Agricultural fertilizer certification training offered before Sept. 30 deadline

Ohio farmers who still need to get fertilizer certification before the Sept. 30 deadline will have more than 20 opportunities to attend training sessions offered by experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

The training, provided by Ohio State University Extension, fulfills the educational requirements of Ohio’s 2014 agricultural nutrients legislation which requires individuals who apply fertilizer on more than 50 acres to become certified by Sept. 30, 2017.

Already, more than 17,000 Ohio farmers have gone through Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training, or FACT, which offers information on best management practices to apply fertilizer for optimum crop yields, reduce the risk of nutrient runoff and improve water quality throughout the state, said Mary Ann Rose, program director for OSU Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program.

FACT was developed by CFAES field specialists and is offered in partnership with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The training provides research-based tactics to keep nutrients in the field and available to crops while increasing stewardship of nearby and downstream water resources.

The training sessions will be held across the state into mid-September. The three-hour programs are all free. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.

“The certification training will help farmers learn better practices to use fertilizer efficiently, improve yields and prevent the loss of nutrients,” Rose said. “There has been a lot of environmental concerns with fertilizer runoff from fields, with a particular focus on phosphorus.”

The certification requirement is in response to concern that nutrients from farm fields contribute to algal blooms in Lake Erie and other bodies of water. The training focuses on growers applying fertilizer at the correct rate, time and location in the field.

According to the nutrients law, fertilizer is defined as any substance containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium or other plant nutrient in a dry or liquid form. Use of manure, start-up fertilizer applied through planters, and non-crop uses of fertilizer such as for lawn and landscape maintenance are exempt from the fertilizer certification regulations.

In order to gain the Ohio Fertilizer Applicator Certification, farmers need to attend the FACT program in person and complete the necessary Ohio Department of Agriculture forms.

Applicators who are a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) or Ohio Certified Livestock Manager (CLM) are not required to attend training to become certified for fertilizer applications, Rose said. However, those with a CCA or CLM exemption for training must still contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 614-728-6987 to complete the exemption paperwork and pay for the fertilizer certification if the applicator does not already have a pesticide applicator license.

Information on where the trainings are being held can be found at nutrienteducation.osu.edu/trainingopportunities.

The Ohio Pesticide Safety Education Program provides training, education and outreach to pesticide applicators about the safe, effective and legal use of pesticides. The program works with farmers, businesses and public agencies to protect human health and the environment and serves as a critical part of job training and business growth in Ohio.

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