Fertilizer certificate deadline September

Hello Trumbull County. For those of you that apply fertilizer to 50 acres or more, we are quickly coming up on the Sept. 30 deadline to obtain your Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training.

For those of you who don’t know, or don’t remember, in June 2014, Gov. John Kasich signed the Ohio Agriculture Nutrients bill into law in an effort to reduce the level of nutrients entering Ohio’s waterways. Requirements of this law state that if you apply fertilizer (not manure) to a crop primarily for sale of 50 acres or more you must attend a two-hour training session if you have a current Ohio pesticide applicators license, or a three-hour session if you do not have a pesticide license, by Sept. 30.

If you are confused about whether you need to be certified, you’re not alone. It’s a confusing law, especially for those of you that farm just below 50 acres, but I will try to clear up some of that confusion here. If you apply fertilizer (broadcast, inject, sidedress, etc.) to a crop (hay, grain, silage), and your combined application is over 50 acres, you must be certified. Applying fertilizer through the planter is exempt, but if you come back and sidedress your corn then you have be certified. Essentially, any application of fertilizer to a field, or fields, of 50 acres or more that does not come out of the planter requires the applicator to be certified.

Farmers that apply fertilizer to crops, and then feed that crop back to animals on their farm, are also exempt. If a dairy farmer is growing 100 acres of corn for silage, and applies fertilizer to that corn, and then feeds all of that crop back through their dairy cows, that farmer does not need to be certified. If that same farmer has a good crop of hay from 50 acres that had fertilizer applied, and they want to sell that hay, they would now need to be certified because the crop is grown primarily for sale.

For farmers that hire a custom applicator through a co-op or independent ag dealer, the applicator of the fertilizer must be certified, not the land owner. The applicator must provide the landowner with the details of the application afterward, and the applicator is responsible for maintaining the records.

So what exactly is required to become certified? You simply have to attend a free three-hour class before Sept. 30, and fill out a paper at the end of the class that will be sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). If you have a current pesticide license, that’s it and you are certified for a three-year period. If you do not have a pesticide license, the ODA will send you a bill for $30, and once you send them a check you are then certified. We are not positive yet what will happen after the deadline, but it is likely that there will be a test that is required for certification similar to the pesticide license. OSU Extension will let you know as soon as we know.

After you obtain your certification, you then must keep records of your fertilizer applications that details what you applied, where it was applied, the weather forecast for 12 hours after the application is to be made and who did the application. Your certification is valid for three years, and will most likely need one or two hours of continuing education to recertify within that period. That rule still has not been finalized, but we will keep you updated. If you have a pesticide license your recertification cycles will be synchronized so you only have to remember one date. OSU Extension will be offering recertification classes starting in 2018, so there will be plenty of local options to maintain your certification.

This is confusing, and I am always willing to help work through your farming situation by phone or in person. It is my suggestion that if you farm close to 50 acres you should attend the certification session. The class is useful to all farmers especially if you struggle with soil testing and interpreting the results. We try to make it fun. The next FACT session will be on August 17 at the Trumbull County Ag Center, 520 West Main St., Cortland. The class is free, at the end you will be certified, and there are no tests! To register call 440-834-4656, or visit https://nutrienteducation.osu.edu for more information.

For information call the OSU Trumbull County Extension Office at 330-638-6783 or visit trumbull.osu.edu. Don’t forget to check out and “Like” OSU Extension Trumbull County’s Facebook page for current programs and up to date information.

Beers can be reached at beers.66@osu.edu or 330-638-6738.