We are still getting a lot of questions about Fertilizer Certification from farmers.
As a reminder, your legislators recently passed two laws regarding the application of fertilizer and manure. Remember, our legislators are in place to represent the voting public of the state of Ohio. Ohio State University is not a regulatory agency; our goal is to deliver unbiased, fact-based information. We were invited by the Ohio Department to conduct the training for your fertilizer certification. We have been delivering research-based information on managing nutrients for 100 years.
Before 2014 we had laws in place only for large animal feeding operations to set manure application limits, and for fertilizer we only counted the tons used in the state. Since 2014 we now have a law based on Senate Bill 150 outlining the requirement to be certified to apply fertilizer — fertilizer meaning nutrients with an analysis. In 2015 legislators passed SB 1 (apparently it was their first priority of the year) to limit fertilizer and manure applications in northwest Ohio. This bill also brought state-wide requirements for certification if you apply manure from a concentrated animal feeding operation.
A third change legislators brought in House Bill 64 — the budget bill of 2016-17 — was to move the Soil & Water Conservation Districts to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The former SWCDs are now within ODA as the Division of Soil & Water Conservation. This places an office of the Department of Agriculture in every county in the state.
Senate Bill 150 gives Ohio farmers until September 30, 2017 to become certified to apply fertilizer. We are now in April of 2016, and at the end of the winter meeting season, meaning you have next winter to become certified. This site gives more details on the legal issues: http://aglaw.osu.edu/blog-categories/environmental.
Ohio State University Extension is delivering the educational programs. We have delivered more than 150 programs around the state for over 10,000 attendees so far. From estimates within OSU Extension, we think perhaps about 20,000 may need fertilizer certification. From a conversation with Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Daniels last week, there are probably many more who need the certification.
Record keeping requirements start when you receive your yellow Fertilizer Applicator Certificate. If you are a farmer you maintain the records for three years. If you are a dealer and apply the fertilizer, you maintain the records for three years and supply a copy of the record to the grower who purchased the nutrients.
Within 24 hours of any nutrient application, record:
- Name of fertilizer certificate holder
- Name of applicator working under direct supervision of certificate holder (if any)
- Date of application
- Location (field ID, farm)
- Fertilizer analysis (such as 11-52-0)
- Rate of fertilizer application (in pounds per acre) and total amount applied
- Fertilizer application method (surface-applied, incorporated, etc.)
- Soil conditions
- For surface applications only: is ground frozen or snow covered?
- Temperature and precipitation during application
- Weather forecast for day following application
One very good place to get and print weather records and a forecast is http://weather.gov. I had a call last week from a grower who forgot to record the weather information for his nutrient application in February when we had that dry spell. One site I have found to look at for past weather forecasts is on Weather Underground. Go to www.wunderground.com, click on “More” near the top of the page and then choose “Historical” to see past weather information. But I am not sure this is a “good” record; remember the intention is that you will gather this information before the application.
One other item almost buried in SB 150 was the development of nutrient management plans. To me this may be the best way to manage our nutrient loss concerns — consulting with a nutrient management planner at the Soil & Water office, with a consultant, with Extension, with NRCS or a retailer can find those most likely areas of loss and help to reduce them.