Comment Period Closed on Fertilizer Certification

New program could launch by end of the year.

Published on: Mar 31, 2010

Concern over how people were applying both commercial fertilizer and manure led the state legislature to instruct the Office of the Indiana State Chemist to develop a certification process for people who apply these products. Matt Pearson, the person in that office responsible for this task, says that hearings have been held, the official comment period is over, and rules are now being promulgated.

That doesn't mean you will see the program next month or even next fall. However, it's possible it will be up and running by the end of the year. The real goal, Pearson says, is to educate people about how to apply and help them understand why it's necessary to not over apply. A big part of the education part of the program, he says, will be geared toward helping farmers and commercial applicators understand how they can protect water quality while still getting their job done.

The system will look like the pesticide certification program that's already in place for anyone who uses restricted-use pesticides, Pearson says. In fact, think of this new program as an endorsement on that license, he adds. It will involve passing a test, then attending training meetings over a period of time to keep your license updated. This time the meetings hat you attend to get credit toward the fertilizer endorsement will deal with subjects such as soil sampling, water quality and correct ways of applying manure.

One key question is whether farmers who operate confined feeding units, known in government jargon as CFO's, will have to become certified to apply their own manure. Basically, the answer is yes, Pearson says. Operators of CAFO units, larger than CFO's will also be required to become certified.

What will likely happen is that one person in a large livestock operation who hauls their own manure may choose to become certified. Then it becomes that person's responsibility to train other people in the operation who might apply manure, Pearson explains.

Those who apply either inorganic commercial fertilizer or organic fertilizer, basically manure, for hire will need certification. Distributors of fertilizer or manure will also need a business license. Lawn care is not included in this program, so commercial applicators of just lawn care products are not affected. Those who apply sludge form waster treatment plants are also not affected. They are regulated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management instead.