A strong coalition consisting of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio State University, and several state agricultural organizations are encouraging farmers to attend training courses for the Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification Program.
Signed into law by Governor John Kasich in May 2014, Ohio Senate Bill 150 created a first of its kind certification program for applying commercial fertilizer in Ohio. Focusing on science-based practices, the bill requires farmers applying commercial fertilizer to more than 50 acres to attend a course on fertilizer application. Applicators must be certified no later than Sept. 30.
“As farmers look for training opportunities we would encourage them to become certified through our program as soon as possible,” said ODA Director David T. Daniels. “While they can’t plant in the winter, they can learn about the numerous practices that will save them money while improving water quality. Nearly every farmer who takes the training says they learned something, so I ask producers, what are they waiting for?”
OSU Extension will hold numerous training sessions across all regions of the state this winter. The training sessions focus on best management practices and the latest research to keep nutrients in the field and available to crops while reducing nutrients leaving the field. To date, nearly 12,000 farmers have become certified through the program.
“We are looking forward to seeing Ohio farmers at our nutrient application trainings this year,” said Roger Rennekamp, director of Ohio State University Extension. “There are hundreds of workshops scheduled, and we’ll be sharing the latest research-based information on how to get the most out of fertilizer applications. Farmers want to prevent nutrient run-off as much as anyone, for economic and environmental reasons.”
While applicators have until Sept. 30 to become certified, the majority of training sessions for certification will occur in the winter. ODA will strive to gain voluntary compliance but applying commercial fertilizer after Sept. 30 without a certification could result in fines and/or being charged with a misdemeanor offense.
“Between the law and voluntary efforts, farmers have proven they’re willing to help address Ohio’s water quality challenges,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “Becoming certified by the deadline is a crucial part of meeting our responsibilities.
For more information on certification training, farmers can visit www.nutrienteducation.osu.edu. Once there, farmers can learn more about the training and even sign up for classes in their area.