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Fertilizer Regulation
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General Information

The division’s Pesticide and Fertilizer Regulation Program regulates the manufacturing and distribution of fertilizer, lime and agricultural additives. This section approves anhydrous ammonia and bulk storage systems, and serves as the registrar for fertilizer companies. Through routine inspections, staff members enforce the state laws and rules that govern these activities. Staff members continue to integrate state water quality regulations assigned to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, including soil testing, banning manure and fertilizer application on frozen or saturated ground in the Western Lake Erie Basin and setting parameters for cover crop exemptions and manure storage. The department also continues to train farmers through the Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification Program. Since these trainings began, more than 16,000 farmers have been trained.

Online Tools

National Weather Service

The NWS offers detailed 7-day forecasts as well as an Hourly Weather Forecast, provided by one of the five Forecast Offices covering the state of Ohio. The hourly forecasts include precipitation amount (inches) and potential (%), relative humidity, and wind speed. Users can search and find forecasts for areas such as cities, zip codes, and counties.

Fertilizer Application Resource Monitor

FARM is a web-based tool to retrieve both current and historical weather forecasts for Ohio. FARM allows users to define their locations of interest and receive 12- and 24-hour precipitation forecasts to aid in the application of fertilizer, manure, and/or pesticides. FARM also utilizes a database of historical forecasts allowing users to search previous dates. Users can choose to create an account to track multiple fields, explore statewide conditions in quick-view, and sign-up to receive email alerts. The FARM program was developed by OSU and the State Climate Office of Ohio.

Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper

OnMRK is a record-keeping tool to track fertilizer and manure applications on a smartphone or tablet. The program uses the device's GPS to keep records for each field location, and automatically retrieve weather forecasts for the location. Users enter other information about the application (type of fertilizer, rates, etc). The OnMRK app was developed by OSU Extension Knox County, Ohio Farm Bureau, and Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District, and is available for Android and Apple devices,

Ohio Applicator Forecast

The Ohio Applicator Forecast is part of a multi-state project to identify weather conditions that could lead to water runoff and the subsequent movement of applied nutrients. The National Weather Service River Forecast Centers, which provide real-time modeling and forecasting of river flow and stage, use precipitation and temperature forecasts to predict snow-melt, soil temperature, and soil moisture. This information can then be compared with field experiments to determine the weather and soil conditions which result in surface runoff. The runoff forecast is grouped into 3 categories: Low, Medium, and High. These forecasts can be used to identify locations or later days when there is a lower risk of surface runoff.

New Rules

Lake Erie mapIn 2014, Ohio Senate Bill 150 created special restrictions on the application of fertilizer and manure in the Western basin of Lake Erie. These rules do not affect any restrictions currently in place for concentrated animal feeding facilities (CAFFs), or applications in other parts of the state.

Western Lake Erie Basin Nitrogen, Phosphorus, & Manure Application Restrictions
If farm owners/operators or nutrient applicators will inject, incorporate (within 24 hours), or apply nutrients to a growing crop, then no special restrictions apply. Otherwise:

  • No N, P, or manure can be applied when the ground is snow-covered, frozen, or saturated by rainfall in the top 2 inches of soil.
  • No granular N or P can be applied when the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one inch in a twelve-hour period
  • No manure can be applied when the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24 hour period.

Ag Fertilizer Applicators

As of September 2017, certification is required for any individual who applies or supervises the application of a commercial fertilizer to more than 50 acres of agricultural production grown primarily for sale. If you have the co-op or other custom applicator make your ag fertilizer applications, you do not need the certification.

Applicators

The Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator certificate is for:

  • Any individual who applies or supervises the application of a commercial fertilizer to more than 50 acres of agricultural production grown primarily for sale. If you have the co-op or other custom applicator make your fertilizer applications, you do not need the certification.

Under this certification program, commercial fertilizers do NOT include lime, limestone, marl, underground bone, water, residual from farm products, animal or vegetable manures, unless mixed with fertilizer materials or distributed with a guaranteed analysis. 

More information for Ag Fertilizer Applicators

Product Registration

Agricultural Additive Products

Agricultural additives are any products intended to improve soil for ag production, or to otherwise improve crop production, plant growth, product quality, or yield prior to harvest. 

  • These products do NOT include fertilizers, agricultural liming materials, pesticides, fertilizer pesticide mixtures, rhizobial inoculants, peat, gypsum, perlite, sand, manures, and mulches.

Anyone who manufactures, distributes or labels any soil additives is required to register the product annually, and provide a guaranteed analysis of the chemical or microbiological product.

Specialty Fertilizer Products

Specialty fertilizers are any fertilizer products not intended for commercial crop production; for example, lawn fertilizers are specialty fertilizers.

Anyone who manufactures or labels specialty fertilizers in Ohio must register them annually with ODA, and provide a guaranteed analysis of the chemical or microbiological product. 

Tonnage reports of all fertilizer distributed in Ohio must be reported to ODA by November 30 each year. In addition to the tonnage report, an inspection fee of $0.25 per ton is required except for packaged fertilizers of 10 lbs or less.

Anhydrous Ammonia

Anhydrous ammonia is an extremely pure form of ammonia, with less than 1% water in the product. It is typically stored as a liquid under high pressure, is corrosive to certain metals, and while generally not flammable, it is an extreme irritant.

Anyone who stores anhydrous ammonia in Ohio is required to get approval of storage tanks before construction and operation. This approval can be obtained by submitting a drawing of the plot plan along with a completed application. Anhydrous Ammonia systems are subject to periodic inspection by an ODA inspector to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

OAC Chapter 901:5-3 provides full details on the approval of systems, the requirements for new construction and the markings on and location of containers and systems. These rules apply to stationary storage, as well as systems mounted on farm equipment for the delivery and/or application of ammonia.

Stationary System Guidelines

Some of the requirements for anhydrous ammonia systems are:

  • A legible, permanently attached nameplate on the container specifying the date of fabrication, the water capacity of the container, the design pressure, and the wall thickness of the shell and heads; other information is required
  • Support saddles extending 1/3 circumference of shell
  • Have 400 psi gauge
  • Have a liquid level gauge and liquid level does not exceed 85% of capacity
  • Have hydrostatic relief between liquid valves
  • Have excess flow valves
  • Have lockable valves & locked when not attended
  • Valves are protected from physical damage
  • Replace hoses every 5 years after the manufacture date, or when damaged

Nurse Tank Guidelines

Some of the requirements for anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks are:

  • All valves must be protected and within a rollcage
  • At least 5 gallons of water and PPE must be with the nurse tank
  • Have a liquid level gauge and liquid level does not exceed 85% of capacity
  • "1005" placard on each side and each end of the tank
  • The words "ANHYDROUS AMMONIA" at least 2" high on each side and rear end
  • Have a safety relief valve with rain cap
  • Have a 400 psi gauge, if capacity over 250 gallons
  • Replace hoses every 5 years after the manufacture date, or when damaged

Nurse tank guidelines (pdf)

 

Production & Distribution

Commercial Fertilizer License

Anyone who is manufacturing or labeling commercial fertilizer products for agricultural use is required to obtain a commercial fertilizer license annually, for each fixed location and mobile unit at which fertilizer is manufactured or distributed in Ohio, and for each location out of the state from which fertilizer is distributed into Ohio.

A commercial fertilizer is any product containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium or plant nutrient.

  • These products do NOT include lime, limestone, marl, unground bone, water, residual farm products, and animal and vegetable manures unless mixed with fertilizer materials or distributed with a guaranteed analysis.

Tonnage reports of all fertilizer distributed in Ohio must be reported to ODA by November 30 each year. In addition to the tonnage report, an inspection fee of $0.25 per ton is required except for packaged fertilizers of 10 lbs or less.

Non-Agricultural Production Custom Mixed Fertilizer Blender License

Anyone who blends a custom mixed fertilizer for use on lawns, golf courses, recreation areas, or any other non-agricultural production needs to have an annual non-agricultural production custom mixed fertilizer blender license. Since these products are custom mixed, the products themselves do not need to be registered, however the blender needs to be licensed.

Tonnage reports of all fertilizer distributed in Ohio must be reported to ODA by November 30 each year. In addition to the tonnage report, an inspection fee of $0.25 per ton is required except for packaged fertilizers of 10 lbs or less.

Lime

An annual Liming Material License is required for anyone intending to manufacture, sell, or distribute liming material in Ohio. These are any materials used to neutralize soil acidity, and includes:
  • Limestone
  • Hydrated lime
  • Burnt lime
  • Industrial by-product
  • Marl and shell

In addition to the licensing requirements, licensees must submit an annual tonnage report to ODA by February 15 each year. These reports include the number of net tons of liming material sold or distributed to non-licensees in Ohio, reported by county, by oxide and hydrate forms, and by grade, for the period of January 1 thru December 31. There is also an inspection fee due with the report, if more than 2,500 tons of liming material was sold in Ohio. The fee is $0.0025 per ton in excess of 2,500 tons. The maximum fee is $300.

Sampling and analysis

The Department may inspect, sample, and analyze any liming material used in Ohio to determine whether the liming material is in compliance and true to the product label.

Current Lime Sampling Analysis Report

Storage

Secondary Containment Construction

Anyone who stores over 5,000 gallons of liquid fertilizer in Ohio for more than 30 days is required to have an approved secondary containment system in place. This approval can be obtained by submitting a drawing of the proposed dike area along with the completed application. Plans for secondary containment must meet all applicable zoning regulations, building standards, and fire codes, and be approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Containment Guidelines

The storage tanks must comply with the following requirements:
  • the tanks must be equipped with a lockable liquid level gauging device
  • the tanks must be secured to prevent flotation
  • each tank must have its designed capacity and the identity of its contents stenciled on a visible side of the tank
  • each tank must have a lockable shutoff valve
Appurtenances (plumbing, pumps, valves, gauges, fittings, etc):
  • must be inside the diked area or have a separate means of containment
  • all hoses for loading and unloading must have a shut-off valve
  • must be supported to prevent sagging & protected to prevent damage
All secondary containment shall:
  • have 10% more volumetric capacity than the largest storage tank located within the containment area
  • not have a tank over 15 feet tall less than four feet from the base of the containment
  • be constructed of materials to prevent vertical movement of fertilizer at a rate not to exceed thirty five hundredths of an inch per day (
Checks and/or inspections are needed:
  • weekly for equipment
  • monthly for a visual inspection of the exterior surfaces
  • monthly for all spill equipment
  • yearly using an API 653 checklist for the exterior of the tanks
  • once every five years using an API 653 checklist for the interior of the tanks
Records are required:
  • weekly for recording the liquid level of each tank with fertilizer in it
  • whenever there is a discharge of fertilizer outside the containment area
  • for all repairs and maintenance work performed on each tank

Enforcement & Complaints

  • Contact our office with questions about the Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator certificate program or about fertilizer applications in the Western Lake Erie Basin.