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Fertilizer Regulation

fertilizer sprayer

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

Company License Renewal

Online license payment is for existing licenses only. New licenses will need to submit the application form and payment by mail.

Renew Company license(s)

Eligible for the following licenses
expiring 11/30/2021:

  • Commercial Fertilizer (starting Oct 4)

Recertification

Status Search

*Please note that it may take up to 2 weeks after the class for those credit hours to appear in search results.


Exams


Registered Specialty Fertilizer Products


National Weather Service

The National Weather Service (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

The 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 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.


Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper

The 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,

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.
  • The Ag Fertilizer certificate application can be found on the Forms page.

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

Agricultural Fertilizers

Fertilizers are any substance containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium or any recognized plant nutrient element or compound that is used for its plant nutrient content or for compounding mixed fertilizers. These 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.

Fertilizers designed, labeled, and distributed for the production of commercial crops are considered to be Commercial Fertilizers. Fertilizers that are not for commercial crop production are considered Specialty Fertilizers.


Commercial Fertilizers

A license to manufacture or distribute commercial fertilizer is required for:

  • Each fixed location at which commercial fertilizer is manufactured in Ohio;
  • Each mobile unit used to manufacture commercial fertilizer in Ohio;
  • Each location in Ohio from which commercial fertilizer is distributed in Ohio; and
  • Each location outside Ohio from which commercial fertilizer is distributed into Ohio.

Individual commercial fertilizer products are not registered by the Department, and product labels do not need to be submitted.

Applications for Commercial Fertilizer Licenses are available here. These licenses expire each year on November 30 and can be renewed for a $5 fee. A $10 late fee penalty will be applied if renewed after November 30. The name and address shown on the license shall be shown on all labels, pertinent invoices, and bulk storage for fertilizers distributed by the licensee in Ohio.

Products and Label Information

Although Commercial Fertilizer products are not registered, packaged fertilizers must be labeled with at least the following information:

  • Brand and product name;
  • Name and address of the manufacturer or distributor that appears on the license or registration;
  • Net weight of the contents;
  • Grade expressed in whole numbers for all mixed fertilizers; and
  • Guaranteed analysis.

For nonpackaged (bulk) fertilizers, the purchaser must be supplied, upon delivery, with a shipping invoice/delivery ticket containing the following information:

  • Name and address of the licensee, or registrant;
  • Name and address of the purchaser, and county of destination;
  • Date of sale;
  • Product name;
  • Net weight; and
  • Grade expressed in whole numbers for all mixed fertilizers, and other claims, if any. The weight and grade of each material in the mixture and the total weight of the mixture may be stated in lieu of a statement of the grade of the mixture.

Bulk storage locations must be labeled with: 

  • Name and address of the licensee, or registrant;
  • Product name; and
  • Grade expressed in whole numbers for all mixed fertilizers, and other claims, if any. The weight and grade of each material in the mixture and the total weight of the mixture may be stated in lieu of a statement of the grade of the mixture.

Tonnage Reports and Inspection Fees

Annual tonnage reports are due for sales between the period of November 1 - October 31, to be filed before November 30. An inspection fee of $0.25 per ton is due with the report, however, this fee does not apply to packaged fertilizers that are in containers of ten pounds or less. There is a late fee of $50 or 10% of the amount due, whichever is greater. For tonnage reports found to be incorrect, a penalty of 15% of the amount due will be assessed.

Specialty Fertilizers

Fertilizers are any substance containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium or any recognized plant nutrient element or compound that is used for its plant nutrient content or for compounding mixed fertilizers. These 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.

Fertilizers designed, labeled, and distributed for uses other than for the production of commercial crops are considered to be Specialty Fertilizers. Fertilizers that are intended for commercial crop production are considered Commercial Fertilizers.


Specialty Fertilizers

Each brand and product name of each grade of specialty fertilizer distributed in Ohio is required to be registered annually. These product registrations are valid through November 30, and can be renewed annually for a $50 fee per product.

Search currently registered products

New Product Registration Checklist

  • Ohio Application for Registration of Specialty Fertilizers, including:
    • The name and mailing address of the registrant and the name and address of the company whose name will appear on the label, if other than the registrant's name;
    • The contact information of the authorized representative or agent;
    • The brand and product name of each grade; and
    • The guaranteed analysis.
  • $50 application fee per product (payable by check, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa. American Express not accepted.)
  • A PDF copy of the current marketplace label, submitted through email.
  • Agent letter of authorization, if applicable.

Label Information

Each packaged specialty fertilizer container must be labeled with at least the following information:

  • Brand and product name;
  • Name and address of the manufacturer or distributor that appears on the registration;
  • Net weight of the contents;
  • Grade; and
  • Guaranteed analysis.

For nonpackaged (bulk) fertilizers, the purchaser must be supplied, upon delivery, with a shipping invoice/delivery ticket containing the following information:

  • Name and address of the licensee, or registrant;
  • Name and address of the purchaser, and county of destination;
  • Date of sale;
  • Product name;
  • Net weight; and
  • Grade expressed in whole numbers for all mixed fertilizers, and other claims, if any. The weight and grade of each material in the mixture and the total weight of the mixture may be stated in lieu of a statement of the grade of the mixture.

Change of Information

A new registration will not be required if:

  • Minor changes in the marketplace label will not require a new product registration or fee, but the revised label must be submitted to ODA before it is distributed in the state. A new certificate of registration will not be issued for minor label changes, and the existing certificate end date will not be affected.
  • If a registrant/manufacturer name or address changes, a new registration is not required. A change of information form should be submitted, as well as the updated marketplace label. An updated certificate of registration may be issued in this case if needed, but the original registration end date will not be affected.

A new registration will be required if:

  • A change in both the company name and address;
  • A change in product brand/trade name; or
  • A change in the guaranteed analysis.

Registration Renewal

The certificate of registration expires on November 30 each year. In October of each year, ODA mails each registrant an Application to Renew Registration of Specialty Fertilizers with a list of their currently registered products. The signed renewal form and fee(s) should be returned as soon as possible; registrations will not lapse if the renewal application is postmarked before December 1.

Discontinue or Cancel

The annual renewal application contains a space to indicate if a registered product should be placed in a one-year state of discontinuance after which it will be unregistered, or canceled effective immediately. Please contact our office if you wish to do this prior to the annual registration renewal.

Tonnage Reports and Inspection Fees

Annual tonnage reports are due for sales between the period of November 1 - October 31, to be filed before November 30. An inspection fee of $0.25 per ton is due with the report, however, this fee does not apply to packaged fertilizers that are in containers of ten pounds or less. There is a late fee of $50 or 10% of the amount due, whichever is greater. For tonnage reports found to be incorrect, a penalty of 15% of the amount due will be assessed.

Non-Ag Custom Mixed Fertilizers

Fertilizers that are not premixed, but that are blended specifically to meet the nutrient needs of one specific customer are considered to be Custom Mixed Fertilizers. A person who applies or blends a custom mixed fertilizer must maintain an original or a copy of an invoice or document of sale for all fertilizer the person applies or distributes for one year following the date of the application or distribution.

If a business blends a custom mixed fertilizer for use on lawns, golf courses, recreation areas, or other property not used for agricultural production, it must either:

  • register the blend as a Specialty Fertilizer, or
  • obtain a Nonagricultural Production Custom Mixed Fertilizer Blender license.

Nonagricultural Production Custom Mixed Fertilizer Blender License

These licenses expire annually on November 30, and can be renewed for a $100 fee. A $10 late fee will be applied if renewed after November 30.

Tonnage Reports and Inspection Fees

License holders must file annual tonnage reports for sales between the period of November 1 - October 31, to be filed before November 30. An inspection fee of $0.25 per ton is due with the report, however, this fee does not apply to packaged fertilizers that are in containers of ten pounds or less. There is a late fee of $50 or 10% of the amount due, whichever is greater. For tonnage reports found to be incorrect, a penalty of 15% of the amount due will be assessed.

Agricultural Additives

Agricultural additive products must be registered before they can be sold or distributed in Ohio. These additives are non-fertilizer substances or mixtures that are intended:

  • to improve the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of soil or other growth medium for agricultural production purposes, or
  • to otherwise improve crop production, plant growth, product quality, or yield prior to harvest.

Examples include soil adjuvants, wetting agents, and non-rhizobium bacterial and fungal cultures. The following products are not considered ag additives:

  • any product not intended for agricultural use;
  • fertilizers, pesticides, and fertilizer pesticide mixtures;
  • agricultural liming materials and gypsum;
  • mulches, peat, peat moss, and pine bark;
  • perlite and sand;
  • unmanipulated animal or vegetable manures; or
  • rhizobial inoculants.

Please note: pure or mixed cultures of rhizobium bacteria capable of inoculating legume plants are considered to be Legume Inoculants, not Agricultural Additives. Legume inoculants must be registered with the Grain, Feed, and Seed Section.

New Product Registration Checklist

  • Ohio Application for Registration of Agricultural Additives, including:
    • The name and mailing address of the registrant and the name and address of the company whose name will appear on the label, if other than the registrant's name;
    • The contact information of the authorized representative or agent;
    • The product brand name;
    • The purpose or proposed use of the additive;
    • Directions for the additive's use;
    • The results or effects that can be expected when the additive is used as directed;
    • The guaranteed analysis.
  • $50 application fee per product (payable by check, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa. American Express not accepted.)
  • A PDF copy of the current marketplace label, submitted through email.
  • Agent letter of authorization, if applicable.

A product may not be registered if it will not or is not likely to produce the results or effects claimed when used as directed, or if the additive is not useful for agricultural production in Ohio. A Certificate of Registration will be issued once the product has been approved and payment processed.

Label Information

Each agricultural additive container must be labeled with at least the following information:

  • The name and address of the manufacturer or distributor that appears on the registration;
  • The additive's brand name;
  • The net weight of the contents of the container;
  • Its purpose or proposed use;
  • Directions for the additive's use;
  • The results or effects that can be expected when the additive is used as directed; and
  • A guaranteed analysis of:
    • If a chemical product, the name and percentage of each active and inert ingredient;
    • If a microbiological product, the number and kind of viable microorganisms per milliliter or, if the product is other than a liquid, per gram.

Change of Information

A new registration will not be required if:

  • Minor changes in the marketplace label will not require a new product registration or fee, but the revised label must be submitted to ODA before it is distributed in the state. A new certificate of registration will not be issued for minor label changes, and the existing certificate end date will not be affected.
  • If a registrant/manufacturer name or address changes, a new registration is not required. A change of information form should be submitted, as well as the updated marketplace label. An updated certificate of registration may be issued in this case if needed, but the original registration end date will not be affected.

A new registration will be required if:

  • A change in both the company name and address;
  • A change in the product brand/trade name;
  • A change in the guaranteed analysis;
  • A significant change in the purpose or proposed use of the additive;
  • A significant change in the directions for the additive's use;
  • A significant change in the stated results or effects that can be expected when the additive is used as directed.

Registration Renewal

The certificate of registration expires on December 31 each year. In November of each year, ODA mails each registrant an Application to Renew Registration of Agricultural Additives with a list of their currently registered products. The signed renewal form and fee(s) should be returned as soon as possible; the registration will not lapse if postmarked before January 1.

Discontinue or Cancel

The annual renewal application contains a space to indicate if a registered product should be placed in a one-year state of discontinuance after which it will be unregistered, or canceled effective immediately. Please contact our office if you wish to do this prior to the annual registration renewal.

Liming Materials

Liming material refers to any material for which the calcium and magnesium content is used to neutralize soil acidity. These materials include:

  • Limestone;
  • Hydrated lime;
  • Burnt lime;
  • Industrial by-product; and
  • Marl and shell.

A Lime License is required for anyone to manufacture, sell, or distribute liming material in Ohio. An important exemption to note is that there is no requirement to obtain a license to sell or distribute liming material if the manufacturer of the liming material to be distributed or sold is licensed (ORC 905.53).

New License Checklist

  • Application for License to Manufacture, Sell, or Distribute Liming Material, including:
    • The name and address of the applicant; and
    • The name and address of each bulk distribution point from which the applicant's liming material will be distributed in Ohio.
  • A $50 fee for each location at which liming material is manufactured in Ohio.
  • A $50 fee for each location out of the state from which liming material is distributed or sold in Ohio to non-licensees.

Licenses expire annually on December 31 and can be renewed for a $50 fee.

Label Information

If liming material is sold or distributed in packages, each container must be labeled with the following information:

  • Net weight of contents in pounds as determined by a sealed weighing device;
  • Product name and type of liming material, which includes the grade, for all except the oxide and hydrate forms;
  • Name and address of manufacturer, seller, or distributor as shown on the license; and
  • Guaranteed analysis in whole numbers which includes:
    • The minimum percentages of weight of elemental calcium and magnesium;
    • The total neutralizing power expressed as weight percent of calcium carbonate;
    • The minimum percentages of weight passing through numbers 8, 20, 60, 100 U.S. standard sieves;
    • The effective neutralizing power expressed on the basis of pounds per ton as a percentage of the fineness index, multiplied by the total neutralizing power and percentage of dry matter.

For nonpackaged (bulk) liming material, the purchaser must be supplied, upon delivery, with a shipping invoice/delivery ticket containing the following information:

  • The name and address of the purchaser;
  • The date of sale;
  • Net weight of contents in pounds as determined by a sealed weighing device;
  • Product name and type of liming material, which includes the grade, for all except the oxide and hydrate forms;
  • Name and address of manufacturer, seller, or distributor as shown on the license; and
  • Guaranteed analysis in whole numbers which includes:
    • The minimum percentages of weight of elemental calcium and magnesium;
    • The total neutralizing power expressed as weight percent of calcium carbonate;
    • The minimum percentages of weight passing through numbers 8, 20, 60, 100 U.S. standard sieves;
    • The effective neutralizing power expressed on the basis of pounds per ton as a percentage of the fineness index, multiplied by the total neutralizing power and percentage of dry matter.

Tonnage Reports and Inspection Fees

Annual tonnage reports are due for sales between the period of January 1 - December 31, to be filed before February 9. These reports should state the net tons of liming material sold or distributed to a non-licensee in this state, by county, by oxide and hydrate forms, and by grade. If more than 2,500 tons of agricultural liming material is sold or distributed in this state, an inspection fee will be applied. This fee is one-fourth of one cent ($0.0025) for each ton over 2,500 tons, up to a maximum fee of $300. There is a late fee of $10 or 10% of the amount due, whichever is greater. For tonnage reports found to be incorrect, a penalty of 10% of the amount due will be assessed.

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)

Storage Containment

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 and horizontal movement of fertilizer at a rate not to exceed 1 x 10-5 centimeters per second (0.35 inches 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.