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Agronomic Crops Network

Ohio State University Extension


Who and How of Agriculture Fertilizer Applicator Certification in Ohio?

Ohio State University Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources is hosting multiple meetings for those who need to meet state requirements for the Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification program through the Ohio Department of Agriculture. A current listing of all educational programs offered by Ohio State University Extension can be found at

The certification process is a three step process that requires 1) attendance at an educational program sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, 2) completion of the certification application to ODA at the end of the educational meeting then 3) payment of a fee to ODA.

  • For those who have a Pesticide Applicator License through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, there is no additional cost to obtain a fertilizer certification.  The expiration date for those holding both a Pesticide License and Fertilizer Applicator Certification will be the same year regardless of when the original fertilizer training is taken.  Re-certification for both will be based on the pesticide license cycle.
  • Those without a current Pesticide Applicators License must attend a minimum 3 hour education program.  Once ODA receives verification of training ODA will send an invoice that needs to be completed and returned with a $30.00 fee.  Once ODA has payment, your certification card will be sent to you and is valid for three years.

The Certification is required for those who apply fertilizer on more than 50 acres of agricultural production grown primarily for sale. Fertilizer is defined as any substance containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, or other plant nutrient in a dry or liquid formulation. All application types (broadcast, side dress, sub-surface, knifing, etc.) are included in the certification requirement. The only application placement exempted is start-up fertilizers that are applied through a planter. Certification is also required for any persons using manure from a permitted Confined Animal Feeding facility anywhere in Ohio. 

Anyone who has taken the training, applied to ODA and received their yellow “Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification” card from ODA do not need any additional training until recertification is required. There are no “Agricultural Fertilizer Applicators Certifications” that expire before March 31, 2018. For recertification, 2 hours of training is required in the second or third year of the fertilizer certification cycle prior to the expiration date.

Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification has record keeping requirements.  Fertilizer application records need to be documented within 24 hours of the application and kept for three years by the certified applicator. There is no standard recordkeeping format, but Ohio agricultural fertilizer records need to contain the following items:

  • Name of the responsible agricultural fertilizer certificate holder (and name of applicator if different)
  • Date of application (month, day, and year)
  • Location or field identification number of fertilizer application area
  • Rate of application (e.g., pounds of fertilizer per acre)
  • Analysis of fertilizer applied (e.g., 11-52-0)
  • Application method (soil injected, incorporated, surface-applied, etc.)
  • Soil conditions at the time of application
  • Temperature, precipitation, and other weather conditions at the time of application
  • For surface applications only: was the ground frozen or snow-covered (yes/no)?
  • Weather forecast for the day following the application

Applicators that are a current Certified Crop Adviser through the American Society of Agronomy or are Certified Livestock Managers through the Ohio Department of Agriculture are exempt from training and can apply directly to ODA for their Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification. Contact ODA’s Pesticide and Fertilizer Section at (614) 728-6987 or Tollfree: 800-282-1955.

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.