New Indiana Fertilizer Regulations Take Effect

The Office of Indiana State Chemist is continuing its yearlong effort to help farmers comply with new rules regulating how manure and other fertilizers can be staged on farms and applied to fields. The rules took effect February 16.

“We are getting the message to farmers and producers since they are the ones who have to come up with the plan to protect water,” said Matthew Pearson, administrator of the OISC’s fertilizer section.

The office will use discretion in enforcing the rules as farmers, fertilizer distributors and applicators continue to familiarize themselves with the regulations and comply. The rules provide for civil penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 per day or incident.

The rules apply to anyone who uses or distributes commercial fertilizer or manure in producing an agricultural crop, except for those who apply less than 10 cubic yards or 4,000 gallons in a year.

The Purdue-based OISC wrote the rules as required by the state Legislature in 2011. Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels approved them in February 2012. The rules complement Indiana Department of Environmental Management regulations and align with strategies to reduce the flow of farm nutrients in waterways, Pearson said.

In the past year, Pearson has given presentations at about 50 meetings, including those under the Private Applicator Recertification Program. In addition, there have been a couple of hundred other workshops across Indiana’s 92 counties.

Last month the OISC mailed details of the new rules, including a question-and-answer format highlighting major points, to all farmers, fertilizer dealers, applicators and pesticide dealers on record in Indiana.

The most common question the office receives from farmers and applicators is whether they need special licensing or certification. In most cases, they do not. But those applying manure from confined feeding operations or those using it for hire need separate certification, and Category 14-licensed applicators are required to keep appropriate records.

Some other most frequently asked questions:

  • Where can I get a template for creating a fertilizer application plan? Pearson noted there is no such form because situations on each farm are different. Local Purdue Extension offices can assist farmers in creating a plan, which needs to include all nutrient inputs and crop needs.
  • Are there restrictions for applying manure to frozen or snow-covered ground? Yes, surface applications require additional setbacks from surface water. There also are requirements involving the rate of manure that can be replied.
  • What are record-keeping requirements for Category 14-certified applicators? They must keep for two years a record of the location, certified applicator’s name and license or certification number, fertilizer, nutrient value, rate per acre and the method of application. There is no specific form for this.

More frequently asked questions and other information is available on the OISC’s website here.

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