In June, 2014, Governor Kasich signed the agricultural fertilizer applicator certification law (Senate Bill 150), requiring farmers who fertilize 50 acres or more to become certified by September 30, 2017. Under the certification law, fertilizer is considered to be any substance containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, or other plant nutrient in a dry or liquid formulation. Lime and limestone are not considered fertilizers.
All application types (broadcast, side dress, sub-surface, knifing, etc.) are included in the certification requirement. The only application exempted is start-up fertilizers applied through a planter. All certifications will be valid for three years. After the deadline, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) will conduct random record audits.
Algae, especially hazardous algae blooms, across the state was the main reason for this law to be enacted. Aquatic habitat health, recreational value and drinking water are inhibited by high nutrient amounts in our waters. This is a problem that affects everyone within the watershed where these issues occur.
Nutrient problems are not just related to agriculture, we affect water quality at the household also. Anything we apply to the landscape can be washed into our streams when not done properly. Nutrients from landscaping activities, failing septic systems, and erosion all can contribute to water quality degradation and lead to algae blooms in our water bodies. Remember, things that enter a stream are natural only if we don’t put them there (leaves for example). Below is a list of a few things that can be done to improve our water nutrient problems.