Chris Parker, Morgan County Extension ag educator, twice last week explained to two different groups new rules that now govern manure and fertilizer.
Both groups were captive audiences, there to get credit for their private pesticide applicator's license renewal. The license is needed to purchase restricted-use pesticides. You can keep your license current by attending three meetings in five years approved for that purpose, but no more than two in one year.
One fertilizer rule went into effect over a year ago. The second took effect Feb. 15 of this year.
"Category 14 that went into effect last year requires anyone handling commercial fertilizer for hire or hauling manure or applying manure from a confined animal feeding unit to have a license," Parker explains. "It comes from the Office of the Indiana State Chemist, and appears similar to a private pesticide applicator's license."
Much of the impetus for both rules came to clear up problems with people brining in manure from out of state, particularly Ohio, and stockpiling it on their own land or the land of other farmers who wanted the manure. Sometimes it would not be spread for months.
Under the law, you don't need a license, Parker says. But it applies to almost anyone with any kind of farming operation. If you farm over a hundred acres or raise even a few beef cows, you likely fall under the laws.
Instead of a license, you're expected to have a written plan for how you apply fertilizer and manure. The plan can be as simple as recommendations based on soil tests, and a record of what you applied where and when.
"You're going to need this when a complaint is filed" he says. "We get lots of calls from the public in our offices wondering if what farmers are doing is legal. If we can't explain it or answer their questions, we are required to send them to the Office of the Indiana State Chemist. They are required by law to investigate complaints. That's when you are really going to need the plan to be able to justify what you have done in the past."