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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

Senate Passes Fertilizer Bill after Adopting PLNA-Supported Amendments

Monday, April 2, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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SpreaderHARRISBURG – On March 20, the Pennsylvania Senate passed SB 792, a bill to regulate the application of lawn fertilizer, after inserting PLNA-backed amendments to make the legislation less burdensome on the lawncare industry. After the Senate action, PLNA dropped its opposition to the legislation.

The bill now goes to the House, where it was referred to the House Agriculture and Rural affairs Committee.

“PLNA has worked long and hard over the past eight years to get this legislation into a form that would not overly burden the lawncare industry in Pennsylvania,” said Andy Ernst, PLNA board chair and Vice President of Ernst Conservation Seeds. “The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has been open to addressing our concerns and worked closely with us in drafting the amendments that the Senate included in the bill. The fertilizer certification requirements now closely parallel the current pesticide certification program and will minimize the financial costs to the industry.”

The amended bill contains the following provisions:

·   Fertilizer Application Business - Requires that each company location applying fertilizer for hire register with PDA and pay a $100 annual fee. The company must also keep detailed records of employees applying fertilizers and of all fertilizer applications. Each company must have at least one certified fertilizer applicator in its employ.

·   Registration Number - Requires that a fertilizer application business display a fertilizer registration number on each vehicle involved in fertilizer application at least 3” high on each side of the vehicle. PDA has committed to allow businesses with an existing BU number to use that number as their fertilizer registration number.

·   Certification Exam - Requires that commercial fertilizer applicators pass a certification exam and maintain their certification by acquiring four CEU’s over three years. A commercial fertilizer applicator must be employed by a registered fertilizer application business.

·   Grandfathered - The bill allows those with existing pesticide certifications in certain categories to be grandfathered into the fertilizer program until their core pesticide license must be renewed. At that point, grandfathered fertilizer applicators must show evidence they have met the fertilizer recertification requirements for continuing education.

·   Fertilizer technicians may be trained by certified commercial fertilizer applicators within companies. Once trained, fertilizer technicians may apply fertilizer without direct supervision. Employees not trained as fertilizer technicians may apply fertilizer, but only under the direct onsite supervision of a certified applicator.

·   Application Rates – The bill set limits on the rates at which fertilizer may be applied to turf grass to 0.9 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in a single application. No phosphorous may be applied unless the purpose is to establish a new lawn. PDA has the authority to modify these application rates by regulation if research shows that such modification is warranted.

·   Site-Specific Plan – The application limits in the bill may be modified if necessary according to a site-specific plan that is based on soil tests conducted every three years.

·   Local Preemption – The bill contains language that prohibits local governments from developing fertilizer ordinances that conflict with the bill and prohibits local governments from levying penalties for which the state has levied a penalty.

This is just a summary of bill’s provisions. if your company applies fertilizer to turf grass, please download a copy of the bill by clicking here and review the details. Call or email Gregg Robertson at 717.238.2033 if you have any questions or comments. We need your input quickly as the bill moves through the legislative process.

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