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Fertilizer training likely for farmers

Tom Jackson • Apr 30, 2014 at 8:47 AM

A bill that seeks to combat harmful algal blooms by requiring farmers to obtain training in applying fertilizer properly seems likely to become law soon, the measure’s sponsor says.

State Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, said this week now that both the House and Senate have passed his Senate Bill 150, final passage should occur soon after lawmakers return to work after the May 6 primary.

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He said he expects the Senate to accept House amendments to the bill that amount to cleanup language, sending the bill to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.

SB 150 essentially would require at least one person from each state farm operation to become certified by the state in applying fertilizer.

It requires persons who want to apply fertilizer on an Ohio farm to attend a certification program set up by Ohio’s director of agriculture.    The measure would not go into effect immediately but would take effect on Sept. 30, three years after the measure becomes law.

The bill is modeled after an existing certification program for applying pesticide on state farms, Hite said.

The measure, drawn up with the support of the Kasich administration, is one of the steps that’s being taken to reduce the amount of phosphorus and other nutrients that are getting into Lake Erie and feeding harmful algal blooms. While some phosphorus comes from industrial operations and government sewers, experts believe runoff from farm fields is an element of the problem.

He said it’s essentially an education measure. It will ensure farmers who apply fertilizer follow good practices to avoid having nutrients run off from farm fields.

Hite said he attends many agriculture events.

He knows having another meeting to attend is not fun, but the fertilizer application class has the potential to save farmers money because they’ll learn how to avoid wasting fertilizer.

Kristy Meyer, managing director of Agricultural, Health and Clean Water Programs for the Ohio Environmental Council, said her organization supports SB 150 as a useful step forward.

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