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Applicators of Fertilizer

Are applicators required to have a license to apply fertilizer?

Currently, there is no requirement for applicators of fertilizer to have a license unless you are applying fertilizers that contain pesticides (i.e., weed & feeds or preemergent products). In this case, you must have a pesticide license. To obtain more information on the pesticide licensing requirements, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Pesticide Program website.

What are the fertilizer application restrictions?

No non-aquatic fertilizer may be applied within 15 feet of the top of a bank of a lake, pond, wetland, or flowing body of water, unless the fertilizer is being applied with a targeted application technology for establishing and maintaining a stream buffer zone.

The following restrictions are to be followed when applying fertilizer for turf.

    • Must be applied using a properly calibrated spreader intended for fertilizer.
    • Application may not exceed 0.7 lbs/1000 ft2 of plant available nitrogen.
    • Application may not exceed 0.9 lbs/1000 ft2 of total nitrogen unless it is an enhanced efficiency nitrogen fertilizer.
    • No phosphate may be applied unless you are establishing, reestablishing, or repairing a turf area or using an enhanced efficiency phosphorus fertilizer, natural organic or organic-based fertilizer.
    • Application of enhanced efficiency phosphorus, natural organic fertilizer or organic-based fertilizers may not exceed 0.25 lbs/1000 ftper application (0.9 lbs/1000ft2 annual maximum).
    • Cannot be applied to impervious surfaces. Any material landing on an impervious surface must be swept back onto the turf (unless it's in liquid form).
    • Cannot be applied to frozen or snow-covered ground.
    • Cannot be used to melt ice or snow.
    • Cannot be disposed of or stored in a manner inconsistent with the label, would cause an overapplication, or would result in a discharge to a storm drain or waters of the Commonwealth.

How are the state application rates determined?

Application rates are published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin every two years.

Rates will be based on scientific, peer-reviewed data and as recommended by Penn State University or other Pennsylvania based institute of higher education.

Can a soil test be used to determine nutrient application rates?

Soil tests may be used to determine proper application rates. However, a site-specific plan must be developed that considers such factors as plant needs, climate, topography, and soil and turf conditions.