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I’m a lawn care professional interested in applying fertilizers in Pennsylvania. What licenses or certifications do I need?
As a lawn care provider, you are not required to have a license or registration to use fertilizer in Pennsylvania. However, you are required to apply the fertilizer in accordance with the product label and follow all nutrient application rate and site restrictions.
If, however, you are applying fertilizers that contain pesticides (i.e., weed & feeds or preemergent products), you must have a pesticide license. To obtain more information on the pesticide licensing requirements, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Pesticide Program website.
I am a fertilizer manufacturer interested in distributing fertilizer in Pennsylvania. What do I need to do to comply with the Pennsylvania Fertilizer Law?
In order to manufacturer or distribute fertilizer within Pennsylvania, you must first obtain a fertilizer license. The license must be obtained before manufacturing or distributing and must be renewed on or before July 1 of each year. There is a license fee of $50 for each facility and for each guarantor.
If you are manufacturing or distributing a specialty fertilizer, the guarantor must register each brand and grade of specialty fertilizer before being distributed in Pennsylvania. There is a registration fee of $100 per grade of each brand. A label must be submitted with the application. The registration must be renewed on or before July 1st of each year.
The new Fertilizer Law of July 2022 implemented new fertilizer labeling. What are the new requirements for fertilizer labeling?
The new labeling requirements take effect on January 11, 2024. All labeling requirements can be found by clicking here or by reading the Pennsylvania Fertilizer Law.
A list of just the additional requirements are as follows:
Commercially packaged and bulk fertilizer required label requirements:
- Derived from statement
- Directions for Use
Fertilizer labeled for turf and distributed for use in bulk or packages 1 pound or greater must include the following requirements:
- The product may not be applied near water, storm drains, or drainage ditches.
- The product may not be applied if heavy rain is expected.
- The product may only be applied to the intended application site.
- Material that lands on an impervious surface must be swept back onto the turf (not required for liquid).
Fertilizer not labeled for turf in bulk or packages 40 pounds or greater distributed to consumers must include a statement with the same requirements as turf fertilizer, except the impervious surface requirement does not apply.
Please refer to the fertilizer law for the complete list of requirements.
I want to use lawn fertilizer with phosphorus, however, I am struggling to find any in the retail stores. Why do lawn fertilizers no longer contain phosphorus?
Phosphorus is an essential plant nutrient; however, unlike nitrogen, it can bind to the soil encouraging nutrient runoff. Additionally, high levels of nutrients, like phosphorus, in water bodies promote excessive algal growth which has a negative impact on aquatic life.
Therefore, Pennsylvania and many other states have restricted phosphate application and content in fertilizers labeled for turf. However, if a soil test is conducted and indicates phosphate is needed, then a site-specific application rate of phosphate can be applied.
Is it possible to purchase a phosphorus containing fertilizer?
If phosphorus is needed to establish or repair your lawn or is recommended by a soil test, you can purchase fertilizers, like starter fertilizers, that contain phosphate wherever fertilizers are sold.
I would like to test my soil prior to applying fertilizer. Where can I find information on soil testing?
Soil test kits can be purchased at your local Penn State Extension office. The instructions for how to soil sample are included with the kit. You can also read about proper soil testing using the link on our Resources page.
As a homeowner, I prefer to apply my own lawn fertilizers, where I can I find more information on proper fertilizer application?
Penn State Extension has several publications that address nutrient need and application rates. These documents can be found on the Penn State Extension website or our Resources page.
What does it mean when a fertilizer contains “enhanced-efficiency” nitrogen or phosphorus?
Enhanced efficiency, more commonly known as slow release, is a formulation that controls the release of the nutrient by slowing the chemical or biological processes that convert the nutrient to a more soluble form. This assists in limiting availability to when the plant needs the nutrient and, thus, reducing nutrient losses.