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Manufacterers and Guarantors of Fertilizer

If you are a manufacturer, guarantor, or applicator of fertilizer within Pennsylvania, you are required to comply with all applicable requirements within the Pennsylvania Fertilizer Law (Chapter 68 of Act 83). A summary of key aspects of the Law are provided below.

What requirements must be met prior to manufacturing or distributing fertilizer in Pennsylvania?

All manufacturers of fertilizer products must be licensed. In addition, all specialty fertilizers must also be registered.

For more information on licensing and registration click here.


What are the label requirements for fertilizer distributed in Pennsylvania?


The guarantor must place on or affix to the fertilizer container a label that is legible and conspicuous. The label must contain the following information:

    • The brand and grade of the fertilizer. Grade is not required if no primary nutrients are claimed.
    • The guaranteed analysis showing the minimum percentage of plant food claimed.
    • A statement of where the material was derived.
    • Directions for use.
    • The name and address of the guarantor.
    • The net weight.

Distribution of bulk fertilizers require the label information to be provided to the purchaser in writing at the time of delivery.

Turf fertilizers distributed in bulk or in packages one pound or greater must also include the following restrictions written legibly and in a prominent manner;

    • The product may not be applied near water, storm drains or drainage ditches.
    • Do not apply product if a heavy rain is expected.
    • The material may only be applied to intended application site.
    • Material that lands on an impervious surface must be swept back onto the turf.  This does not apply to liquid fertilizer or non-turf fertilizers.

Non-turf fertilizers distributed in bulk or packages 40 pounds or greater must comply with turf fertilizer requirements, excluding the impervious surface restriction.

    • Fertilizers containing pesticides are exempt from providing the application restriction statements on the label, but must instead include the environmental hazard statement recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.

      • This is a sample label and should not be used as a template.

Are there component restrictions for fertilizer labeled for turf?

The total nitrogen content of all fertilizer labeled for turf must consist of at least 20% enhanced efficiency nitrogen.

Fertilizer labeled for turf may not contain phosphorus, unless the fertilizer is a natural organic or organic-based fertilizer.

Exemptions to these component restrictions apply to fertilizer labeled for turf repair or establishment and to liquid fertilizers.

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 ft2.
    • 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.