A fertilizer is any substance, including fertilizer material, mixed fertilizer, specialty fertilizer and bulk fertilizer, containing one or more recognized plant nutrients which is used for its plant nutrient content and which is designed for use or claimed to have value in promoting plant growth, except unmanipulated animal and vegetable manure, agricultural liming materials, wood ashes, and other exempted materials.
A specialty fertilizer is a fertilizer distributed for non-farm use and fertilizer material primarily intended to supply plant nutrients other than nitrogen, phosphate, and soluble potash.
Multi-purpose products intended to supply plant nutrients, soil/plant amendments and/or liming materials must be labeled, licensed and registered (as required) under each respective law prior to being offered for sale, sold or distributed in Pennsylvania.
Specialty fertilizer products are regulated through the product registration to ensure consumer safety and efficacy.
Agricultural and specialty fertilizer samples are collected and analyzed to ensure products are currently registered (if specialty fertilizers), meet labeling requirements and are not adulterated.
The Fertilizer Law of 2022 places nutrient restrictions on Fertilizers labeled for use on turf. Phosphorus is prohibited in turf fertilizers, unless the product is an organic based fertilizer or the product is labeled as a starter fertilizer or to repair a turf area. If a slow release claim is made on nitrogen, then it must contain at least 20% enhanced efficiency nitrogen.
Applicators of fertilizer may not apply more than 0.7 pounds of nitrogen or 0.9 pounds of total nitrogen per 1000 square feet. Furthermore, applicators may not apply phosphorus to turf, unless establishing turf for the first time, repairing a turf area, or applying a phosphorus product that contains enhanced efficiency phosphorus or natural organic phosphorus source and the application rate does not exceed 0.25 pounds of phosphorus per 1000 square feet. These rate restrictions do not apply in situations where the applicator is following the requirements of a site-specific plan.
A license is required for each Pennsylvania manufacturing facility producing fertilizer offered for sale, sold or distributed in Pennsylvania, and each guarantor of fertilizer that is offered for sale or distributed in Pennsylvania. The annual licensing fee is fifty dollars ($50.00). In order to apply for a fertilizer license, please complete the Fertilizer License Application.
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Each brand and grade of specialty fertilizer shall be registered by the guarantor before being offered for sale, sold or distributed in Pennsylvania. The definition of specialty fertilizer was expanded to include fertilizer material primarily intended to supply secondary and micronutrients. The annual registration fee is one hundred dollars ($100.00) per brand and grade. Registrations shall be renewed by June 30 of each year. Specialty Fertilizer Registration Application.
Registrants must submit a product label before the initial registration of any specialty fertilizer and for any renewals. The Department may require scientific research data from an approved institution substantiating claims made by the registrant on the product labeling.
A late penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) may be assessed when the registration for a specialty fertilizer being distributed is not renewed by the annual renewal date.
Inspection Fee and Tonnage Report
The guarantors/manufacturers of all fertilizers offered for sale, sold or distributed in Pennsylvania shall pay semi-annually and not later than January 31st and July 31st of each year an inspection fee at the rate of seventeen cents ($.17) per ton. In no case, shall the inspection fee paid semi-annually amount to less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00).
A penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) or ten percent of the inspection fee, whichever is greater, will be assessed for any fee or report not submitted at the required time.
Semiannual Fertilizer Tonnage Report
Any fertilizer, including specialty fertilizer, distributed in Pennsylvania must contain the following label information in the following order:
- The net weight.
- The brand and grade.
- The guaranteed analysis showing the minimum percentage of plant food claimed in the following order and form:
- Total Nitrogen %
- Ammoniacial Nitrogen (if claimed or required) %
- Nitrate Nitrogen (if claimed or required) %
- Water Insoluble Nitrogen (if claimed or if the statement "organic" or "slow acting nitrogen" is used on the label) %
- Available Phosphoric Acid % or Available Phosphate %
- Soluble Potash %
- Additional Plant Nutrients as prescribed by regulation %
- The name and address of the person guaranteeing the fertilizer. There are additional labeling requirements that will take effect on January 11, 2024. Refer to §6805 of the Fertilizer Law for specific label requirements.
Adulteration and Misbranding
A fertilizer is deemed adulterated if it contains a substance in sufficient quantity to render it harmful when used according to the intended use or directions for use on the label.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who is required to be licensed to sell and distribute fertilizers in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania manufacturers and all guarantors (the name and address that appears on the label of the product) are required to be licensed.
- Do I need to be licensed to retail or wholesale someone else's fertilizers?
No. If you have manufacturer private label products with your name and address as the guarantor, then you would be required to be licensed.
- Is there individual product registration for fertilizers?
Yes. Each brand and grade of specialty (non-agricultural) fertilizer requires registration and all fertilizer materials primarily intended to supply secondary and micronutrients. Agricultural fertilizers do not require product registration.
- Are there labeling requirements for fertilizers?
Yes. All fertilizers have specific labeling requirements. In addition, product claims made in labeling (including literature and brochures distributed with the product) may require substantiation from an approved institution. You can contact your nearest regional office or the Harrisburg Office for more information or read the instructions for licensing under the Pennsylvania Fertilizer Act.