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Your Pesticide Applicator License Is Not Your Fertilizer License (and Vice-Versa)

Note: This post does not apply to homeowners caring for their own lawns; it applies to commercial and public applicators only.

I often get questions about pesticide licenses, and for good reason: it gets confusing. Florida regulates licenses based less on what you spray and more on where you spray it. For example, a golf course employee who holds an Ornamental and Turf license and another employee who holds an Aquatics license are both authorized to purchase the same chemicals, but the Ornamental and Turf applicator can’t touch the water and the Aquatics applicator can’t touch the turf. While pesticide licenses may differ in approved application sites and chemicals a license holder can purchase, one thing they all have in common is that they have absolutely nothing to do with fertilizer.

The Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification

Fertilizer application rules in Florida are governed separately from pesticide application rules, and a pesticide license does not authorize you to apply fertilizer. Instead, all commercial fertilizer applicators must be certified by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to make any type of fertilizer application to commercial turf or ornamental areas and/or the turf or ornamental areas of parks or fields (other than agricultural areas) and/or the turf or ornamental area of any residential property. This certification is called a Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification. If you are commercial (non-government) company who gets paid to apply fertilizer to a site that isn’t an agricultural operation, you need it. Furthermore, each person in the company that applies fertilizer must hold a license even if your company is a licensed Pest Control Operator.

A Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification alone does not authorize you to apply a combination pesticide and fertilizer such as a turf grass weed-and-feed product. You must also have a separate pesticide license that allows you to apply pesticides to turf grass.

Getting the Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification is fairly simple, especially compared to getting a pesticide applicator license, and can be accomplished in a few steps:

  • Attend a Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) course and get at least a 75% passing score on the exam following the class to gain a GI-BMP Certificate.
  • Go to the FDACS Pesticide License portal at https://aesecomm.fdacs.gov.
      • Select “Structural/Residential Pest Control Chapter 482”
      • Select “New Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer”
      • Fill out the form, then submit your GI-BMP Certificate and a $25 license fee to FDACS.

The Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification is good for 4 years and can be renewed with 4 CEUs (2 of which must address fertilizer best management practices) and a $25 fee.

Know Your Ordinances

Every county in Florida has their own fertilizer ordinance that regulates how both commercial applicators and private citizens may apply fertilizer. Some cities and municipalities have their own ordinances as well. As a fertilizer applicator, it is your job to make sure that you are following the fertilizer ordinance for the application site. Ordinances may limit what kinds of fertilizer you can apply and may limit or prohibit fertilizer application at certain times of the year.

While the Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer Applicator Certification is designed for commercial applicators, some city and county government fertilizer ordinances require their employees to get one and maintain it. Other counties may not require a fertilizer certification for government employees but will still require a GI-BMP Certificate. Regardless of what your local fertilizer ordinances require, I do suggest attending a GI-BMP course every four years to make sure you are up to date on the latest best management practices. Doing so will help ensure that Florida’s environment remains pristine for years to come.