The Office of Indiana State Chemist will continue to accept comments from the public until Jan. 7 on a proposed state-mandated rule regulating use of fertilizers on farms.

The OISC will consider the comments in finalizing its rule and submit it to the Indiana attorney general for review. The rule then would go to the governor for signature and become effective one year later.

"This is a baseline document - not necessarily an ending point but something that hopefully will be a basis for future needs as they are defined," said State Chemist Robert Waltz. "We feel that this is a very positive step. Without this, there is no regulation in this subject area."

The state Legislature charged the OISC with the task of developing the requirements. The proposed rule specifies how fertilizer can be safely stored on farms until its use - called staging - and how far from waterways and wells it can be applied and under what conditions, such as weather.

Licensed distributors and applicators of inorganic and organic fertilizer, including livestock and poultry manure, would be required to keep records on the amount of fertilizer distributed and where it was applied, among other information.

The state chemist's office held a public hearing on its proposed rule, LSA Document 11-364 creating rule 355 IAC 8, on Dec. 6 at Purdue University, where the office is based. Comments now will be accepted only in writing. They can be sent to Michael Hancock, the OISC's fertilizer administrator, at hancockmr@purdue.edu , faxed to 765-494-4331 or mailed to Office of Indiana State Chemist, 175 S. University St., West Lafayette, IN 47907-2063.

The proposed rule was developed by a committee composed of representatives of the OISC, the livestock industry, farmers, members of the Fertilizer Advisory Board, Purdue University faculty and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The requirements are designed to keep fertilizer material out of waterways and wells and be consistent with IDEM regulations involving water contamination.

"The idea is that the standards of IDEM and the OISC would be very similar or identical so that there wouldn't be two different sets of rules, which could cause confusion," Waltz said.

The proposed rule can read online at http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/20110727-IR-355110364PRA.xml.html or located through the link provided on the state chemist's website ( http://www.isco.purdue.edu ). Copies also are available in Room A151 at the state chemist's office or at the Legislative Services Agency, Indiana Government Center North, 100 N. Senate Ave., Room N201, Indianapolis.