Figure 1. Watersheds and Associated Counties Named in SB 1 (in Yellow).
Figure 1. Watersheds and Associated Counties Named in SB 1 (in Yellow).

New regulations for manure and fertilizer application in Ohio started on July 3, 2015, when Senate Bill Number 1 came into effect. The legislation affects nitrogen and phosphorus application whether applied as manure or granular fertilizers. Parts of the regulations are targeted specifically to define watersheds that encompass the Western Basin of Lake Erie while one provision is effective statewide.

The text below summarizes important provisions but does not substitute for the legislative text which is found in Ohio revised code sections 6109.10, 903.40, 905.326, 905.327, 1511.10, 1511.11, 3745.50 and 6111.32 plus subsequent rule making by the state agencies. These rules are in addition to the Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification program which began in September, 2014.

Fertilizer application restrictions (in the western basin only)

(Administered through Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA))

For applications of fertilizer in the western basin, a person may not apply fertilizer, defined as nitrogen or phosphorous, under these conditions:

  1. On snow-covered or frozen soil, or
  2. When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation, or
  3. In a granular form when the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one inch in a twelve-hour period,

unless the fertilizer is injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application or applied onto a growing crop.

Manure application restrictions (in the western basin only)

(Administered through Ohio Department of Natural Resources till 12/31/2015 then ODA)

A person may not surface apply manure in the western basin under any of the following circumstances:

  1. On snow-covered or frozen soil;
  2. When the top two inches of soil are saturated from precipitation;
  3. When the local weather forecast for the application area contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24 hour period.

unless the manure is injected into the ground, incorporated within 24 hours of surface application, applied onto a growing crop, or if in the event of an emergency, the chief of the division of soil and water resources or the chief’s designee provides written consent and the manure application is made in accordance with procedures established in the United States department of agriculture natural resources conservation service practice standard code 590 prepared for this state.

Facilities currently permitted as Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and Certified Livestock Managers (CLM) must continue to follow more restrictive criteria based on soil hydrologic classification noted in the facility permit.

Exemption request process for small and medium operations. 

Small and medium agricultural operations may apply for a temporary exemption from the law’s restrictions on manure applications.  Size of operation is defined in Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and is summarized in Table 2. The chief of the division of soil and water resources may grant an exemption of up to one year for a medium agricultural operation and up to two years for a small operation, if the operation is working toward compliance.

An exempted operation may request technical assistance to reach compliance, and will not be subject to civil penalties for violations.  The law defines small and medium agricultural operations in the same way as the Livestock Environmental Permitting program, based on the number of livestock according to species.

Complaints and Penalties

The trigger for an investigation is a complaint by any person or information received by the state authority that a violation has occurred. Both the Fertilizer and Manure rules give the appropriate state authority the ability to assess civil penalties that shall not exceed $10,000 per violation. The right to a hearing and other administrative procedures are defined.

Certification requirements for persons using manure from Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFFs). (Applies statewide) 

To utilize manure from a concentrated animal feeding facility that is regulated under ODA’s Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting, a person must either hold a Certified Livestock Manager license or be certified under Ohio’s Agricultural Fertilizer Applicator Certification program.  The provision pertains only if applying the manure for agricultural production on more than 50 acres.

Obtaining Precipitation Information to Meet 12 and 24 Hour Forecast Criteria

New Ohio regulations in targeted watersheds in the Western Lake Erie Basin require considering ground conditions and predicted rainfall prior to granular fertilizer and manure applications started on 7/3/2015. For granular fertilizer, applications should not occur when the local forecast contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one inch in a twelve-hour period.

For manure, application should not occur when the local forecast contains greater than a 50% chance of precipitation exceeding one-half inch in a 24 hour period. It is recommended that forecast information be printed off prior to planned applications. This provides the applicator proof of reviewing the forecast if actual rainfall exceeds the predicted rainfall.