Does Your Lawn Guy Need a License?

If your lawn and landscape care professional applies fertilizer as a part of his/her services, then the answer is yes. Since January 2014, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has required that all commercial fertilizer applicators have a Limited Fertilizer License.

UF/IFAS File Photo.

UF/IFAS File Photo.

So what does FDACS define as a fertilizer? You may be surprised at what is considered a fertilizer under the statute that governs this license. The following are included:

  • Lawn or landscape fertilizers
  • Organic fertilizers
  • Any product that contains plant nutrients including compost
  • Lime and all other products that influence soil acidity/alkalinity
  • Substances that promote plant growth
  • Any other substance that provides a soil corrective measure

In order to obtain this license, lawn care professionals attend a science-based training session called Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMPs) that teach environmentally friendly landscaping practices in order to protect Florida’s water quality. These practices also save the homeowner money, time, and effort; increase the health and beauty of the home landscape; and protect the health of your family, pets, and the environment. The training is led by UF/IFAS Extension professionals. Attendees must pass a post-training exam and then can receive a license valid for 4 years.

In order to check whether your lawn care professional has a Limited Fertilizer License, check the FDACS site here. Every applicator must have his/her individual license.


4Rs of Fertilizer Application

4Rs of Fertilizer Application

4RSystemThe old cliché is “April showers bring May flowers”, but April deluges create weak plants and yellow grass. You were following the UF/IFAS recommendations and waited until April 15th to fertilize. You followed the Urban Turf Rule and applied a low-phosphate fertilizer with slow-release nitrogen. Yet, your grass is yellow and the shrubs haven’t put on any new growth. What happened? The 18” + of rainfall that we experienced at the end of April flushed nearly everything out of the soil, including any fertilizer you applied. Nitrogen and potassium are highly leachable. Phosphorus is also depleted under saturated soil conditions.

If you haven’t submitted a soil test since the storm, now is the time to do so. It’s time to apply a summer fertilizer, but it needs to address all the nutrient deficiencies created from the excess rain. Soil test kits can be obtained from your County Extension office. When you get the results from the University of Florida Lab, it is important to remember the 4 Rs when applying fertilizer. It needs to be the Right Source, applied at the Right Rate, at the Right Time, and over the Right Place.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been developed to allow individuals to make conscientious decisions regarding fertilizer selection that will reduce the risk of water contamination. The Right Source for a BMP-compliant fertilizer is one that contains a portion of slow-release (water insoluble) nitrogen with little to no phosphorus, and a potassium level similar to the nitrogen percentage (e.g. 15-0-15, that contains 5% coated nitrogen). However, a soil test is the only way to accurately identify the specific nutrients your landscape is lacking. Many soil tests indicate a need for phosphate and currently it is illegal to apply more than 0.25 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. without a soil test verifying the need.

Next, the fertilizer must be applied at the Right Rate. In order to do that, you must know the square footage of your property and how much you can spread using the settings on your equipment. Individuals walk at varied speeds and the product recommended rates are based on 1,000 sq.ft. areas. For information on calibrating application equipment refer to fertbagthe publication, “How to Calibrate Your Fertilizer Spreader”. Using the 15-0-15 fertilizer mentioned earlier, the Right Rate for one application would be 3 pounds per 1,000 sq.ft.. That 35 pound bag is all that is needed for a nearly 12,000 sq.ft. yard (a large corner lot).

The Right Time for applying fertilizer is when the plants are actively growing and beginning to show nutrient deficiencies. Summer, when rainfall and irrigation is frequent, is often a typical application time. The Right Place is only on living plant areas. Be cautious to avoid getting fertilizer on the sidewalk, driveway and street. A deflector on your spreader is very helpful. Otherwise, be sure to sweep or blow the fertilizer back onto the grass or into the landscape beds. Avoid having fertilizer end up in any water body.


Green Industry Update: Fall 2013

Green Industry Update: Fall 2013



Pesticide training:

Being licensed means complying with the law – but it also means you can run your business better and smarter. The licensing course will provide you with information you will use every day – on issues like laws, safety, labeling, and integrated pest management.  Even more, having a license will give you extra credibility with your clients, since they will know you have the expertise to maintain their property, and the environment, too.

Which License do I need?  Try the link to figure out which license is for you.  If you are still confised call your local extension agent and they will happy to assist you.

Limited Commercial Maintenance & Limited Lawn and Ornamental

  • Sept 17th – Okaloosa County
  • Oct. 18th – Santa Rosa County
  • Nov. 1st – Escambia County (4 hours CEU license renewal only)
  • Nov. 8th – Escambia County
  • Nov. 19th – Okaloosa County
  • Dec. 17th – Leon County

Other Pesticide trainings:

  • Sept. 26th – Okaloosa County, General Standards CORE & Ornamental and Turf
  • Dec. 10th – Okaloosa County, General Standards CORE & Right of Way


Green Industry – Best Management Practices (GI-BMP)

Florida Statute 482.1562 states that all commercial fertilizer applicators must have a license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) by January 1, 2014. To get this license, each Green Industry worker must be trained in the GI-BMPs and receive a certificate of completion from UF/IFAS and FDEP. Additionally, many non-commercial Green Industry applicators or other workers are required to pass the training by local ordinances or voluntarily participate in the program to better serve their clients.

  • Sept. 19th – Bay County
  • Oct. 1st – Okaloosa County
  • Oct. 4th – Leon County
  • Nov. 13th – Okaloosa County
  • Nov. 15th – Santa Rosa County
  • Dec. 11th – Jackson County


For Phone numbers to the County extension offices go to and click on the county you wish to contact.

Green Industry – BMP Training

Green Industry – BMP Training

As of January 2014 all companies applying fertilizer, commercially “for hire”, will be required to hold a fertilizer applicators license.  In order to obtain this license you must first become GI-BMP certified.

2014 isn’t that far away.  Take the time to attend a class this fall.  Don’t wait to the last minute and have to scramble to find a training close to home.

Upcoming Training opportunities in the panhandle:

September 25, 2012 in Milton 850-623-3868 – $20 agenda

October 25, 2012 in Crestview 850-689-5850 – $20 agenda

November 9, 2012 in Cantonment   850-475-5230 $30

(To register call the numbers next to the event you would like to attend)

What is the GI-BMP program?

  • The GI-BMP workshop is designed to provide training in Best Management Practices (BMPs) for anyone working in the lawn, landscape, pest control, or municipal grounds areas.
  • The Best Management Practices are focused on reducing non-point source pollution resulting from fertilization or pesticide application.
  • At the end of this training you will be given a post-test to determine knowledge learned. If the post-test is successfully completed, you will be mailed a Green Industries BMP certificate of completion.
  • Some cities & counties require this certification before you can bid on jobs or have commercial customers.
  • If you also need pesticide CEUs, get your signed CEU attendance form before you leave the class.