State law requires manure applicators in Iowa to be certified. Producers who remove and land apply manure from a confinement feeding operation with an animal unit capacity of more than 500 animal units must be certified or use a commercial manure applicator. Producers with small animal feeding operations (500 or less animal unit capacity) or open feedlots may land apply manure without being certified. All manure applicators in Iowa, regardless of certification requirements, must follow state laws when land applying manure.
The DNR is responsible for the certification program and offers certification for two types of manure applicators:
- Confinement site manure applicators, who are essentially private applicators, applying manure from their own confinement feeding operations that have more than 500 animal units, and not charging a fee; and
- Commercial manure applicators. Commercial manure applicators (aka commercial manure service representatives) must be associated with a licensed commercial manure service. A commercial manure service is a sole proprietor or business association engaged in the business of transporting, handling, storing or applying manure for a fee.
Certification: Manure applicators qualify for certification using several different methods depending on what is most convenient and appropriate.
Prospective applicators should call and make an appointment with their local Extension & Outreach office or DNR field office to schedule a training session or a test. Both certification and training fees are charged.
The DNR now offers manure applicators online payment processing and information regarding their renewals, expiration dates, and fees. This information is available at the Manure Applicator Certification Application.
Land application of manure
All manure applicators in Iowa must follow state laws when land applying manure. Most of those laws are designed to keep manure out of waters of the state and away from environmentally sensitive areas such as sinkholes or high quality water resources. Some of the separation distances that must be maintained are designed to prevent odors from reaching neighboring homes, businesses, schools, churches and public use areas.
For more information about the laws that apply to manure application, see Manure Control and the following fact sheets:
Separation distances for land application of manure
High quality water resources
More Information on Types of Manure Applicators
- Confinement Site Manure Applicators
Confinement site manure applicators are certified for three years. Applicators can become certified initially by either taking a two-hour training session or passing a test. If the applicator becomes certified by training, then the applicator must complete a two-hour training annually during each of the three years covered by the certificate. If one session of training is missed, a make-up test must be passed before the next three-year round of certification begins.
All confinement site applicator certificates expire on December 31 of the third year of the certificate. Certified confinement site applicators can continue to apply manure in January and February of the year following expiration of their certificate, but must renew their certificate by March 1. If the application is received (or postmarked) after March 1, no manure may be applied until the certificate is renewed. A late fee of $12.50 will also be charged for late applications.
The certification fee for confinement site manure applicators is $100 paid once every three years. In addition to the certification fee, applicators are charged an education fee each time they attend a training session or take a test. For more information, see the confinement site manure applicator fact sheet. For a list of training locations and dates see Extension's Manure Applicators Certification Program. To schedule a training session, contact your county Extension & Outreach office. To schedule a testing time, contact one of the DNR field offices.
- Commercial Manure Applicator Service Representatives
Commercial manure applicators are representatives of a commercial manure applicator service. The applicator must be certified on an annual basis and the company must be licensed annually. Commercial manure services and representatives must be certified regardless of the source of the manure (confinement or open feedlot) or the size of operation.
For the one-year commercial certification program, the commercial manure service representative may qualify for certification by taking a three-hour training session, by passing a test or by watching a three-hour training video. A statewide training session for commercial applicators is offered early in January via satellite downlink.
The license fee for a commercial manure service is $200 annually. Commercial certificates expire on March 1 each year. The license fee is due on or before March 1 and includes the certification fee for one manager. The manager must complete the training or pass a test to become certified. An education fee will also be charged for the manager of the commercial manure service.
All other commercial manure service representatives must complete a training session or pass a test to become certified. Certificates are issued annually and a fee of $75 is charged. In addition to the certification fee, applicators are charged an education fee each time they attend a training session or take a test. Certificates must be renewed on or before March 1.
For more information, see the commercial manure service applicator fact sheet. For a list of training locations and dates, see the Manure Applicators Certification Program. To schedule a training session, contact the appropriate county Extension & Outreach office. To schedule a testing time, contact one of the DNR field offices.
Managers: Please report changes in employee status (terminations or substitutions) within 30 days to the DNR using DNR form 542-4023.