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Manure Applicator Certification Program

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State law requires most 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.
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Certification: Although the specific requirements differ, manure applicators can become certified by either taking training or by passing a test. Both certification and training fees are charged.

Iowa State University Extension provides training opportunities for manure applicators. For information on study guide materials, training events and educational program details, please see the Manure Applicators Certification Program. The DNR field offices offer testing sessions. The DNR strongly encourages applicators to attend the training sessions to keep up with current law changes and technologies. Prospective applicators should call and make an appointment with the local Extension office or DNR field office to schedule a training session or a test.

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:


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