By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- There are still openings available for December's Green Industry Best Management Practices workshop, specifically designed for commercial landscape workers.
Beginning Jan. 1, all commercial landscape businesses that apply fertilizer must obtain a limited certification urban landscape commercial fertilizer license, and one of the steps in obtaining that license is a six-hour workshops for all employees that apply fertilizer, said Christine Kelly-Begazo, extension agent for University of Florida's Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences in Indian River County.
The course, which is also available online, will be given at the Indian River County Fairgrounds expo hall on Dec. 12 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a registration fee of $30 per person.
"Most people prefer to take it in person so they can get it all done at once," Ms. Kelly-Begazo said.
Included in the registration fee is continental breakfast, lunch, snacks and program materials.
The course is usually offered once a month and rotates between Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.
The six-hour workshop includes an exam at the end of day which individuals must pass with a score of 75 percent or higher. Upon a passing grade, the University of Florida will mail a certification card, which is what must be presented should a code enforcement officer check businesses and individuals, Ms. Kelly-Begazo said.
"There is some confusion about what is required in the new fertilizer laws. The laws have been on the books for some time, but they won't take effect until January 2014," Ms. Kelly-Begazo said.
"The main reason this has come about is because of concerns about nonpoint pollution and storm water runoff. There is no hard data on whether the nutrient load is coming from fertilizer that is the thought. This course is to educate people and hopefully have less runoff into the lagoon," she said.
While not every landscape worker is required to have a certified fertilizer license, each worker is supposed to have completed best practices certification course, such as what is being offered in December, Ms. Kelly-Begazo said.
In Indian River County, all commercial fertilizer applicators must provide proof of completion of the appropriate training program to the Indian River County Tax Collector's office by April 11, 2014.
The county has set forward various fines for non-compliance, including a $500 fine for not having a license or a certification.
The training is regulated by the Florida Department of Consumer and Agricultural Services, and the department will also have some form of enforcement as well, she said.
Indian River County commissioners have also said they would hire to specifically target this area of code enforcement, as well as offer education opportunities for the public about the fertilizer ordinance and lagoon health.
To register or for more information, contact Ms. Kelly-Begazo at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at www.eventbrite.com/e/green-industry-bestmanagement-practices-training-tickets-8333801625
For more information about Indian River County's fertilizer and landscape management ordinance, visit www.ircgov.com/Lagoon/Fertilizer/index.html.