Farmer Training & Certification (FTC) workshops are designed for producers who are interested in becoming certified to write nutrient management plans for their own operations. The training consists of two days (in most locations) or as an online training course at your own pace over the course of 5 weeks. Fill out this FTC interest form if you would like to be directly notified of course offerings when they are announced.
During the first part of the training, producers learn the fundamentals of nutrient management planning and have the opportunity to work through a model nutrient management plan. Take home study materials are given to help in preparation for the nutrient management certification exam, which is held several weeks later.
After passing the exam, producers use detailed information specific to their operation (such as farm size, farm map(s), soil and manure analysis results) to write a nutrient management plan for their own operation. Upon completion of the plan, producers are certified by the Maryland Department of Agriculture as certified farm operators (CFOs).
Farmer Training and Certification classes geared toward specific types of operations are offered regionally throughout Maryland during the fall and winter. Specific types of operations covered include:
- Diverse Operations (Materials for Frederick Class and Online Class)
- Poultry Operations (Materials for Wye Class)
- Intensive Small-Scale Food Production Operations (Materials for Baltimore City Class)
FTC Class Materials
The FTC for Diverse Operations module encompasses all scenarios from fertilizer-only operations and those operations having animals and utilizing manure.
The FTC for Poultry Operations module focuses on those operations that have poultry houses and apply litter.
Below you will find worksheets used in the FTC Diverse and Poultry Training sessions.
- Worksheet 3-1 (Converting to MD FIVs from Soil Test Analyses from Selected Other Labs)
- Worksheet 4-1 (Estimating Plant Available Nitrogen in Manure)
- Worksheet 4-2 (Manure Quantity Estimation for Solid Manure)
- Worksheet 4-3 (Manure Quantity Estimation for Integrated Poultry Operations)
- Worksheet 5-1 (Manure N Credits for Prior Years)
- Worksheet 5-2 (N Recommendation Worksheet for Crop Production Using Manure and Commercial Fertilizer
- Worksheet 5-3 (N, P2O5, K2O Recommendation Summary)
- Worksheet 5-4 (Calculating Manure Application Rate to Meet Crop N Recommendation)
- Worksheet 5-5 (Calculating Manure Application Rate to Meet Crop P Removal)
- Worksheet 5-6 (Calculating Quantity of Nutrients from a Pre-Set Manure Application Rate)
- Worksheet 5-7 (Calculating Additional Fertilizer Requirements When Using Manure)
- Worksheet 5-8 (Manure Utilization and Allocation)
- Worksheet 7-1 (Calculating the Quantity of Commercial Fertilizer Required to Meet a Nutrient Recommendation)
- Worksheet 7-2 (Calibrating Fertilizer Application Equipment)
- Worksheet 7-3 (Calibrating a Manure Spreader Using the Weight-area Method)
- Worksheet 7-4 (Calibrating a Manure Spreader Using the Load-area Method)
The Farmer Training and Certification (FTC) for Small Intensive Food Production Operations class worksheets are attached below.
- Worksheet 3-1 (Converting to Maryland Fertility Index Values (FIVs) from Soil Test Analyses from Selected Other Laboratories)
- Worksheet 3-2 (Interpreting Soilless Media Tests)
- Worksheet 4-1 (Estimating Plant Available Nitrogen (PAN) in Manure)
- Worksheet 5-1 (Manure Nitrogen Credits for Prior Years)
- Worksheet 5-2 (Nitrogen Recommendation Worksheet for Crop Production Using Manure and Commercial Fertilizer)
- Worksheet 5-3 (Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potash Recommendation Summary)
- Worksheet 5-4 (Calculating Manure/Compost Application Rate Requires to Meet the Crop Nitrogen Recommendation)
- Worksheet 5-5 (Calculating the Manure/Compost Application Rate to Meet the Crop Phosphorus Removal)
- Worksheet 5-6 (Calculating the Quantity of Nutrients from a Pre-set Manure/Compost Application Rate)
- Worksheet 5-7 (Calculating Additional Fertilizer Requirements when Using Manure)
- Worksheet 7-1 (Calculating Rate of an Organic Source to Meet a Nitrogen Recommendation)
- Worksheet 7-2 (Calculate the Nitrogen Rate of a Typical Application of an Organic Nutrient Source)
- Worksheet 7-3 (Calculate the Tonnage of a Purchased Organic Source)
- FTC Diverse Skill Sheets with Answers (January 2020 Update)
- FTC Poultry Skill Sheets with Answers (January 2020 Update)
- FTC Small Intensive Food Production Skill Sheets with Answers (March 2022 Update)
- Appendix A- Agricultural Crop Recommendations
- Appendix B-Vegetable and Fruit Crop Recommendations
- Appendix C- Lime Recommendations
"The FTC Program was an excellent introduction to a very complex issue. I can't even imagine the headaches someone with a very diverse and changing operation must go through every year. However, I believe that the FTC training provided enough background information, hands-on experience, and expert personal help to allow someone to make a very good plan for a diverse operation. Even if a person decided to hire an outside planner, the program would give the farmer a good sense of what was going on, the proper questions to ask, and what alternative approaches might be possible. One of the advantages to the program was that it, in some ways, separated the enforcer from the teacher. Many farmers I know are very leery of having any government interference or input or even knowledge of their farming operations. While FTC could never change the way farmers feel about government interference, it does at least provide a somewhat non-threatening forum for discussion and increased understanding of the issues involved." - Harry Ford, organic vegetable producer and President of the Maryland Small Farm Co-op
"Extension's FTC course made the burden of compliance somewhat easier to bear. Allowing me as a dairy owner/operator to write my own nutrient management plan is much more convenient and useful than using an Extension or private planner. I thought the training course was adequate without being difficult." - Lynn Strite, dairy producer, Washington County, MD
"I received a notice that the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension was offering a two-day course for horse pasture-based operators to be certified to write their own nutrient management plans. Being one who always likes to do things himself, I signed on. The prospect of getting off the farm for two days seemed pretty appealing also. I think I learned more about soil and what's required to grow things in it those two days than in my entire sophomore biology class. Maybe it's because I'm 20 years older and willing to listen but I really got a lot out of the course. I walked away with a better understanding of the need for nutrient management and the knowledge to improve my farm's pasture. The software you learn to use makes it easy to keep track of what is required to maintain the plan." - Billy Boniface, General Manger and Partner of Bonita Farm, Harford County, MD
Contact the Agricultural Nutrient Management Program College Park Staff or the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Management Program (410-841-5959) today for more information on how to become a certified farm operator. You may also fill out the FTC interest form to help us gauge the number of interested farmers for our online or in-person offerings.