James Goatley Jr.1, Mark Sumner2, Patricia Hipkins3, Tim P. Sexton4, Andres Alvarez5, Larry Nichols5, Erin Williams5 and Donald DeLorme5, (1)Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (2)AHNR Information Technology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (3)Entomology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (4)Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Chesterfield, VA (5)Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Richmond, VA
The Virginia State Legislature passed a governmental mandate in 2011 related to ongoing federal government-driven Chesapeake Bay cleanup initiatives. The Virginia mandate requires all commercial fertilizer applicators and fertilizer applicators of state and/or municipal properties to become a Certified Fertilizer Applicator (CFA). Certification requires demonstrated competency in 10 categories that cover the intent of the law, the selection, programming and application of fertilizer, equipment calibration, and best management practices in environmental protection. A program called Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training (FACT) was developed through a cooperative effort of Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR). The training consists of 10 online, self-paced modules that are each accompanied by an exam in which a participant must pass with a minimum score of 70% in order to become a CFA in Virginia. Passing the exams for all modules meets knowledge requirements to receive certification from VDACS. Individuals who successfully complete all modules receive proof of satisfactory completion of the training, which can then be submitted to VDACS as part of the online application to obtain a CFA certificate. Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training (FACT) utilizes Scholar, Virginia Tech’s course management system, to manage access to the training, present training materials, conduct automated online testing, and track participant progress throughout the training. Online presentations were created with Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Presenter. In addition, several videos were produced to illustrate label interpretation and basic fertilizer calculations. Technology services for the project were provided by the information technology group for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The training and testing program can be found online at http://www.ext.vt.edu/fact .