Manure Applicator Certification Program
Commercial Manure Applicators


In 2003, House File 644 was passed and required commercial manure businesses to have licenses. This law also allows for the substitution of employees and for annual education fees. The new law further defined the business and the employees by breaking the program into the following categories:

Commercial Manure Service:  A commercial manure service  (CMS) or business is a sole proprietor or business association engaged in the business of transporting, handling, storing or applying manure for a fee. A CMS must be licensed and must pay the annual business license due by March 1. The annual business license includes the certification fee of the business manager.

Commercial Manure Service Representative:  A commercial manure service representative or CMSR is a manager, employee, agent or contractor of a CMS, if the person is engaged in transporting, handling, storing or applying manure on behalf of the business. A representative must pay an annual certification fee and an annual education fee. 

A manager is a person actively involved in and makes management decisions in the operation of the business. A manager is also a representative. One manager per business must be designated on the application forms. In addition to the certification fees for the manager that are included in the CMS business license fee, the manager must also pay an annual education fee. 

Becoming Certified

Commercial manure service representative certification is accomplished in one of three ways:

  • Attend the 3-hour commercial satellite downlink scheduled annually in January and offered at most county Extension offices. See the list of 2015 locations in the link at the right.
  • View the 3-hour training DVD at your county Extension office, or
  • Schedule an appointment to take (and pass) the applicator exam at your local DNR field office.

In addition to completing one of the above requirements, you must also submit the appropriate fees and forms to the DNR.

Iowa State University Extension highly encourages all commercial manure applicators  attend training at one of the sites listed for the January 2015 training or to consult their local County Extension Office’s policy for “reshow” dates for these programs.  There is no charge for attending the workshops or viewing the video on the scheduled reshow date and time at the local County Extension Office. However, applicators requesting to view the training materials on dates not scheduled at the local County Extension Office will be charged a fee of $10 per person.  Anyone not able to attend training should schedule an appointment with their DNR field office to take the certification exam.

Uniform License Expiration Date and Certification Fees

The certification period for both business and the representative expires on March 1 annually regardless of when the business, manager or employee was originally certified. While certificates expire annually on March 1, renewal of the next license must occur prior to March 1 annually to avoid paying a late fee. Applications for certification (from previously certified applicators) received at the DNR postmarked after March 1, 2015 will be considered late and a late fee of $12.50 will be charged in addition to the certification fee and education fees.

A commercial manure service (business) must be licensed annually and the fee is $200. This fee is due annually by March 1st. The business license includes the certification fee of one designated manager. In addition, the manager will need to pay an annual education fee of $25.

The fee for commercial manure service representatives will be $75 annually.  In addition the commercial manure service representative will also be required to pay an annual education fee. The education fee for 2015 is $25.  Both the education fee and the certification fee are due by March 1st annually. There are no new certification or education fee changes for 2015.

For more information about certification fees, education fees, business fees and late fees and how businesses can substitute employees without additional certification fees, please see the links in the column to the right.

Please note- you may be charged a $10 fee at your county extension office if you choose to view the training video on a date and time that is not currently scheduled.  Please see an explanation of this policy above. 

All certification and education fees are paid directly to DNR. The $10 fee at the county office is a separate fee that is paid directly to the county office.

Training and Testing

Many local Extension offices will offer the three hours of annual training through a satellite downlink/webcast in January, click here for Jan. 5, 2016 Commercial Manure Applicator Training Locations. This program will serve as training for recertification or for initial certification.  Contact your local County Extension Office for more details regarding this program.   

You may also choose to renew your certification or become initially certified by taking a written exam. The exam is 50 questions, multiple-choice, true-false exam. Please call a DNR Field Office to schedule an appointment for the exam. 

Study guides are available for Commercial Manure Applicators and may be downloaded from the web at:
If you don’t have web access, you may ask for a copy at your local County Extension Office, but local fees for paper and copying may apply.  Please refer to PM 1778 when asking for the Commercial Manure Applicator Study Guide.

New employees of commercial manure applicators who are not yet certified can apply manure for the first 30 days of employment after they are hired if they are directly supervised by a certified commercial manure service representative. The supervisor must be physically present at the application site and be in sight or immediate communication with the new employee at all times. After 30 days, new employees must be certified. This 30 day exemption is only valid once and does not apply each time the employee is rehired.