Requirements for Agricultural Operation Planning (AOP) Certificate (For Producers of Agricultural Source Materials Preparing Their Own Strategy and Plan)


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The information contained in this document is derived from the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 and O. Reg 267/03 as amended. Every effort has been made to make it as accurate as possible, but is not authoritative. Please refer to the e-Laws website or the official volumes printed by Publications Ontario for the authoritative text of the act.

Overview of Agricultural Operation Planning Certificate

An Agricultural Operation Planning (AOP) Certificate is required if you are preparing a Nutrient Management Strategy (NMS) and/or Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) for an agricultural operation that you own, operate or are an employee of. Your certificate number is required on the NMS/Ps you prepare. Forms used to register a farm operation under the Nutrient Management Act must also include your certificate number.

The skills and knowledge that are required for the AOP certificate can be found in The Agricultural Operation Planning Certificate Core Competencies guide, available online.

Certificates are valid for five years.

If owners/managers of agricultural operations choose to hire a consultant to develop their NMS/P, the consultant must have a valid Agricultural Operation Strategy or Plan Development (AOSPD) Certificate.

Certification Requirements

1. Take the Courses

There are two required courses for the AOP Certificate, which are offered in both English and French:

  • Introduction to Nutrient Management
  • Regulation and Protocols

You must have taken an up-to-date course to have it applied to your certification requirements. Call the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus to make sure past courses you have taken qualify at 1-855-648-1444.

Course Schedule

To view the schedule, visit the University of Guelph's Nutrient Management courses page.

To register for any of the courses in this suite, call the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus to register at 1-855-648-1444 or go online to University of Guelph's Nutrient Management registration page.

Introduction to Nutrient Management

This two-day course outlines the basic agronomic principles underlying the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 and O. Reg. 267/03. It is highly recommended that you attend this course before taking the Regulation and Protocols Course.

Effective September 30, 2012, we no longer accept the following as an equivalency:

  • Participation at a Third Edition Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) course; completion of a peer reviewed Environmental Farm Plan and passing a quiz.
Regulation and Protocols

This two-day course is designed for farmers and agricultural source materials (ASM) consultants. The course provides an overview of the Nutrient Management Act, including key definitions and requirements of the Act, Regulation and Protocols. The course also reviews the basics of preparing a NMS/P, implementing a NMS/P and compliance under the NMA.

There are two ways to take this course:

Option 1 - Regulation and Protocols Course - Classroom version

This two-day classroom course is offered at sites across Ontario on a set schedule.

Option 2 - Regulation and Protocols Course - Online version

This version of the course offers the learner an opportunity to study from home at their own pace and convenience using their own computer and an Internet connection.

For more information regarding the courses, visit the Nutrient Management Training Course Overview.

Applying for the Certificate

After you fulfill the requirements, mail a completed application to the address indicated on the form.

Certificate Conditions

Under section 108 of the Regulation, the Director may issue a certificate or licence subject to any conditions that he/she considers appropriate. This may include conditions that are consented to by the applicant, imposed by a Director or ordered by the Tribunal.

Refusal to Issue a Certificate or Licence

Under s. 109(1), the Director may refuse to issue a certificate or licence if:

  • the applicant is in contravention of the Act or this Regulation, or is in breach of a condition of another certificate or licence issued under Part X;
  • the applicant is not competent to carry on the activity that would be authorized by the certificate or licence; or
  • the past conduct of the applicant affords reasonable grounds for belief that the activity that would be authorized by the certificate or licence will not be carried on with honesty and integrity.

Certificate Renewals

Certificates are valid for five years from the date of issue. To obtain another certificate, applicants will need to take the Regulations and Protocols Course. However, it is strongly recommended that the Intro to Nutrient Management Course is taken again as a refresher.

It is your responsibility to know the expiry date of your certificate and to take the required action to obtain another certificate. It is suggested that you begin the process well in advance of your certificate expiry date to allow you the opportunity to take courses.

For a copy of the renewal application form, visit the Application for Agricultural Operation Planning Certificate page.

Additional Expectations

Stay Current in Your Field

Certificate holders are expected to keep up to date with the nutrient management legislation and actively pursue additional learning opportunities to remain competent in the field of nutrient management. This may include update sessions offered by OMAF and MRA.

Performance Guidelines

A set of performance guidelines has been developed by OMAF and MRA that goes beyond the regulatory requirements, skills and knowledge listed in the core competencies. These guidelines are intended to provide consistent guiding principles for AOP Certificate holders that reflect best management practices for the industry. They outline practices followed by certificate holders providing good professional services to their clients. AOP Certificate holders are encouraged to follow these guidelines in their daily practice.

Other Considerations

A pre-approval site visit may be conducted for on a NMS/P submitted by the AOP Certificate holder.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 9 August 2011
Last Reviewed: 22 April 2013