Soil Fertility Guide

The Fertilizers Act and Quality Standards


In Canada, fertilizer and supplement products sold and/or imported are regulated by The Fertilizers Act and Regulations, which is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The primary purpose of this federal legislation is to ensure these products are safe, efficacious and properly labelled. This protects the farmer and the general public against potential health hazards and fraud in marketing.

Product Types and Requirements

Major (N, P and K) and lesser (Ca, Mg and S) nutrient fertilizers are not generally required to be registered, but are still regulated under The Fertilizers Act. These products are assessed to ensure that sufficient amounts of nutrients are delivered to the plant/crop according to label directions. Foliar applied major nutrients are subject to review. There is one form of major nutrient fertilizer which is an exception to the rule and is required to be registered; low analysis farm fertilizers (%N + %P 2O 5 + %K 2O is less than 24%) that are not customer requested.

Micronutrient (B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo and Zn) fertilizers require registration and must demonstrate that they meet label claims for guaranteed nutrients. A fertilizer containing micronutrients may not need to be registered if the purpose of the fertilizer is to supply N, P and K with only trace amounts of micronutrients.

Fertilizer-pesticide combination products require registration and must demonstrate that the product is in compliance with the Compendium of Fertilizer Use Pesticides. The pesticide component must also be registered under The Pest Control Products Act (under the jurisdiction of Health Canada).

Supplements are those products which are intended to improve the physical condition of the soil and/or to aid in plant growth or improve crop yields. Products represented for use in improving the physical ( e.g. organic matter) and chemical ( e.g. liming materials) condition of the soil are not subject to registration, but are regulated. However, there are other forms of supplement products, such as; microbial products ( e.g. inoculants and pre-inoculated seed), synthetic substances and plant growth regulators ( e.g. hormones) which are required to be registered under The Fertilizers Act.

Product Labelling

For those products that are required to be registered, they must also display the registration number on the product label, in the form of:

Registration Number YYYYNNNX Fertilizers Act


YYYY= year (e.g. 2006) (products registered prior to 2000 only have 2 digits here)

NNN = numerical value assigned to product according to the number of products registered in that year (012 value would indicate that it was the 12th product registered in that year) (products registered prior to 2000 have 4 digits here)

X = letter value assigned based on product type (A = supplement, B = micronutrient, C = fertilizer-pesticide)

( e.g. Registration Number 2006012A The Fertilizers Act)

The guaranteed analyses for fertilizer/ supplement products indicate the amount of each active ingredient ( e.g. nutrient and/or supplement activity) expressed as a percentage of the total weight of the fertilizer/ supplement product. Some supplement guarantees do not conform to this measure, but still carry guarantees which are based on the weight of the product.

The grade (which forms part of the name) of the fertilizer is reflective of the total nitrogen (N), available phosphoric acid (P 2O 5) and soluble potash (K 2O) and is expressed as %N - %P 2O 5 - %K 2O.

In the case of supplement products, the guarantees are varied, but specific to the product type. For example, a compost will generally carry guarantees for organic matter and moisture content, as well as any applicable nutrient guarantees. On the other hand, an inoculant will carry a guarantee for the active microorganism(s) in the formulation with units of measurement being viable cells per gram of product or viable cells per seed (after inoculation has occurred).

Market Monitoring

The CFIA performs product evaluations and registrations, as well as market monitoring of all fertilizer and supplement products. Sampling of products to ensure compliance is random in nature, with annual targets based on the industry sector found in that region (largely agricultural in Manitoba). The CFIA also relies on the industry and consumers to identify products which may be out of compliance with The Fertilizers Act and Regulations.

Manufacturers and blend producers of major nutrient (N, P and K) fertilizers are part of the Canadian Fertilizer Quality Assurance Program (CFQAP). Fertilizer samples are voluntarily submitted to accredited labs and the CFIA summarizes the results in the annual publication of the Canadian Fertilizer Quality Assurance Report. A customer can request a supplier's CFQAP rating directly from the supplier or from the CFIA.

Additional Information

Additional information can be obtained from the Fertilizer Section, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2 Constellation Cr., Nepean, Ontario K1A 0Y9, or on the website at

For further information, contact your MAFRD GO Representative.