GROWSAFE Registered Chemical Applicator

Who should have this certificate?

This certificate is for ground sprayers who spray for hire or reward. If you specialise in the application of agrichemicals - horticulture, agriculture, forestry or any other industry - then you should consider becoming an Registered Chemical Applicator (RCA). It is the highest standard/qualification that a ground applicator can hold.

Benefits of the certificate

Holders of the RCA certificate are able to:
  • implement and monitor spray plans
  • provide direction to staff applying agrichemicals
  • make day-to-day decisions in relation to agrichemical application
  • apply agrichemicals in a safe, responsible and effective way with minimal adverse impact on human, environmental and animal health
  • meet obligations under the Hazardous Substance and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO), the Health and Safety at Work Act 2016 and associated regulations, the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997 (ACVM Act); including the requirements of your local regional plan.
Many regional plans specify that contractors hold a GROWSAFE RCA certificate or equivalent training. In many cases, contracts for spraying will specify that the on-site supervisor is a GROWSAFE Registered Chemical Applicator.

From 1 December 2017, it will be a national requirement that all contractors using motorised equipment to spray highly ecotoxic substances (class 9.1A, 9.2A, 9.3A or 9.4A) are RCA certified or similar.

Certification requirements

To achieve RCA certification you need:
  • National Certificate in Agrichemical Application
  • Certified Handler Test Certificate (if required)
  • Evidence of 200 hours of practical spraying experience
  • GROWSAFE Standard certificate (or Introductory if completed prior to 1 January 2018).

Expiry of certificate and renewal

A GROWSAFE RCA Certificate is valid for 5 years, at which time it can be renewed. This is because laws, technology and best practice are constantly changing. While you can read and hear about these changes yourself, your customers and the regulators require evidence that you are up-to-date.

From 2013, there have been changes to the way renewal is undertaken. It now involves an on-site audit by an independent third party auditor using a checklist prepared by GROWSAFE. As part of the audit, you will need to demonstrate that you have undertaken a review of your own operations and have undertaken some professional development such as attendance at an industry seminar or workshop. Renewal of your certificate must be done within 6 months of expiry of your certificate. It usually takes place in June/July each year. Your Certified Handler can be renewed at the same time (if required). AsureQuality has been contracted by GROWSAFE to undertake audits for RCA renewal.

GROWSAFE will contact you when your RCA is due for renewal - please ensure your contact details are up-to-date. Email us on if you have not heard from us and wish to initiate an audit. Or complete our renewal application form and send to us.

Getting started on RCA training

To get started on your RCA, you need to begin study towards your NC in Agrichemical Application. This study will take up to 12-18 months depending on your current level of knowledge and skills. There are currently two providers of the NC in Agrichemical Application You should ring the provider(s) to discuss course cost and how the course is delivered and what the options are in terms of recognising current competency.

Applying for your RCA certification

When you have completed your NC in Agrichemical Application, you can apply to GROWSAFE for your RCA certificate by completing an application form and providing evidence of your qualifications and spraying experience. Full details of the process . Once your certificate is issued, your name will be added to the GROWSAFE register and made publicly available on our website.