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 is 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.

Renewal 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. The NC in Agrichemical Application is delivered by Connexis ITO (0800 486 626).  On enrolment Connexis will provide you with a folder of resources and assessments for you to work your way through.  If you would like to get some additional hands-on training then many Growsafe trainers  (such as Murray Beare, Shane Harris, Dean Bowden) will be able to help you out on either on an individual basis or potentially put together a group to go through the material. 

There is a new NCAA coming into effect in early 2020.  If you are starting your NCAA now, you should focus on unit standards that are in both the old and the new qualification so that you can transfer to the new programme if you do not finish by the end of the year.  There is also a RCC (Recognition of Current Competency) option to be developed which may be useful if you have been spraying for some time and believe you are competent.

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.