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 - amenity, conservation, 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.

Our decision tree for contractors will help you identify whether RCA is the appropriate Growsafe certificate for you and your staff.

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.

New RCAs

To achieve RCA certification you need:
  • National Certificate in Agrichemical Application or New Zealand Certificate in Agrichemical Application (from mid 2020)
  • Certified Handler Test Certificate (only required if using class 6.1A or B products)
  • Evidence of 200 hours of practical spraying experience
  • Growsafe Standard certificate (or Introductory if completed prior to 1 January 2018).
Getting started on RCA training

To get started on your RCA, you need to begin study towards your New Zealand Certificate in Agrichemical Application. This study will take up to 12 months depending on your current level of knowledge and skills. The NZC in Agrichemical Application will be delivered by Connexis ITO (0800 486 626 or contact your local account manager ) and PrimaryITO (0800 20 80 20).  On enrolment, Connexis or PrimaryITO 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.  The new NZCAA will be available in mid 2020.  If you are starting your study 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.  

Are you an experienced spray contractor seeking RCA?

An RCC (Recognition of Current Competency) option is being developed for the new NZCAA which may be useful if you have been spraying for some time and believe you are competent to the required level.  Instead of being required to complete individual assessments for each of the unit standards, this will involve putting together a portfolio of evidence for the Connexis or PrimaryITO assessor.  You may still need to do some training to fill in some gaps in knowledge.  This option may be suitable for contractors working in the horticulture sector who have previously not completed the NCAA due to the absence of an airblast strand.  The new NZCAA has a strand for Tree and Vine application.

Applying for your RCA certification

When you have completed your NZC 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.

Renewal of RCAs

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

RCA renewal only
Renewal involves two elements:
  • 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
  • evidence of professional development during the previous five years. The expectation is that you have engaged in at least three events such as industry seminar or workshops, totalling approximately 8-9 hours.

Renewal of your certificate must be done within 6 months of expiry of your certificate. It usually takes place in June/July each year. AsureQuality has been contracted by Growsafe to undertake audits for RCA renewal.

RCA renewal and Certified Handler certificate

If you use class 6.1A or B products (eg Paraquat, Meteor, Gramoxone), you need to have a Certified Handler certificate as well as an RCA. Both of these certificates require a site visit to check your agrichemical operation.  We recommend that you align the renewal dates of these two certificates so that you can be checked for both certificates at a single site visit.  A Compliance Certifier registered with WorkSafe is required to issue the Certified Handler certificate.  Growsafe has endorsed a number of Compliance Certifiers to undertake the RCA site visits using an approved checklist.  Only these Growsafe-endorsed Compliance Certifiers are able to approve both the RCA renewal and the Certified Handler certificate.  Note that the requirement for evidence of professional development is also required for the RCA renewal.

Growsafe-endorsed Compliance Certifiers
Dean Bowden sprayschool@xtra.co.nz Wellington based but travels nationally on a regular basis

Transfer from Rural Contractors
If you currently hold an RCA issued by Rural Contractors then you will transfer to a Growsafe RCA on renewal. You will need to meet the requirements for renewal as set out in the Growsafe scheme ie a site visit and professional development. If you hold an Approved Handler certificate which expires before your RCA and you need to obtain a Certified Handler certificate, then as set out above, we recommend you align the renewal dates and renew both certificates whenever the first of them expires.