Dóri joined Certrust with a solid background in the cosmetics industry. She now puts her previous knowledge to use while learning Spanish with us. An engineer and auditor, Dóri is becoming increasingly adept at managing human relationships with our partners. She is also an excellent judge of a company’s true potential: connected to the international bloodstream, she enjoys meeting other cultures and learning languages in addition to her job.
R: What does the term “fertilizer” mean? Is it accurate to call it a production enhancer?
The word itself means fertilizer, but it’s much more than just organic and inorganic fertilizer: it’s used to refer to crop enhancers. These include biostimulant products among others, a defining trend in the industry these days. These are the two main fields attracting the most orders, but soil conditioners and inhibitors can also be classified as soil improvers. Among others, biostimulants refer to products or substances that help farmers use less manure. The right combination of soil improvers and the right way of using them can prevent soil from deteriorating.
R: How did crop enhancers become a priority for Certrust?
We started receiving a lot of orders for crop enhancers. We were the first NoBo (Notified Body) in the EU to be designated for this field, and for some time, we were also the only organization in the EU that manufacturers could turn to if they wanted to get CE marking for their crop protection products. Recently, there has been a change in the rules, and the first designated body for this new certification procedure was Certrust.
Now, a new regulation called FPR (Fertilizing Product Regulation) is under effect, but up to this day, there is also regulation at the national level. Do you find the new regulation stricter or more permissive?
The two are not quite comparable. The criteria are different, but it’s not too obvious which one is easier for a given product to meet. It may depend on the individual strategy of the manufacturer. Many will obtain the CE marking because Member States would reject them under their own rules, thus the CE marking makes it easier for them to enter other markets. For example, if a company aims to market its products in 10 Member States, it would need to gain approval from 10 national authorities. It may be easier to obtain the CE marking, which is then accepted across all EU Member States.
Another argument for an EU conformity assessment process is that NoBo’s on the market generally work with shorter deadlines, while official procedures can take longer. On the other hand, the new regulation may also be stricter than national regulations on certain points.
R: What are the main differences in the new regulation?
For instance, pollutant levels have not been taken so seriously in most Member States so far, but the FPR now prescribes precise levels of these, as well as efficacy tests for biostimulants. Many biostimulants will have to be re-tested under the current requirements.
R: Do sustainability and environmental protection play more of a role among these?
That’s what we are trying to achieve. There are now product categories from reused waste allowed to be certified. Requirements can be so strict for most of these that fewer manufacturers go for CE marking, but the aim is to bring these categories into the loop.
R: How do agricultural drones and pesticides come up in the regulation?
As far as drones are concerned, the FPR does not address the uses of the products. It is only concerned with getting safe products on the market. The technique with which a farmer puts them into the soil (for example, by spraying them from a drone) is not covered by the FPR. By the way, CerTrust is also a Notified Body for drones. A different regulation applies to pesticides, although there is a slight overlap between the two: certain pesticides contain active ingredients also used in crop protection products, partly as preservatives, but as soon as a product displays a pesticidal effect, it will fall under the pesticides regulation.
R: Do you participate in environmental testing? If so, where do these take place?
The different tests are carried out depending on the module in which the manufacturer classifies the product. The FPR allows four types of procedures (A,A1,B+C,D1), of which only high nitrogen ammonium nitrate fertilizers fall under module A1. Here, explosiveness and oil retention tests must be carried out, which we manage in our laboratory at Balatonfűzfő.
For Module A, the manufacturer can carry out the complete conformity assessment procedure under his responsibility, without the need to involve a NoBo, including the necessary laboratory tests. This is allowed by the Regulation for the lowest-risk products.
For Module B, the involvement of a NoBo is already mandatory. During the procedure, the technical documentation submitted by the companies is evaluated and samples of the product are requested. This is then sent to HL-Lab in Debrecen, who work with us as a subcontracted partner laboratory and are audited every year. We are expanding the list of our partner laboratories to make it easy for partners to send samples. In Spain, for instance, Fitosoil is a contracted partner laboratory.
For module D1, we also have to visit the manufacturing site to audit the quality management system of the given company. In this case, we mostly accept the manufacturer’s tests, but if certain materials are used, sample testing is our responsibility. D1 is usually required for materials extracted from waste. Others can request such testing, but it is mandatory for companies processing waste.
R: Do you help partners navigate the FPR points?
Yes, we help with interpreting the regulation. If they don’t understand something or have a question, we explain what the requirements in the regulation mean, what their options are, and what the consequences of their actions will be. However, we do not give advice. Decisions must always be taken by the manufacturer who also bears the responsibility.
R: To get to know you a bit: how is your average workday?
There is no average workday. My days are very varied but mostly hectic! I rarely come into the office. I work from home but also travel a lot, mostly abroad when we audit our partners under module D1.
R: Are there typical destinations where you get more orders from?
So far, we have spent most of our time in Spain but have also visited Turkey and Germany last year. Each country is a special experience in its way.
R: Do you get a chance to do “the tourist stuff”?
Unfortunately, rarely. We usually spend 2-3 days out: we fly out on the first day, audit on the second, and then fly back. The audit itself is very mentally demanding. English communication on crucial professional issues can be very tiring. But even then, we can perceive some cultural differences, which is always a fascinating experience. Since we are a reliable company, we usually find that partners always return to Certrust.
R: How did you get into this field?
Quite by accident. At the time of my application, I just felt like I can learn anything. I hadn’t been involved in the agricultural field before, I worked in cosmetics. After university, I joined a cosmetics manufacturing company as a career starter and stayed with them until last year. I was involved in product development and quality management and also supervised the work of our quality control laboratory.
I started at Certrust on the 1st of April last year. Since then, I have been learning continuously and gained a broad knowledge of the growing media, certification process, and regulations. There have been 6 amendments to the FPR in a year. Due to our many closely related side branches, there is plenty of opportunity to expand theoretical knowledge.
R: To what extent do you benefit from previous experience?
A lot of the raw materials are used in both cosmetics and crop enhancers. One example is the algae extract trendy in both industries these days. At Certrust I sometimes meet partners associated with my previous job: I see some of them applying to D1 with a cosmetology practice document. There is an overlap between the two areas, but they are quite different in terms of products and regulation.
R: Do you feel like teamwork is crucial at Certrust?
We work independently since a dedicated expert is responsible for a project, but we regularly “consult each other”. This came to mind because I’m watching Dr. House at the moment. We discuss our cases, and whether a colleague has done something similar. Often the other person has experience. There are so many orders that one person alone would not be able to cope with them, so we often ask each other for help.
R: What is your biggest professional challenge?
There are only positive professional challenges for me. I am very pleased that I switched to Certrust, it was a good decision. I used to leave at 6 am to drop my little boy off at the daycare and get to work by 7 am. Certrust has flexible hours, now I can manage my time more comfortably. I wouldn’t have applied without a home office option! And although I don’t like to commute because of the distance and the traffic, I love to be around my colleagues.
The bonus of the audit is being able to travel and practice languages. I can speak and correspond in English: it is improving, and I try to make sure I use it as correctly as possible. In the meantime, I am also learning Spanish with the support of Certrust. We have numerous partners from Spain as there are many fertilizer producers in this area. I also give occasional presentations at conferences, and although I still get a bit nervous, one learns to manage stage fright over time.
You can find out more about our fertiliser services here.