University of Maryland Extension

Nutrient Management Planning for Spring 2015

Start planning now! The following checklist is designed to help organize the information needed.

  • Soil samples: Soil sample analyses are good for three years. Check to see if all soil analyses are up to date. Fields high in phosphorus need an additional test called a DPS.
  • Manure samples: Manure samples are needed each year for each type of manure.
  • Manure quantities: This is based on animal type, the amount of time animals are in an area where manure is collected, and bedding. Check to make sure the plan accurately reflects current management.
  • Bedding: The type of bedding and quantities used in a year must be documented.
  • Animals: Are animal types and numbers correct?
  • Crop Rotations: What crops will be planted in each field? If you have not decided, give additional possibilities and recommendations for all crops will be given for them. 
  • Yields: Check the yields in the plan with harvest records to determine if the yields should be changed. 
  • Properties: NMP’s should be inclusive. Does this plan reflect the entire operation? Maps must include all rented land. 
  • Maps showing distance to water: Do you have surface water on your property? If so, contact the Soil Conservation District and request maps indicating setbacks for crop fields and pastures with surface water within or adjacent to them. The District can calculate acreage in the setback area.
  • Maps from NRCS FSA showing HEL lands: NRCS FSA maps are required to document the HEL (Highly Erodible Lands) as an exclusion to the required to till in manure within 48 hours.
  • Nutrient applicator license: Anyone who applies manure must have a current nutrient applicator license. Check the date on your license.

When should you review these items? Ideal timelines vary based on the operation, and specific needs but the following is a good rule of thumb. The bottom line is that you need your Nutrient Management Plan in hand prior to applying any fertilizer or manure, and the plan should be kept current.

  • Fall: Collect any needed soil and manure samples. This is suggested to avoid problems with trying to get soil samples from frozen ground. Last winter demonstrated that it is impossible to get a good liquid manure sample from a frozen lagoon.
  • By Thanksgiving: Organize all plan information outlined above.
  • Late fall or early winter: Contact your Nutrient Management Advisor to develop a plan. Note that fall/winter plan development allows the planner time to gather any additional information needed. 
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