University of Maryland Extension

What is a Nutrient Management Plan?

What is Nutrient Management planning and what are some of the benefits of Nutrient Management to the farmer?
The key principle behind Nutrient Management planning is to balance soil nutrient inputs with crop requirements.


  • Maintenance of optimum conditions for crop growth
  • Protection of local and regional water resources
  • Enhancement of farm profitability
  • Both farm profitability and water quality can be improved through efficient nutrient use.

The Nutrient Management Program offers the farming community:

  • Advice on field nutrient planning Provides University of Maryland fertilizer recommendations
  • Help on soil and manure sampling
  • Calibration of spreading equipment
  • Manure and fertilizer application
  • Advice on where additional technical support can be obtained.

Why is Nutrient Management Necessary?

  • To reduce contamination to our waterways by plant nutrients chiefly nitrate nitrogen and phosphorus
  • Reduce nitrate nitrogen levels that are sometimes elevated in ground water

Why is it so important to reduce pollution by nutrients?

Nutrients from agricultural land can:

  • Contaminate well and drinking water resources for both people and livestock
  • Upset the balance of life in our waterways, which results in the death of aquatic plants and animals
  • Have negative economic consequences on citizens who depend upon water resources for their livelihood

What does a Nutrient Management Plan involve?

  • Soil and manure sampling
  • Assessment of the nutrient contributions made by leguminous crops (leguminous are crops such as alfalfa hay, clover hay, lespedeza hay, soybeans and after study we know these crops leave nitrogen behind that is available the next year)
  • Discussing and assessing past management practices
  • Determining preferred application techniques and timing of any nutrient bearing materials (fertilizers, manure, poultry litter, biosolids and organic)
  • Setting realistic yield goals

How do farmers get help with developing a Nutrient Management Plan?

  • A Certified Nutrient Management Consultant can develop a Nutrient Management Plan for the farmers.
  • Some farmers have been trained and have become certified through the Maryland Department of Agriculture Nutrient Management Program to write Nutrient Management Plans for their own farming operation. Nutrient Management Consultants work in both the Private and public sector. (Public sector through University of Maryland¬†Extension)

For more information, contact Francis Warring

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