University of Maryland Extension

Nutrient Management

In 1989, the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative Extension Service developed the Nutrient Management program. The purpose of the program is to reduce nutrient loadings, chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus, that pose a threat to the Chesapeake Bay. The efforts are aimed at educating and helping farmers manage crop nutrients more efficiently.  The Pre-Sidedress Nitrogen Test (PSNT) is a management tool that was developed to help farmers determine if additional nitrogen is needed for their corn crops.  It was designed for the purpose of testing fields that has had a history of receiving organic nutrients or was previously planted in a legume crop.

For more information on the Frederick County Nutrient Management Program or to schedule a PSNT, contact Kaitlyn Fuss at 301-600-3571 or email


Soil Health Grant Available to Farmers

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the Farming for Healthy Soil Program. This three-year program begins this fall and provides financial assistance to farmers for implementing soil health practices on their farm. All livestock and crop (including grain, forage, fruit, and vegetables) farms are eligible for this program. Approved soil health practices include conservation tillage/residue management, multi-species cover crop mixtures, extended season cover crops, prescribed grazing, and precision nutrient management. Practices must be new to the farm; for example, adopting a practice never used on site before or changing from a one species cover crop to a two species cover crop.  For more information go to the Farming for Healthy Soil news page.


Soil Sampling

The Frederick County Extension Office has soil probes, and a forage (hay) probe that you may borrow to take your samples that you will send to a lab for analysis. Since our office is currently closed to the public we have a new procedure for borrowing a probe.

1. Please download and fill out the Probe Sign-Out fillable form and email it to us to request an appointment to borrow a probe.

Soil Probe - Kaitlyn Fuss   301-600-3571
Forage Probe - Lisa Strong   301-600-3576

2. We will contact you and schedule your appointment to pick up the probe; we will meet you outside to exchange your $100.00 deposit (cash or check) for the use of the probe.  Probes are to be returned within a two-week time frame.  Pick up times will be Monday-Friday 8:00 am- 4:30 pm on days when someone is physically in the office.
3. Please contact our office to confirm when you will return the probe so we can exchange the probe for your deposit and have you sign that you received your returned deposit.  Drop off times will be Monday-Friday 8:00 am- 4:30 pm on days when someone is physically in the office.

Lab information:
Soil Samples for a farm, see publications: Soil Sampling Procedures for Nutrient Managment - For Producer Use, and Soil Test Lab Comparison
Forage Samples - List of Certified Labs - Click on the NFTA Certified Laboratories link.
More forage sampling information on our FAQ web page.


Here are some quick FAQs regarding nutrient vouchers and certified farm operators (CFOs).

Q: How do I know if my nutrient voucher is still valid?
A: Each voucher holder should have a card with an expiration date on it, and MDA will also send out expiration notices in the mail.

Q: Can I look up if my nutrient voucher is still valid?
A: There is no online way to look them up, however voucher holders may contact MDA's regional offices or headquarters directly to look up that information (or email

Q: Where is the list of voucher training courses?
A: Right here:

Q: What should a farmer do when attending nutrient voucher training to ensure his/her voucher is updated?
A: The host of the meeting will have sign-in sheets, make sure you sign in (this includes winter meetings for which voucher certification is offered).

Q: What is a certified farm operator (CFO)?
A: A CFO is a farmer who is certified to write their own nutrient management plan for their operation.

Q: I want to write my own plan, how do I become a CFO?
A: Sign up for a class!

Q: How many nutrient management CEUs do I need to keep my CFO certification valid?
A: You will need 2 credits within the first year, and 6 credits every 3 years thereafter.

Q: How do I know when my CFO certification needs to be renewed?
A: Each CFO should have a card with an expiration date on it, and MDA will also send out renewal notices in the mail.

Q: What do I do when I receive a renewal notice?
A: You will need to report qualifying CEUs that you received over the past 1 year/3 years and send the notice back to MDA. If you are unsure of when you received CEUs, you can contact MDA's regional offices or headquarters to find out. Good recordkeeping is your best bet.

Q: I am a CFO, but I could use some assistance updating my nutrient management plan. Is help available?
A: There sure is. Sign up for a plan update workshop!

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