The University of Maryland’s Agricultural Nutrient Management Program, which is funded by the MD Department of Agriculture, provides nutrient management plan development for Maryland farmers through nutrient management advisors located in all 23 county Extension offices.  

NM Job Posting
  • Nutrient Management Plan development for farmers.

  • Soil analysis for the Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) and Fall Soil Nitrate Tests (FSNT)

  • Instruction and assistance with manure spreader calibrations and yield goal checks

In 1998, the Water Quality Improvement Act (WQIA) was enacted and many changes were brought about which affected Maryland’s agricultural community. Most notable among the changes are the requirement for farmers to obtain and implement a nutrient management plan if they meet either of the following criteria for their agricultural operation:

  1. Eight or more animal units (8,000 pounds of live animal weight) or
  2. $2,500 gross annual income from the agricultural operation

Soil & Manure Samples

Soil samples should be air-dried and label with the clients' name and field reference number on each bag.  Refer to Soil Sampling Procedures for Nutrient Management guide, for additional information regarding collecting the samples.  Clients can obtain soil sample bags and manure sample bottles from our office. Contact Brian Sweeney, nutrient management advisor at 301-791-1304 for additional information.

Manure, Soil & Growing Media Lab Comparison Sheets

Writing A Nutrient Management Plan

A nutrient management plan is a formal document that balances crop nutrient needs with nutrients that are applied in the form of commercial fertilizer, animal manure, or biosolids.

Annual Implementation Reports (AIRs)

Annual Implementation Reports (AIRs) documenting nutrient applications for the calendar year 2020 are due to the Nutrient Management Program by March 1, 2021

New this year, farmers have the option to file their AIRs electronically using the Maryland OneStop portal. The e-filing option will be ​​available beginning January 11, 2021.

Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT)

The Pre-sidedress Soil Nitrate Test (PSNT) is a widely used test for optimizing nitrogen fertilizer use for corn grain and corn silage. It is a soil test that measures the amount of nitrate nitrogen available in the soil at the time when the crop is most likely to start using it. This nitrogen is a by-product of the mineralization of manure and/or last year's forage legume crop, and its availability is influenced by soil temperature and moisture.

The PSNT should be run when corn is between 6 and 12 inches tall. This is the time period when corn is getting ready for a rapid growth spurt and will require nitrogen to fuel this growth. If the PSNT shows enough nitrogen is present in the soil, it may be beneficial to forego the application, thus saving time and money. If the test shows nitrogen is low, it may be beneficial to consider sidedressing additional nitrogen to avoid any potential compromise in yield.

PSNT is applicable on fields where:

  • Corn for silage or grain is being grown
  • Manure or biosolids have been applied this year or in the past two (2) years
  • A forage legume was grown last year
  • Less than 50 pounds of commercial fertilizer nitrogen per acre were applied prior to sidedress

Fall Soil Nitrate Tests (FSNT)

The Fall Soil Nitrate Test (FSNT) is a test that measures the concentration of nitrate in the soil as an indicator of whether a fall nitrogen application is needed at the time of planting wheat and barley.

Recent research has demonstrated that winter wheat and barley grain yields and economic return to fertilizer applications are not reliably improved by a fall nitrogen application when an adequate amount of nitrate already exists in the soil.

Regulations effective October 2012 require that farmers who plant wheat and barley for grain production must test for soil nitrate concentration before they may apply nitrogen in fall.

Please refer to the FSNT publication to obtain further information.

Manure Spreader Calibrations

Calibration is a way of checking and/or making adjustments to manure application equipment to ensure that a nutrient source is being applied uniformly and at the desired rate. It is important to properly calibrate manure application equipment to minimize the potential for over or under applying nutrients to a crop.

There are two methods for calibrating manure application equipment:

  • Weight-area method - This method, which is appropriate when dealing with heavier solid manure, involves spreading manure on a collection surface of known dimensions, weighing the manure on the collection surface, and calculating the application rate. The application rate is then converted to a per-acre basis. 
  • Load-area method - This method, which is appropriate for liquid and solid manures and poultry litter, involves spreading several loads of manure on the field, measuring the area, and then calculating the manure application rate for that area. The application rate is then converted to a per-acre basis. 

University of MD Nutrient Management Resources

These are resources from the University of Maryland which are not specific to a county.