Nutrient Management Plan Writing Tools
Nutrient Management Planning Tools Handbook
What is 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.
A plan contains:
- Soil test results
- Manure and biosolids analyses (where applicable)
- Yield goals
- Estimates of residual nitrogen to generate field-by-field recommendations
- Willow Farm (CSA with beef, hay & pasture and various crops - corn, flowers and vegetables)
- Don Showfelder Farm (Broiler operation, grain farm, horse pasture)
What is Involved in the Plan Writing Process?
The plan writing process involves the following steps:
1. Data Collection
Step 1. Data Collection
Collecting and carefully organizing information (data collection) from the field site along with the producer interview is the first step in developing a nutrient management plan.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the data collection step of nutrient management plan development.
Data Collection Sheets (fillable pdfs)
- Farm Data Collection Sheet (DC-1; 09/2020)
- Field Data Collection Sheet (DC-2; 11/2021)
- Poultry Production and Litter Data Collection Sheet (DC-3; 11/2021)
- Animal Production and Manure Data Collection Sheet (DC-4; 11/2021)
- Guidance: Annotated data collection sheets (11/2021)
Data Collection Calculation Worksheets (excel file)
- Fertilizer already applied (use when some nutrients have been applied prior to plan development, posted 04/2018)
Finding Tax Account ID Numbers
- Using Maryland's Real Property Search (SDAT) (04/2017)
- Finding Tax Account ID Numbers via Finder Online (4/2022)
Maryland Department of Agriculture's 4-Digit Watershed Codes
- Watershed Maps (PDF version)
- Watershed Maps (Interactive map) - use your mouse to zoom into the farm's location, then click on the map to identify the 4-digit watershed code
- Video guidance: How to Access and Use Web Soil Survey to Determine Dominant Soil Map Units and Related Soil Information
- "Mapping: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" (Source: Nutrient Management News, MDA, Fall 2001)
- Using Google Earth Pro for Maps (if no P-Risk Assessment is needed; 05/2017)
- Creating Maps with Google Earth: Follow-along video guidance (04/2021)
- Links mentioned in video:
- QGIS (Click on the QGIS tab on the linked software page to find downloads and guidance on using QGIS to make professional maps)
2. Soil Sampling and Testing
Step 2. Soil Sampling and Testing
Representative soil samples, which have been properly collected and analyzed, become the basis for nutrient recommendations.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the soil sampling and testing step of nutrient management plan development.
- Soil Sampling Procedures for Nutrient Management Instruction Card (For Producer Use)
- Soil Sampling Procedures for Nutrient Management Instruction Card (For Advisor Use)
- Fact Sheet: Soil Sampling for Optimizing Agricultural Production in Maryland (November 2021)
- Comparison of Soil Test Labs
- Examples of Soil Test Reports
- SFM-3 "Descriptions of the Soil Test Interpretive Categories Used by the University of Maryland Soil Testing Laboratory"
- SFM-4 "Interconverting Among Soil Test Analyses Frequently Used in Maryland"
- Obtaining Electronic Copies of Soil Test Results for Importing Into NuMan Pro (Updated 7-15)
- Soil Test Levels (FIVs), Soil Test Category and Yield Response
- Problematic Results and Flawed Analyses
3. Manure (and Other Organic Source) Sampling and Testing
Step 3. Manure (and Other Organic Source) Sampling and Testing (if applicable)
Obtaining a representative organic sample is the basis for developing reliable recommendations for manures and other organic sources.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the manure sampling and testing step of nutrient management plan development.
- NM-6 "Sampling Manure for Nutrient Content"
- Manure Testing Lab Comparison (7-30-2020)
- 2022 Manure Summary Report
- Average Nutrient Content of Manure from Unusual Livestock Types
- Problematic Results and Flawed Analyses
- Weighted Average of Multiple Manure Nutrient Composition and Mineralization Rate (6/2/2020)
- Is a lab analysis required for my organic nutrient source? (11/2019 Update)
- Conversions and Calculating Plant Available Nitrogen (PAN)
- 2022 Sewage Sludge Plant Available Nitrogen (PAN) Rates Table (Maryland Department of the Environment)
- Incorporating PFRP (Class A) Sludges Into Nutrient Management Plans
- PFRP Biosolids Labels
- NEFCO Cumberland Dried Biosolids Pellets
- Watershed Resource Center PHOS-FIX and EcoGro
- Elkton Biogood Slow Release Soil Amendment
- Easton Utilities Biosolids Product
- Bloom Blue Plains Class A
- Synagro Hagerstown Product
- Little Patuxent RDPA Fertilizer Product
- Philadelphia Granulite
- Ocean City ShoreGro
4. Manure/Organic Quantity Estimation and Utilization
Step 4. Manure (and Other Organic Source) Quantity Estimation and Utilization
- Manure Quantity Estimation Sheets (Microsoft Excel spreadsheets)
- Solid Manure
- Solid and Liquid Manure
- Solid Manure For Very Small Animal Operations
- Poultry Litter Quantity Estimation - Multi-year version (For integrated poultry production)
- Pastured Poultry Litter Quantity Estimation (For integrated poultry production-July 2020 Update)
- Information for manure estimations
- Manure Utilization/Allocation Sheets (Microsoft Excel spreadsheets)
- Short Form (6/7/19 Update)
- Long Form (5/23/19 Update)
- Using Manure on Operator's Home Garden (3-31-22)
5. Tissue Sampling and Testing
Step 5. Tissue Sampling and Testing (if applicable)
Tissue analyses are the bases for nutrient recommendations for fruit nutrient management plans.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the tissue sampling and testing step of nutrient management plan development.
- Sample collection and preparation for perennial fruit crops
- Comparison of Some Labs Testing Plant Tissue
- Field Information Sheet for Perennial Fruit Crops
- Fertilizer Recommendations for Bearing Perennial Fruit Crops
- Fertilizer Recommendations for Non-Bearing Perennial Fruit Crops
- Tissue Sampling for Vineyards
- "Wine Grape Production Guide for Eastern North America" (Appendix 1: recommendations)
- NM-5 "Nutrient Management for Tree Fruits and Small Fruits"
- NM-5 Appendices (Word version)
- N Recommendations for Unusual Fruits and Nuts in the Bearing Stage (if no tissue analysis is available)
6. University of MD Phosphorus Management Tool (UM-PMT)
Step 6. Calculating the Phosphorus Management Tool (if fields have an FIV-P greater than or equal to 150)
The Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) is a field-by-field tool designed to identify critical areas where there is a high phosphorus loss potential and a large source of phosphorus present in the soil. The UM-PMT replaces the PSI.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the UM-PMT step of nutrient management plan development.
- Information needed for using P Risk Tools
- Equivalent Phosphorus Risk Assessment Threshold Levels
- Instructions for Accessing and Using the Web Soil Survey to Determine Dominant Map Units and Related Soil Information (Aug. 2015)
- Measuring and Documenting Distance to Water Using Google Earth
- Slope and Distance to Water Template (updated 2/4/2020)
- NM-3 "Phosphorus Removal by Crops in the Mid-Atlantic States"
- UM-PMT Data Collection Sheet (updated 8/2020)
- Tier Group Assignment and Implementation (January 2020 Update for Clarity)
- Phosphorus Site Index (PSI): All related information has been moved to the archive
- Phosphorus Management Tool
- Maryland's Manure Transport and Matching Service
7. Generating Recommendations
Step 7. Generating Recommendations
Nutrient recommendations based upon representative soil samples, yield goal information, and research are the core of a nutrient management plan.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the generating recommendations step of nutrient management plan development.
- Information for Determining Recommendations:
- Finding Yield Goals in Web Soil Survey
- Yield Goals for vegetables and fruits (from external sources)
- SFM-5 "Soil pH and Determining Liming Rates"
- SFM-1 "Agronomic Crop Nutrient Recommendations Based on Soil Tests and Yield Goals"
- How to Develop Recommendations Using Saturated Media Extract Results (11-2020 update)
- Fertilizer Recommendations:
- Manure and other Organic Material Recommendations:
- Conversions and Calculating PAN
- Estimating Plant Available Nitrogen (PAN) in Manure
- ANMP Info Card
- Multi-calculation worksheet (Calculates N credits, net N recommendations, N-based manure application rate, additional fertilizer requirements when using manure)
- Recommendations Using Organic Nutrient Sources Worksheet
- Manure Utilization/Allocation/Generation Worksheets from the "Manure (and Other Organic Source) Sampling and Testing" section above should be included, if applicable.
- Plan Components and Requirements for Fall and Winter Manure Applications
- Conversions and Calculating PAN
8. Compiling and Reviewing Your Nutrient Management Plan
Step 8. Compiling and Reviewing Your Nutrient Management Plan
It is important that a nutrient management plan be well-organized and contain all the necessary components as required by Maryland Nutrient Management Regulations. Using a checklist can help ensure that all necessary components are included in the plan.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the compiling and reviewing step of nutrient management plan development.
- Cover Sheets
- Regular Land Plan Cover Sheet (August 2021 Update)
- Regular No-Land Plan Cover Sheet (August 2021 Update)
- Supplementary Cover Sheet Sections
- CAFO (with land) Cover Sheet (August 2021 Update)
- CAFO (no land) Cover Sheet (August 2021 Update)
- Plan Review Quality Assurance for Nutrient Management Advisors
- Nutrient Application Setbacks from Surface Water (5-19-15)
- Maryland Setback Standards and Approved Alternatives Consistent with CAFO/MAFO Requirements
9. Relevant MDA Documents for Complete Plans
Step 9. Submitting Plan Components
Parts of a completed nutrient management plan must be submitted to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). In addition, operators must follow their nutrient management plan (or document reasons for not following it) and file an annual report on their implementation of the plan.
The following form will assist you with the submitting plan components step of nutrient management plan development:
- Nutrient Management Plan Reporting Form (New Plans)
Documentation of a Current Nutrient Management Plan:
Effective January 2018, individuals applying for MACS cost-share programs will be required to provide the following form to verify that they possess a current nutrient management plan.
- Current Nutrient Management Plan Certification for Cost Share (Effective December 2019 and Updated on this site 1/23/20; Be sure to use this version)
10. Record Keeping
Step 10. Record Keeping
Record keeping is good practice for agricultural operations. For nutrient management, crop yield records, by field, support yield goals used to develop nutrient recommendations. In addition, records of equipment calibration and organic applications confirm proper application rates and that nitrogen credits are assigned to the appropriate fields.
The following worksheets and information sheets will assist you with the record keeping step of nutrient management plan development.
- Agricultural Operation Record Keeping Requirements
- Field-by-field Nutrient Application Record Form
- Field-by-field Nutrient Application Record Form Definitions
- Forage Yield Calculation Sheet
- Grain Yield Calculation Sheet
- Poultry Litter Removal Data Collection Sheet
- Other Manure Removal Data Collection Sheet (11-2020)
- Fertilizer conversion sheet (Excel spreadsheet that converts from Lbs./gallons of material to pounds N - P2O5 - K2O)
The Agricultural Nutrient Management Program also has a "Field Management Records" pocket-sized notebook that can help make crop, pesticide, and nutrient management record keeping easier. Please call the Program's office at (301) 405-1318 for information on how to receive your free copy.
11. Following Up
Step 11. Following Up
After delivery of the nutrient management plan, there are many things a nutrient management advisor can do to follow up with the producer including calibrating manure spreaders, conducting a Pre-Sidedress Soil Nitrate Test (PSNT) and/or a Corn Stalk Nitrate Test (CSNT), and estimating corn silage and corn grain yield.
The following information sheets will assist you with the following up step of nutrient management plan development.
- SFG EC-1 "Calibration of Manure Spreaders: Uniformity, Spread Patterns and Effective Swath Width"
- SFG EC-2 "Calibration of a Manure Spreader Using the Weight-area Method"
- SFG EC-3 "Calibration of a Liquid Manure Spreader Using the Load-area Method"
- SFG EC-4 "Calibration of a Manure Spreader Using the Load-area Method (with Drive-on Scales)"
- SFG EC-5 "Calibration of a Manure Spreader Using the Load-area Method (with Estimation of Density and Load Weight)"
- NM-8 "Corn Stalk Nitrate Test" (revised June 2016)
- SFM-2 "Making Decisions for Nitrogen Fertilization of Corn Using the Pre-Sidedress Soil Nitrate Test (PSNT)" (revised April 2010)
- SFM-2 Flowchart and Table
- Soil Nitrate Testing with a NitraChek Meter Guide
- NM-1 "Estimating Corn Silage Yield"
- NM-4 "Estimating Corn Grain Yield"