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Nutrient Management (Manure)

Solution: Nutrient Management

Nutrient Management:  Careful management of all aspects of soil fertility to meet crop needs and minimize impacts on water quality.

How it WorksPhoto of farmer applying nitrogen.

A landowner develops a farm nutrient management plan. The plan is based on realistic crop yield goals, soil tests to determine the nutrients available in fields, and taking credit for nutrients from legumes and manure applications. The plan may also identify areas of special concern such as flood plains and steep slopes. Nutrients are applied at the proper time using the appropriate application method. Sound nutrient management reduces fertilizer costs and protects water quality.


  • Crop consultants and local conservation agencies can help you prepare a nutrient management plan.
  • Test soil according to University of Wisconsin guidelines to get an accurate picture of available nutrients.
  • Calculate nutrient credits from manure and the previous year’s legume crops.
  • Make sure the nutrient management plan is consistent with your farm conservation plan, especially crop rotations and practices to prevent runoff and erosion.
  • Weigh and calibrate manure spreaders to determine the amount of manure in a load.


  • Soil test all cropland fields every four years.
  • Keep records of manure applications to calculate manure nutrient availability.
  • Use a preplant or a pre-sidedress soil nitrate test on fields to determine credits for carry-over nitrogen.
  • Stored manure should be tested before application to determine nutrients; “book values” can be used for daily-hauled manure.

Questions?  Ask a Conservationist!