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Nutrient Management

What is Nutrient Management?

Nutrient Management is the science or practice of providing appropriate soil fertility sources to fields for crop and forage production. It consists of managing the amount, source, placement (method of application), and timing of plant nutrients and soil amendments. The NRCS Conservation Practice Nutrient Management (code 590) details NRCS requirements for nutrient management planning in Maine.

Nutrient Management is based upon Soils Testing. Soils Test results indicate the current fertility state of a given field. University recommendations based upon these results tell a producer approximately how much of each of the major plant nutrients are needed for optimum plant production. An appropriate Nutrient Management Plan allows a crop producer to budget and supply nutrients for plant production more efficiently. A big benefit of a Nutrient Management Plan is that it can help to minimize agricultural nonpoint source pollution of surface and ground water resources.

For more information on soils Testing and Manure or Compost Analysis in Maine, see: University of Maine Analytical Lab:

What is a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP)?

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) are conservation plans that are unique to animal feeding operations (AFOs). These plans document the practices and management activities that will be adopted by the land owner or operator to address the natural resource concerns related to soil erosion, water quality, utilization of manure and waste water, and disposal of organic by-products. CNMPs may be written by NRCS or by a Technical Service Provider (TSP) certified by NRCS.

The development of a CNMP begins with a comprehensive resource inventory of the current site conditions and management needs. During the planning process the planner(s) and producer work together to develop and consider different alternatives to address the identified resource concerns. Structures such as Waste Storage Facility, Composting Facility, Heavy Use area Protection, and Vegetated Treatment Area may be part of the plan to address farmstead production area concerns. A nutrient management plan based upon soils tests and manure analysis is developed for all farm fields. Together, the nutrient management plan and the chosen structural and/or management practices are included in the CNMP. Some or all of these items may be eligible for financial assistance through the EQIP program.

A typical CNMP will include:

  • A farm description with resource assessment, needs, and farm goals
  • Erosion assessment for fields, and chosen management options to address erosion
  • A record of decision of planned practices
  • Soils maps and Conservation Plan maps showing manure spreading setbacks and sensitive areas
  • A sketch of the farmstead showing location of existing and planned structures
  • Catastrophic and routine carcass disposal plan
  • A nutrient management plan for agricultural fields, detailing manure and fertilizer application amounts by field
  • Recordkeeping forms
  • Other items