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When Must I have a Nutrient Management Plan?

The Department of Ag, Trade, and Consumer Protection, along with the Department of Natural Resources state that farms which apply manure or commercial fertilizer to cropland need to have a Nutrient Management Plan. According to the DATCP website, a Nutrient Management Plan is required when:

  • A producer voluntarily accepts, or is offered, government cost-share dollars for nutrient management. State law makes enforcement contingent on an offer of cost sharing for this item only.
  • A producer voluntarily accepts, or is offered, government cost-share dollars for the installation of manure storage.
  • A producer voluntarily continues participation in the farmland preservation program (FPP).
  • A producer is regulated under a county manure storage or livestock siting ordinance.
  • A producer is regulated under a DNR Wisconsin pollution discharge elimination system permit (WPDES). Or if a producer is required to prevent or mitigate imminent harm to waters of the state as an emergency or interim response to a grossly negligent pollution discharge.
For more helpful information about Nutrient Management Planning, take a look at the following links:

http://datcp.wi.gov/Farms/Nutrient_Management/index.aspx for DATCP Nutrient Management Information
 http://www.soils.wisc.edu/extension/fertilitybasic.php for Soil Fertility Basics
What is a Nutrient Management Plan?

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service defines a Nutrient Management Plan as, “managing the amount, source, placement, form, and timing of the application of nutrients and soil amendments.” The main objectives of a Nutrient Management Plan include:

  • Manure and fertilizer recommendations based on soil test results
  • Calculating and monitoring soil loss
  • Calculating and monitoring phosphorus delivery to surface water
  • Record-keeping systems
How Will I Benefit from a Nutrient Management Plan?

Nutrient management planning will assist the grower in properly supplying the essential nutrients for crop production. Nutrient management planning is also used as a tool to maintain the condition of the soil for future crop productions.

The end goal of an NMP is to minimize the environmental impact of soil loss, nutrient loss to ground and surface water, and meeting the nutrient needs of the crops grown.
Basics of Sampling Soils for Analysis
Why Test Your Soil?

Analyzing soil is a beneficial, easy, and inexpensive diagnostic tool for determining a grower’s soil nutrient needs.

Knowing the nutrient levels of the soil helps make decisions on how much fertilizer to apply, therefore saving money on expensive fertilizers.

Knowing the nutrient content of soil also aids in crop production, leading to higher crop yields and soil performance.

Soil sampling is also an essential part of Nutrient Management Planning. Soil test results play a crucial role in the fertilizer recommendations for each field.

Soil tests for Nutrient Management Plans must also be updated every 4 years for accurate nutrient management planning.
What are the Different Soil-Sampling Methods?

Conventional Sampling:
  • Lower overall sampling cost
  • Grower gets a general idea of soil fertility
  • Bulk spreading of fertilizer
  • Uses existing technology

Grid Sampling:

  • Visual impact - color maps illustrating fertility variation in a field and on the farm
  • Consistency - ability to sample the exact same spot each time you sample allowing for a true comparison in fertility from year to year.
  • Variable Rate Application - precise placement of fertilizer where it is needed.
  • Data - ability to compare soil fertility to other data such as yield maps, planting maps, soil type, and bio-mas index.
Evaluating Alfalfa Stand for Winter Kill / Consider Shorter Rotations 

Although most farm plans are complete and we’re gearing up for planting season - keep in mind the health of current alfalfa fields should be considered to make any final changes. If a field has suffered some winter injury, or is just getting old, it may be more profitable to rotate out, take advantage of any Nitrogen credits - rather than limp along a low yielding, unprofitable alfalfa field. Every acre should pull it’s weight for overall farm profitability. Call your local Heartland Agronomy office today! UW has some of the best information available and further reading can be found in the links below:



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