Assembling an NMP

Nutrient Plan for the Cropping System

Author: Rick Koelsch, University of Nebraska


A Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) is the environmental operating or management plan for a livestock or poultry facility. Its goal is agronomic utilization of manure nutrients in the cropping system. A well-designed NMP can reverse past manure-related environmental problems and produce environmental benefits.

Purpose of this resource is to assist with:
--¢ Preparing an NMP for the cropping system;
--¢ Meeting Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) expectations for nutrient planning.

Planning Process

Planning Process flowchart of steps 1-5
The nutrient planning process commonly involves five steps:

  1. Assemble an Inventory of available resources.
  2. Develop a long term (Strategic) plan describing the guidelines the livestock producer agrees to follow.
    (A regulatory permit application targets these two steps.)

As new information becomes available each cropping season e.g., soil and manure test results

  1. Use Strategic Plan's guidelines to define field-specific manure and fertilizer application rates (Annual Plan).
  2. Maintain records as the plan is implemented to document plan implementation.
  3. Identify plan modifications that should be made next year.

Strategic vs. Annual Plan

An NMP for the cropping system includes both a Strategic Plan and an Annual Plan. The Strategic Plan is a multi-year plan that should:

  1. Substantiate the potential for the farm to manage manure nutrients in an environmentally sound manner (e.g., Is sufficient land accessible? What records will be maintained?).
  2. Describe the decision process to be followed for annual planning.
  3. Illustrate an example Annual Plan for the next cropping season. Development of annual plans for more than the next cropping season involves considerable guesswork since critical information is not available at that time.

The Annual Plan uses the guidelines in the Strategic Plan to

  1. Estimate final application rates.
  2. Select preferred fields to receive manure, and identify preferred manure application timing based upon the most recent information for soil and manure analysis, planned crops and recent yields, weather conditions, and available manure storage capacity.

This Annual Plan must be updated prior to each cropping season and possibly again as the cropping season unfolds.

Go to Nutrient Management Plan Tools page

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The author wishes to extend his appreciation for the peer reviews completed by Diego Ayala, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Alan Rosenboom, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

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