Components of a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan

It takes 13 steps to build a comprehensive nutrient management plan.

A comprehensive nutrient management plan is an in-depth document that farms having over 1,000 animal units need to have. The plan needs to be followed and regularly updated. There are thirteen basic components of the plan. Some of the components may not be applicable to your farming operation, however it should be denoted in the plan that it is not applicable. The following is a very brief overview of what is in each of the components.

Overview. The overview gives a description of the operation including physical address, tillable acres, total animal units, specific water concerns, update schedule and any future plans for expansion. This section should also have a signature page stating who is responsible implementation and update to the plan.

Farm headquarters map. This section is comprised of site maps denoting farm buildings and their uses. Storage facilities and water sources should be mapped and prevailing winds denoted.

Evaluation of existing components. This section highlights making an informed judgment of the condition of structural components of a CNMP. These components are evaluated to make sure they are in “good operating condition.” This determination may involve viewing as-built records, onsite inspections, and verification from the manufacturer. More about this evaluation process will be written in a future article.

Animal output. The animal output component is the section that emphasizes the livestock production on the farm. Not only are livestock numbers recorded but also any wastewater from parlors, plate coolers, animal waterers, runoff from lots, etc. This section also covers any nutrients from feedstuff, mortality and storages.

Conservation practices on fields used for manure application. Maps with all applicable information for manure application need to be in this section. Erosion calculations, existing conservation management practices and all risks need to be identified for each field. Irrigation and winter spreading information must be provided on applicable fields.

Land application management. This section is where the nutrient budget for each field are found, including rate application, crops grown, yield goal, soil samples, nutrient recommendations, crop removal rates, etc. This section is where manure rates are recorded.

Record of CNMP implementation. This is the list for the records that are maintained and kept on the farm for five years.

Inputs to animals-feed management. Any measures to reduce or manage nutrient output from livestock needs to be documented.

Alternative utilization. Nutrients that leave the farm through power generation, sale, or used for other products i.e. compost, need to be accurately accounted for and documented.

Odor management. Steps to ensure odor is minimized and the farm is in compliance with Michigan Right to Farm Act are found in this section.

Inspection, operations and maintenance training. Inspection and maintenance schedules should be documented as well as completed. A training schedule for employees whose work correlates with the objective to the CNMP is maintained in this section.

Schedule of implementation. New practices or facilities that will be constructed should be listed. Documentation of plan updates and proposed future changes should be documented.

Emergency action plan. An action plan for on-farm and in-field emergencies needs to be written. Contact information as well as maps should be maintained and annually reviewed.

Due to the complexity of these plans you may want to consider consulting a certified conservation plan writer. Michigan State University Extension educators, NRCS and Conservation District staff can also be contacted for assistance. The bulletin, “Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP)by Don Jones, Al Sutton and Charles Gould can be purchased through the MSU Extension Bookstore.

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