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                        NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE
                                CONSERVATION PRACTICE STANDARD


                                     NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT
                                                          (Ac.)


                                                      CODE 590



DEFINITION                                                        Realistic yield goals shall be established based
                                                                  on soil productivity information, historical yield
Managing the amount, source, placement,
                                                                  data, climatic conditions, level of management
form and timing of the application of plant
                                                                  and/or local research on similar soil, cropping
nutrients and soil amendments.
                                                                  systems, and soil and manure/organic by-
                                                                  products tests.
PURPOSE
                                                                  For new crops or varieties, industry yield
   To budget and supply nutrients for plant                      recommendations may be used until
    production.                                                   documented yield information is available.
   To properly utilize manure or organic by-                     Plans for nutrient management shall specify
    products as a plant nutrient source.                          the source, amount, timing and method of
                                                                  application of nutrients on each field to achieve
   To minimize agricultural nonpoint source
                                                                  realistic production goals, while minimizing
    pollution of surface and ground water
                                                                  movement of nutrients and other potential
    resources.
                                                                  contaminants to surface and/or ground waters.
   To protect air quality by reducing nitrogen
                                                                  Areas contained within established minimum
    emissions (ammonia and NOx compounds)
                                                                  application setbacks (e.g., sinkholes, wells,
    and the formation of atmospheric
                                                                  gullies, ditches, surface inlets or rapidly
    particulates.
                                                                  permeable soil areas) shall not receive direct
   To maintain or improve the physical,                          application of nutrients.
    chemical and biological condition of soil.
                                                                  The amount of nutrients lost to erosion, runoff,
                                                                  irrigation and drainage, shall be addressed, as
CONDITIONS WHERE PRACTICE APPLIES                                 needed.
This practice applies to all lands where plant                    Soil and Tissue Sampling and Laboratory
nutrients and soil amendments are applied.                        Analyses (Testing). Nutrient planning shall be
                                                                  based on current soil and tissue (where used
                                                                  as a supplement) test results developed in
CRITERIA
                                                                  accordance with Land Grant University
                                                                  guidance, or industry practice if recognized by
General Criteria Applicable to All Purposes
                                                                  the Land Grant University. Current soil tests
A nutrient budget for nitrogen, phosphorus, and                   are those that are no older than five years.
potassium shall be developed that considers all
potential sources of nutrients including, but not                 Soil and tissue samples shall be collected and
limited to animal manure and organic by-                          prepared according to the Land Grant
products, waste water, commercial fertilizer,                     University guidance or standard industry
crop residues, legume credits, and irrigation                     practice. Soil and tissue test analyses shall be
water.                                                            performed by laboratories that are accepted in
                                                                  one or more of the following:


Conservation practice standards are reviewed periodically and updated if needed. To obtain        NRCS, NHCP
the current version of this standard, contact your Natural Resources Conservation Service
State Office or visit the electronic Field Office Technical Guide.                                 August 2006
590 - 2


   Laboratories successfully meeting the                Potassium Application - Potassium shall
    requirements and performance standards                not be applied in situations in which excess
    of the North American Proficiency Testing             (greater than soil test potassium
    Program (NAPT) under the auspices of the              recommendation) causes unacceptable
    Soil Science Society of America, or                   nutrient imbalances in crops or forages.
                                                          When forage quality is an issue associated
   State recognized program that considers               with excess potassium application, state
    laboratory performance and proficiency to             standards shall be used to set forage
    assure accuracy of soil test results.                 quality guidelines.
Soil and tissue testing shall include analyses           Other Plant Nutrients - The planned rates
for any nutrients for which specific information          of application of other nutrients shall be
is needed to develop the nutrient plan.                   consistent with Land Grant University
Request analyses pertinent to monitoring or               guidance or industry practice if recognized
amending the annual nutrient budget, e.g. pH,             by the Land Grant University in the state.
electrical conductivity (EC), soil organic matter,
                                                         Starter Fertilizers - When starter fertilizers
nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
                                                          are used, they shall be included in the
Nutrient Application Rates. Soil                          overall nutrient budget, and applied in
amendments shall be applied, as needed, to                accordance with Land Grant University
adjust soil pH to an adequate level for crop              recommendations, or industry practice if
nutrient availability and utilization.                    recognized by the Land Grant University
                                                          within the state.
Recommended nutrient application rates shall
be based on Land Grant University                     Nutrient Application Timing. Timing and
recommendations (and/or industry practice             method of nutrient application (particularly
when recognized by the university) that               nitrogen) shall correspond as closely as
consider current soil test results, realistic yield   possible with plant nutrient uptake
goals and management capabilities. If the             characteristics, while considering cropping
Land Grant University does not provide specific       system limitations, weather and climatic
recommendations, application shall be based           conditions, risk assessment tools (e.g.,
on realistic yield goals and associated plant         leaching index, P index) and field accessibility.
nutrient uptake rates.
                                                      Nutrient Application Methods. Application
The planned rates of nutrient application, as         methods to reduce the risk of nutrient transport
documented in the nutrient budget, shall be           to surface and ground water, or into the
determined based on the following guidance:           atmosphere shall be employed.
   Nitrogen Application - Planned nitrogen           To minimize nutrient losses:
    application rates shall match the
                                                         Apply nutrient materials uniformly to
    recommended rates as closely as possible,
                                                          application area(s).
    except when manure or organic by-
    products are a source of nutrients. When             Nutrients shall not be applied to frozen,
    manure or organic by-products are a                   snow-covered or saturated soil if the
    source of nutrients, see “Additional                  potential risk for runoff exists.
    Criteria” below.
                                                         Nutrients shall be applied considering the
   Phosphorus Application - Planned                      plant growth habits, irrigation practices,
    phosphorus application rates shall match              and other conditions so as to maximize
    the recommended rates as closely as                   availability to the plant and minimize the
    possible, except when manure or organic               risk of runoff, leaching, and volatilization
    by-products are sources of nutrients.                 losses.
    When manure or organic by-products are a
                                                         Nutrient applications associated with
    source of nutrients, see “Additional
                                                          irrigation systems shall be applied in a
    Criteria” below.
                                                          manner that prevents or minimizes
                                                          resource impairment.

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Conservation Management Unit (CMU) Risk              accurately estimate nutrient output from the
Assessment. In areas with identified or              proposed operation (e.g., NRCS Agricultural
designated nutrient related water quality            Waste Management Field Handbook).
impairment, a CMU specific risk assessment of
                                                     Biosolids (sewage sludge) shall be applied in
the potential for nutrient transport from the area
                                                     accordance with USEPA regulations. (40 CFR
shall be completed.
                                                     Parts 403 (Pretreatment) and 503 (Biosolids)
States that utilize a threshold prescreening         and other state and/or local regulations
procedure to trigger CMU risk assessment             regarding the use of biosolids as a nutrient
shall follow approved procedures as                  source.
recommended by the respective state or Land
                                                     Manure and Organic By-Product Nutrient
Grant University.
                                                     Application Rates. Manure and organic by-
Use an appropriate nutrient risk assessment          product nutrient application rates shall be
tool for the nutrient in question (e.g., leaching    based on nutrient analyses procedures
index, phosphorus index) or other state              recommended by the respective state or Land
recognized assessment tool.                          Grant University. As indicated above, “book
                                                     values” may be used in planning for new
Additional Criteria Applicable to Manure             operations. At a minimum, manure analyses
and Organic By-Products or Biosolids                 shall identify nutrient and specific ion
Applied as a Plant Nutrient Source                   concentrations, percent moisture, and percent
When animal manures or organic by-products           organic matter. Salt concentration shall be
are applied, a risk assessment of the potential      monitored so that manure applications do not
for nutrient transport from the CMU shall be         cause plant damage or negatively impact soil
completed to adjust the amount, placement,           quality.
form and timing of application of nutrient           The application rate (in/hr) of liquid materials
sources, as recommended by the respective            applied shall not exceed the soil
state or Land Grant University.                      intake/infiltration rate and shall be adjusted to
Nutrient values of manure and organic by-            minimize ponding and to avoid runoff. The total
products (excluding sewage sludge or                 application shall not exceed the field capacity
biosolids) shall be determined prior to land         of the soil and shall be adjusted, as needed, to
application. Samples will be taken and               minimize loss to subsurface tile drains.
analyzed with each hauling/emptying cycle for        The planned rates of nitrogen and phosphorus
a storage/treatment facility. Manure sampling        application recorded in the plan shall be
frequency may vary based on the operation’s          determined based on the following guidance:
manure handling strategy and spreading
schedule. If there is no prior sampling history,         Nitrogen Application Rates
the manure shall be analyzed at least annually           o   When manure or organic by-products
for a minimum of three consecutive years. A                  are used, the nitrogen availability of the
cumulative record shall be developed and                     planned application rates shall match
maintained until a consistent (maintaining a                 plant uptake characteristics as closely
certain nutrient concentration with minimal                  as possible, taking into consideration
variation) level of nutrient values is realized.             the timing of nutrient application(s) in
The average of results contained in the                      order to minimize leaching and
operation’s cumulative manure analyses                       atmospheric losses.
history shall be used as a basis for nutrient
allocation to fields. Samples shall be collected         o   Management activities and
and prepared according to Land Grant                         technologies shall be used that
University guidance or industry practice.                    effectively utilize mineralized nitrogen
                                                             and that minimize nitrogen losses
In planning for new operations, acceptable                   through denitrification and ammonia
“book values” recognized by the NRCS and/or                  volatilization.
the Land Grant University may be used if they


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    o     Manure or organic by-products may be                   Guidance for developing these
          applied on legumes at rates equal to                   acceptable rates is found in the
          the estimated removal of nitrogen in                   NRCS General Manual, Title 190,
          harvested plant biomass.                               Part 402 (Ecological Sciences,
                                                                 Nutrient Management, Policy), and
    o     When the nutrient management plan
                                                                 the National Agronomy Manual,
          component is being implemented on a
                                                                 Section 503 (to be developed).
          phosphorus basis, manure or organic
          by-products shall be applied at rates          o   The application of phosphorus applied
          consistent with a phosphorus limited               as manure may be made at a rate
          application rate. In such situations, an           equal to the recommended
          additional nitrogen application, from              phosphorus application or estimated
          non-organic sources, may be required               phosphorus removal in harvested plant
          to supply, but not exceed, the                     biomass for the crop rotation or
          recommended amounts of nitrogen in                 multiple years in the crop sequence.
          any given year.                                    When such applications are made, the
                                                             application rate shall:
    Phosphorus Application Rates
                                                                Not exceed the recommended
    o     When manure or organic by-products
                                                                 nitrogen application rate during the
          are used, the planned rates of
                                                                 year of application, or
          phosphorus application shall be
          consistent with any one of the following              Not exceed the estimated nitrogen
          options:                                               removal in harvested plant
                                                                 biomass during the year of
             Phosphorus Index (PI) Rating.
                                                                 application when there is no
              Nitrogen-based manure
                                                                 recommended nitrogen
              application on Low or Medium Risk
                                                                 application.
              Sites; phosphorus-based or no
              manure application on High and                    Not be made on sites considered
              Very High Risk Sites.**                            vulnerable to off-site phosphorus
                                                                 transport unless appropriate
             Soil Phosphorus Threshold
                                                                 conservation practices, best
              Values. Nitrogen-based manure
                                                                 management practices or
              application on sites on which the
                                                                 management activities are used to
              soil test phosphorus levels are
                                                                 reduce the vulnerability.
              below the threshold values;
              Phosphorus-based or no manure          Heavy Metal Monitoring. When sewage
              application on sites on which soil     sludge (biosolids) is applied, the accumulation
              phosphorus levels equal or exceed      of potential pollutants (including arsenic,
              threshold values.**                    cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium,
                                                     and zinc) in the soil shall be monitored in
             Soil Test. Nitrogen-based manure
                                                     accordance with the US Code, Reference 40
              application on sites for which the
                                                     CFR, Parts 403 and 503, and/or any applicable
              soil test recommendation calls for
                                                     state and local laws or regulations.
              phosphorus application;
              phosphorus-based or no manure
                                                     Additional Criteria to Protect Air Quality by
              application on sites for which the
                                                     Reducing Nitrogen and/or Particulate
              soil test recommendation calls for
                                                     Emissions to the Atmosphere
              no phosphorus application. ‡
                                                     In areas with an identified or designated
                  ** Acceptable phosphorus-          nutrient management related air quality
              based manure application rates         concern, any component(s) of nutrient
              shall be determined as a function      management (i.e., amount, source, placement,
              of soil test recommendation or         form, timing of application) identified by risk
              estimated phosphorus removal in        assessment tools as a potential source of
              harvested plant biomass.

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atmospheric pollutants shall be adjusted, as         The addition of these management activities,
necessary, to minimize the loss(es).                 when applicable, increases the management
                                                     intensity of the system and is recommended in
When tillage can be performed, surface
                                                     a nutrient management system.
applications of manure and fertilizer nitrogen
formulations that are subject to volatilization on   Action should be taken to protect National
the soil surface (e.g., urea) shall be               Register listed and other eligible cultural
incorporated into the soil within 24 hours after     resources.
application.
                                                     The nutrient budget should be reviewed
When manure or organic by-products are               annually to determine if any changes are
applied to grassland, hayland, pasture or            needed for the next planned crop.
minimum-till areas the rate, form and timing of
                                                     For sites on which there are special
application(s) shall be managed to minimize
                                                     environmental concerns, other sampling
volatilization losses.
                                                     techniques may be appropriate. These include
When liquid forms of manure are applied with         soil profile sampling for nitrogen, Pre-
irrigation equipment, operators will select          Sidedress Nitrogen Test (PSNT), Pre-Plant
weather conditions during application that will      Soil Nitrate Test (PPSN) or soil surface
minimize volatilization losses.                      sampling for phosphorus accumulation or pH
                                                     changes.
Operators will handle and apply poultry litter or
other dry types of animal manures when the           Additional practices to enhance the producer’s
potential for wind-driven loss is low and there is   ability to manage manure effectively include
less potential for transport of particulates into    modification of the animal’s diet to reduce the
the atmosphere.                                      manure nutrient content, or utilizing manure
                                                     amendments that stabilize or tie-up nutrients.
Weather and climatic conditions during manure
or organic by-product application(s) shall be        Soil test information should be no older than
recorded and maintained in accordance with           one year when developing new plans,
the operation and maintenance section of this        particularly if animal manures are to be used
standard.                                            as a nutrient source.
                                                     Excessive levels of some nutrients can cause
Additional Criteria to Improve the Physical,
                                                     induced deficiencies of other nutrients.
Chemical and Biological Condition of the
Soil                                                 If increases in soil phosphorus levels are
Nutrients shall be applied and managed in a          expected, consider a more frequent (annual)
manner that maintains or improves the                soil testing interval.
physical, chemical and biological condition of       To manage the conversion of nitrogen in
the soil.                                            manure or fertilizer, use products or materials
Minimize the use of nutrient sources with high       (e.g. nitrification inhibitors, urease inhibitors
salt content unless provisions are made to           and slow or controlled release fertilizers) that
leach salts below the crop root zone.                more closely match nutrient release and
                                                     availability for plant uptake. These materials
To the extent practicable nutrients shall not be     may improve the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE)
applied when the potential for soil compaction       of the nutrient management system by
and rutting is high.                                 reducing losses of nitrogen into water and/or
                                                     air.
CONSIDERATIONS                                       Considerations to Minimize Agricultural
The use of management activities and                 Nonpoint Source Pollution of Surface and
technologies listed in this section may improve      Ground Water.
both the production and environmental                Erosion control and runoff reduction practices
performance of nutrient management systems.          can improve soil nutrient and water storage,
                                                     infiltration, aeration, tilth, diversity of soil

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                                                                                     August 2006
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organisms and protect or improve water and air        system will be reduced when applied under a
quality (Consider installation of one or more         crop canopy.
NRCS FOTG, Section IV – Conservation
                                                      When planning nutrient applications and tillage
Practice Standards).
                                                      operations, encourage soil carbon buildup
Cover crops can effectively utilize and/or            while discouraging greenhouse gas emissions
recycle residual nitrogen.                            (e.g., nitrous oxide N2O, carbon dioxide CO2).
Apply nutrient materials uniformly to the             Nutrient applications associated with irrigation
application area. Application methods and             systems should be applied in accordance with
timing that reduce the risk of nutrients being        the requirements of Irrigation Water
transported to ground and surface waters, or          Management (Code 449).
into the atmosphere include:
                                                      CAFO operations seeking permits under
   Split applications of nitrogen to provide         USEPA regulations (40 CFR Parts 122 and
    nutrients at the times of maximum crop            412) should consult with their respective state
    utilization,                                      permitting authority for additional criteria.
   Use stalk-test to minimize risk of over
    applying nitrogen in excess of crop needs.        PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS
   Avoid winter nutrient application for spring      Plans and specifications for nutrient
    seeded crops,                                     management shall be in keeping with this
                                                      standard and shall describe the requirements
   Band applications of phosphorus near the
                                                      for applying the practice to achieve its intended
    seed row,
                                                      purpose(s), using nutrients to achieve
   Incorporate surface applied manures or            production goals and to prevent or minimize
    organic by-products as soon as possible           resource impairment.
    after application to minimize nutrient
                                                      Nutrient management plans shall include a
    losses,
                                                      statement that the plan was developed based
   Delay field application of animal manures         on requirements of the current standard and
    or organic by-products if precipitation           any applicable Federal, state, or local
    capable of producing runoff and erosion is        regulations, policies, or programs, which may
    forecast within 24 hours of the time of the       include the implementation of other practices
    planned application.                              and/or management activities. Changes in any
                                                      of these requirements may necessitate a
Considerations to Protect Air Quality by
                                                      revision of the plan.
Reducing Nitrogen and/or Particulate
Emissions to the Atmosphere.                          The following components shall be included in
                                                      the nutrient management plan:
Odors associated with the land application of
manures and organic by-products can be                   aerial site photograph(s) or site map(s),
offensive to the occupants of nearby homes.               and a soil survey map of the site,
Avoid applying these materials upwind of
                                                         location of designated sensitive areas or
occupied structures when residents are likely
                                                          resources and the associated, nutrient
to be home (evenings, weekends and
                                                          management restriction,
holidays).
                                                         current and/or planned plant production
When applying manure with irrigation
                                                          sequence or crop rotation,
equipment, modifying the equipment can
reduce the potential for volatilization of nitrogen      results of soil, water, manure and/or
from the time the manure leaves the                       organic by-product sample analyses,
application equipment until it reaches the
                                                         results of plant tissue analyses, when used
surface of the soil (e.g., reduced pressure,
                                                          for nutrient management,
drop down tubes for center pivots). N
volatilization from manure in a surface irrigation       realistic yield goals for the crops,


NRCS, NHCP
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   complete nutrient budget for nitrogen,           calibration of application equipment to
    phosphorus, and potassium for the crop            ensure uniform distribution of material at
    rotation or sequence,                             planned rates.
   listing and quantification of all nutrient       documentation of the actual rate at which
    sources,                                          nutrients were applied. When the actual
                                                      rates used differ from the recommended
   CMU specific recommended nutrient
                                                      and planned rates, records will indicate the
    application rates, timing, form, and method
                                                      reasons for the differences.
    of application and incorporation, and
                                                     Maintaining records to document plan
   guidance for implementation, operation,
                                                      implementation. As applicable, records
    maintenance, and recordkeeping.
                                                      include:
If increases in soil phosphorus levels are
                                                      o   Soil, plant tissue, water, manure, and
expected, the nutrient management plan shall
                                                          organic by-product analyses resulting
document:
                                                          in recommendations for nutrient
   the soil phosphorus levels at which it may            application,
    be desirable to convert to phosphorus
                                                      o   quantities, analyses and sources of
    based planning,
                                                          nutrients applied,
   results of appropriate risk assessment
                                                      o   dates and method(s) of nutrient
    tools to document the relationship between
                                                          applications,
    soil phosphorus levels and potential for
    phosphorus transport from the field,              o   weather conditions and soil moisture at
                                                          the time of application; lapsed time to
   the potential for soil phosphorus drawdown
                                                          manure incorporation, rainfall or
    from the production and harvesting of
                                                          irrigation event.
    crops, and
                                                      o   crops planted, planting and harvest
   management activities or techniques used
                                                          dates, yields, and crop residues
    to reduce the potential for phosphorus
                                                          removed,
    loss.
                                                      o   dates of plan review, name of
                                                          reviewer, and recommended changes
OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
                                                          resulting from the review.
The owner/client is responsible for safe
                                                  Records should be maintained for five years; or
operation and maintenance of this practice
                                                  for a period longer than five years if required by
including all equipment. Operation and
                                                  other Federal, state or local ordinances, or
maintenance addresses the following:
                                                  program or contract requirements.
   periodic plan review to determine if
                                                  Workers should be protected from and avoid
    adjustments or modifications to the plan
                                                  unnecessary contact with plant nutrient
    are needed. As a minimum, plans will be
                                                  sources. Extra caution must be taken when
    reviewed and revised with each soil test
                                                  handling ammoniacal nutrient sources, or when
    cycle.
                                                  dealing with organic wastes stored in
   significant changes in animal numbers         unventilated enclosures.
    and/or feed management will necessitate
                                                  Material generated from cleaning nutrient
    additional manure sampling and analyses
                                                  application equipment should be utilized in an
    to establish a revised average nutrient
                                                  environmentally safe manner. Excess material
    content.
                                                  should be collected and stored or field applied
   protection of fertilizer and organic by-      in an appropriate manner.
    product storage facilities from weather and
                                                  Nutrient containers should be recycled in
    accidental leakage or spillage.
                                                  compliance with state and local guidelines or
                                                  regulations.

                                                                                  NRCS, NHCP
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590 - 8


REFERENCES                                        Sims, J.T. (ed.) 2005. Phosphorus: Agriculture
                                                  and the Environment. Agron. Monogr. 46. ASA,
Follett, R.F. 2001. Nitrogen Transformation
                                                  CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.
and Transport Processes. pp. 17-44, In R.F.
Follett and J. Hatfield. (eds.). 2001. Nitrogen   Stevenson, F.J. (ed.) 1982. Nitrogen in
in the Environment; Sources, Problems, and        Agricultural Soils. Agron. Series 22. ASA,
Solutions. Elsevier Science Publishers. The       CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.
Netherlands. 520 pp.




NRCS, NHCP
August 2006

								
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