Three basic things producers should know
When it comes to on-farm environmental stewardship, few topics generate more questions or controversy than manure and how to manage it. In recent years, Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs) have been identified as a major tool in manure management.
Despite the fact that the concept makes sense on paper, the question on many farmers’ minds is, “What exactly is an NMP and where do I start?” Although there is no single precise, prescribed way to develop an NMP, it should meet three basic objectives. It should help the producer:
Determine manure/fertilizer application rates by field
Identify sensitive or high-risk field areas
Determine management practices that can help control nutrient loss from agricultural land
In short, it’s a simple tool to help producers develop a system which improves efficiency of manure application without presenting a threat to the soil, water or air. Here are some tips on developing an NMP:
1. Know standards and legislation. Developing an NMP is a Beneficial Management Practice (BMP) under the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program and in most cases is strictly voluntary. However, there are cases in which an NMP is required, and it’s up to each individual producer to know the legislation pertaining to NMPs.
2. Know the costs. If it is required by legislation, the cost of developing a NMP depends largely on the situation and size of the farm. Generally, the bigger the farm, the more expensive developing an NMP is likely to be.
Although hiring a consultant is recommended, producers can save money by developing all or part of the plan themselves. There are new tools that have made planning easier than ever before. An example from the Alberta Agriculture and Food Ropin’ the Web site is the Manure Management Planner software, available for download at www.agric.gov.ab.ca.
3. Get technical assistance. Free technical assistance is available through the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan technical assistant network.
This article may be reprinted with the credit: Alberta Environmental Farm Plan
For more how-to fact sheets or other information, visit www.albertaEFP.com.