A Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is the best way to develop a workable strategy and prove that you are in compliance with upcoming EPA regulations related to applied fertilizer and manure. The CNMP is a nutrient accounting system that balances the applied nutrient contribution of the manure and wastewater to the needs of the crops and pasture receiving it.

CNMPs will address all aspects of manure and wastewater collection and storage, handling and disposal, employee training, planning and record keeping. The information needed to develop a manure application plan is the amount and analysis of manure on the farm, the fields where manure can be applied and their nutrient requirements, the application or hauling costs of manure, and the cost of commercial fertilizer.

As manure management becomes increasingly complex, large livestock operators may want to hire a manure management consultant such as Leonard Meador.

Please note that the products and services in this article may not be appropriate for all states. Consult your state's NRCS Agronomist or appropriate regulatory authorities to determine your specific needs.

Hire a planner. Meador’s company, Global Eco-tech, provides a range of consulting services, including on-site evaluations, data collection, testing and on-line data management. Meador says the cost of the new regulations will vary from operation to operation. And though the size of operation needing a CNMP is unclear, he expects that small operations will be exempted. “Overall, swine producers can expect higher costs both to develop and maintain their plan and to apply manure,” he says. Contact Global Eco-tech, 3205 W. 800 S., Rossville, IN 46065-9130, 765/379-9021, visit www.globalecotech.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.

Do it yourself. The University of Minnesota offers a computer software program called the Manure Application Planner (MAP). The program generates reports that outline manure application methods used, rates per acre, nutrient credits, commercial fertilizer used, excess nutrients applied and fertilization costs using manure compared with using only commercial fertilizer.

If you do not know the manure application rates for your fields, you can let MAP run an optimization to determine the most cost-effective plan that does not overapply nutrients. The optimization will determine the application method and rate for each field, or you can select a method as a constraint for the filed. For example, you might select surface broadcast for an alfalfa field. If you have an application plan in mind, you can use MAP to calculate the nutrients applied, calculate any supplemental commercial fertilizer required, and help you document the applications.

To purchase the program, send a check for $95 (Minnesota residents add $6.65 sales tax) to Manure Application Planner, Center for Farm Financial Management, University of Minnesota, 130 Classroom Office Bldg., 1994 Buford Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, 800/234-1111. Download a sample program at www.cffm.umn.edu/Software/MAP.