University of Vermont

Preparing a Nutrient Management Plan Preparing a Nutrient Management Plan

Bill Jokela, Extension Associate Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont bill.jokela@uvm.edu


1. Conduct a farm resource inventory

a. Collect farm and soils maps and conservation plan
b. Organize existing field information such as crop and manure history, soil tests, crop yield potentials, etc.
c. Conduct whole-farm environmental assessment (locate environmentally sensitive features such as proximity to wells and streams, shallow bedrock, etc.)
d. Estimate whole farm manure production and nutrient value.
e. Calculate an approximate whole-farm nutrient budget to estimate the balance between land base and farm manure production


2. Establish overall cropping plan for the farm to support your whole farm goals.  Include crops to be grown on each field, planned rotation, tillage, conservation practices, etc.Establish realistic yield expectations.

3. Set up crop record keeping system.

4. Sample and analyze manure.

5. Soil sample all fields that don’t have current soil tests and submit for routine soil testing

6. Conduct field-by-field environmental assessment

a. Conduct P Index on fields highlighted by P Runoff Screening Matrix
b. Conduct Nitrate Leaching Index where required


7. Prioritize fields for manure application accounting for crop need and environmental assessment results. Then determine manure application rate for each individual field using recommendations from soil test reports, manure analysis, and field information. Decide timing, incorporation, etc.

8. Determine additional fertilizer and aglime need, including method and timing.Note: N fertilizer need for corn will be based on Pre-sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT).

9. Calibrate application equipment: manure spreader, fertilizer spreader, and planter fertilizer applicator, if needed.

10. Soil sample corn fields for Pre-sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) when plants are 8-12 inches tall. Determine N fertilizer rate and method for each field

11. Walk/scout fields periodically during season to check for pests, nutrient deficiencies, and signs of environmental damage.High priority times are:

a. 1-3 wks after planting/seeding: check emergence, planter or starter fertilizer problems, P deficiency, etc.
b. 4-6 wks after planting (corn): check plant height for PSNT, nutrient deficiency, including zinc, etc.
c. Mid-late July (corn): N deficiency symptoms
d. Pre-silage harvest: check leaves (corn) for N deficiency or excess (See Cornell guidelines)
e. As needed: check alfalfa for nutrient deficiency, especially K and boron.


12. At harvest, measure or estimate yields. Enter into record keeping system and use as feedback for next year’s planning.


This site is maintained by Sid.Bosworth@uvm.edu, Plant & Soil Science Department, University of Vermont.

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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont.University of Vermont Extension and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, or marital or familial status

Last modified May 26 2004 01:29 PM

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