Nutrient Management Program
The basic concept of nutrient management is to balance the nutrient application to crop fields (typically nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), whether from spreading manure or chemical fertilizers, with the amount necessary for optimum crop growth and production. If this balance is achieved, there is a two-fold benefit:
1. Economics - It is important to properly account for the nutrient benefit of manure application. For many years, agricultural producers applied chemical fertilizers based upon crop needs in addition to spreading manure. The fact is that in some cases, manure application may be enough to meet the crop requirements. Money spent on chemical fertilizers could be saved! It is important to realize and test for the nutrient value of manure, to account for it prior to application.
2. Environment - Nutrients, from both manure and chemical fertilizers, are essential to a farm. Excess application, however, not only wastes money, but can also have harmful effects on the environment. Runoff carrying excess nutrients generated from farm fields can cause serous water quality problems. Applying only the needed amounts of nutrients can reduce the threat of water pollution.
The goal of the program is to encourage farmers to develop Nutrient Management Plans for their operations, and provide assistance to those who wish to participate. In some cases across the state, farms are considered Concentrated Animal Operations (CAO's) or those operations that have an animal density that exceeds two animal equivalency units (AEU) per spreadable acre (i.e. cropland, hayland, pasture). An AEU is 1000 pounds of live weight of any animal. CAO's are required by law to develop and maintain a nutrient management plan. Most farms are considered volunteer operations that wish to balance nutrient applications.
$$ GRANTS AVAILABLE $$
The VCD coordinates two grant programs to help agriculture producers participate in the nutrient management program. The Plan Development Incentives Program (PDIP) is an opportunity for cost-share funding to aid a farmer in developing a nutrient management plan. The second is the Nutrient Management Plan Implementation Grant Program (NMPIGP), which is an opportunity for cost-share funding to aid a farmer in completing on-the-ground practices recommended in their nutrient management plan.
Manure Management in Pennsylvania
Every farm in Pennsylvania that land applies manure or agricultural process wastewater (generated on the farm or received from an importer), regardless of size, is required to have and implement a written Manure Management Plan. This includes manure and agricultural process wastewater application by various types of equipment and/or direct application of manure by animals on pastures and in Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs). In other words, farms that do not mechanically apply manure but which do have pastures or ACAs still need a Manure Management Plan.
Farms defined as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) are required to develop written plans as well. The nutrient management plans for these animal operations are required to follow a different more detailed process and must be developed by a Certified Nutrient Management Specialist.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has developed a Manure Management Plan Workbook for farmers to use that contains the forms needed for planning. The link below is a PDF version of DEP's guidance book, workbook, record keeping forms and rate tables.
PA DEP Land Application of Manure Publication
More information on manure management in Pennsylvania can be found at the following website:
Check out this presentation on Agricultural Resources.