Source: Iowa State University

A nutrient management plan is defined in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Standard (590) as, "Managing the amount, source, placement, form and timing of the application of nutrients and soil amendments." The NRCS nutrient management standard (590) is the guidance provided to NRCS field staff and other planners when providing technical assistance to producers participating in voluntary programs. The purpose of the 590 standard is to meet the nutrient needs of the crop to be grown, while minimizing the loss of nutrients to surface and ground water. The purposes of a nutrient management plan are:

  • To adequately supply nutrients for plant production.

  • To properly utilize manure or organic by-products as a plant nutrient source.

  • To minimize agricultural nonpoint source pollution of surface and ground water resources.

  • To maintain or improve the physical, chemical and biological condition of soil.

Why have a nutrient management plan?

A nutrient management plan will help manage commercial fertilizer and animal manure input costs. It will also help to improve surface water quality. A nutrient management plan for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) should consider all potential sources of nutrients including, but not limited to:

  • N contributions from legumes and crop rotations

  • Animal manure and organic by-products

  • Waste water

  • Commercial fertilizer

  • Soil nutrient availability

  • Irrigation water