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Nutrient Management Planning

What is Nutrient Management Planning?

Simply put, nutrient management is about making sure that crop and livestock nutrient needs are met, while at the same time, not having those nutrients in excess. It aims to optimize crop yield and quality, minimize input costs and protect soil and water. The principles of nutrient management planning involve applying organic amendments (such as manure) and fertilizers only to make up the difference between what is already there and what is required to meet target yields, which also ensures cost-effectiveness for the producer. It also involves ensuring that added nutrients are available to the crop. In other words, nutrient management planning means the right amount, the right product, in the right place, at the right time.

What are the Benefits?

Nutrient Management Planning helps to:

  • optimize use of on-farm nutrients
  • prevent excessive nutrient build-up
  • reduce fertilizer costs
  • maintain soil health for successful crop production
  • reduce environmental risks

 

How does it Differ from Fertility Planning?

Nutrient management planning is quite different from fertility planning. Fertility plans look at the nutrient requirements of the crop without fully accounting for the value of applied manure or other organic amendments, or plowdown crops. Nutrient management promotes efficient nutrient cycling on farms with minimal impact on the environment. A nutrient management plan requires detailed farm information on crop management, crop available nutrients in the soil, soil additives and animal nutrition programs. It takes into account available nutrients, thereby recycling nutrients on farm; manages manure to prevent excessive nutrient buildup; uses manure as a valuable nutrient source rather than a waste product; reduces costs of commercial fertilizer; and decreases the risk for nutrient movement to ground and surface water.

What are the Benefits to the Environment?

Excessive use of manures, fertilizers (home owners, businesses and farms) and other soil additives (including leakage of residential septic systems) can result in nitrate leaching into groundwater. In some areas of the province, the level of nitrates in some wells exceeds Canadian drinking water standards (>10mg/L). Nutrient runoff can also result in excessive plant growth, including algae, in streams. In Prince Edward Island, we are seeing the effect of nutrient build-up in our water quality. The Report of the Commission on Nitrates in Groundwater is available on line. This Commission on Nitrates in Groundwater was established by Premier Robert Ghiz in July 2007. By its Terms of Reference, it was charged with reviewing and assessing current research, associated recommendations and available solutions and developing a strategy to reduce nitrate concentrations in surface and groundwater.

How to Develop a Nutrient Management Plan?

If a farmer wants to develop a nutrient management plan, it is best to work with someone who has had the experience of developing a plan. There are also several Nutrient Management Planning Consultants available for hire within the Atlantic region. Representatives from the PEI Department of Agriculture and Forestry (see contact information below) can help you find a qualified nutrient management planner.

The length of time required to develop a plan varies with the size and scope of the farm operation.

Who to Talk to About Nutrient Management Planning?

Agri-Environmental Development Officer
Kyra Stiles
PEI Department of Agriculture and Forestry
P.O. Box 2000, Charlottetown PE
C1A 7N8
Tel: 316-1600
Fax: 368- 4857
kstiles@gov.pe.ca

Manager, Sustainable Agriculture Resource Section
Barry Thompson
PEI Department of Agriculture and Forestry
P.O. Box 2000, Charlottetown PE
C1A 7N8
Tel: 316-1600
Fax: 368-4857
blthompson@gov.pe.ca

 

Factsheets on Nutrient Management Planning Links:

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