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Nutrient management plans for livestock producers

Jose A. Hernandez
Extension Educator, University of Minnesota Extension

March 9, 2013

With the increases in fertilizer prices during the last few years, manure should not be considered a waste product requiring disposal. Rather, it should be stored, handled and applied with the same care given to expensive commercial fertilizers. Manure, when applied properly, can provide considerable savings in fertilizer purchases. If over-applied, nutrients will be wasted and surface and ground waters can be negatively impacted.

A nutrient management plant tell you:

Agency plans:

Nutrient management plans describe how the nutrients in manure generated at a livestock facility are going to be used during the upcoming cropping year(s) in a way that meets all regulations, protects waters of the state, and maximizes the benefits of applying manure to cropland. It is recommended that all livestock operations complete a manure management plan. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) requires Manure Management Plans (MMPs) in the following situations (MPCA Fact Sheet Wq-f8.07):

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) requires Nutrient Management Plans when producers voluntarily sign up to apply improved nutrient management practices, or when producers receive financial assistance with agricultural waste storage or transfer through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Nutrient management plan components by agency

MPCA (MMP) and NRCS (NMP) Additional items for NMP (NRCS) only
Field maps Plans/fields without manure
Crop rotations Potassium
Livestock and manure information Soil and water conservation practices
Sensitive area identification and management Additional sensitive areas
Operation and maintenance guidance Field risk assessments
Planned nutrient application and nutrient budgets
Field and farm specific records

If manure is applied by a commercial applicator, the feedlot owner is not required to complete a manure management plan. However, if a feedlot contains 100 or more animal units, the feedlot owner is required to maintain manure application records, regardless of whether or not a commercial applicator applies the manure. Commercial applicators must keep a copy of manure application records and provide the owner of the feedlot or manure storage area with these records no later than 60 days following land application. When ownership of manure is transferred for application to fields that are not owned or leased by the owner of the animal feedlot, a manure management plan is partially completed by the feedlot owner and partially completed by the manager of the field(s) where the manure is applied (MPCA Fact Sheet Wq-f8.11).

Producers do not need to submit their plans to MPCA for review unless specifically requested by the MPCA or a County Feedlot Officer, or when applying for a permit. However, feedlot owners may be asked to show an updated manure management plan and associated records when the feedlot is inspected. The manure management plan must be kept up-to-date. The producer should review the plan each year to assess changes in crop rotation, manure nutrient levels, changes in manure application methods, and other factors that contribute to the nutrient availability of the manure and the crop nutrient needs.

In general, the following information must be included in a manure management plan (MPCA Fact Sheet Wq-f8.07):

Producers are not required to use any specific format when writing a manure management plan. They may use forms or software developed by MPCA, NRCS, University of Minnesota Extension, or other private organizations. However, the following resources are available for use in developing a manure management plan:

For more information on about manure management plans, contact your local Extension Educator or your County Feedlot Officer. Additional information is also available from Jose A. Hernandez (phone: 612-625-4731 or email:

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