While it is too early to fully develop a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP), it is not too soon to start assembling the components of a CNMP.

Start this assembly process by compiling adequate documentation of manure production and application records, points out John Korslund, DVM, Eagle Grove, IA, pork producer.

Setting Apart CNMPs

Nutrient management plans are sometimes confused with CNMPs. These nutrient plans resemble state manure management plans, which are required by many states, including Korslund's home state of Iowa.

State manure management plans are a large part, but not the complete picture, when it comes to CNMPs, he stresses.

“CNMPs are the road map and audit document in which we develop our planned actions to minimize our effects in the environment,” he explains.

Even though Korslund served as an early participant in a pilot project organized by the National Pork Board to help develop CNMPs, he admits his CNMP is still a work in progress.

Completion of a CNMP is a detailed process that requires manure management plans to be documented and performance to be measured and verified by a third party.

In review, a CNMP includes six categories: nutrient management, manure and wastewater handling and storage, feed management, land treatment practices, recordkeeping and other utilization options such as manure composting or liquid-solid separation.

“CNMPs should be viewed as a continuous improvement loop, just as are most other management systems in pork production,” states Korslund.

As the Environmental Protection Agency rolls out its Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) rules, to be fully implemented by 2007, state manure management plans will become part of the national CNMPs.

Large, integrated pork production systems will use existing staff to help complete their CNMPs. Independent producers, on the other hand, need to find a private agronomist, agricultural engineer or consultant to provide this assistance, says Korslund.

Reasons for CNMPs

Producers who meet the requirements of a CAFO (See “New Feedlot Rule Simplifies Standards, pages 10-11, March 15, 2003, National Hog Farmer) will need to develop and maintain a CNMP, adds Natalie Rector, Extension nutrient management specialist, Michigan State University.

Producers also need a CNMP to qualify for Environmental Quality Incentives Program cost share funds administered by the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

CNMPs are more than just regulations. Rector points out that they comprise a group of conservation practices and management activities, which are implemented as a conservation system to ensure both production and natural resource protection goals are achieved.

For that reason, producers may also choose to develop a CNMP as a proactive approach to conservation.

For example, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is made up of state agencies and commodity and educational groups, which have crafted a voluntary system whereby any size or type of farm can be environmentally assured.

Livestock operations must possess a CNMP to request an on-farm visit by the Michigan Department of Agriculture to pursue the assurance program. For details on MAEAP, visit www.maeap.org.

Moreover, a CNMP becomes a living document that covers the history of nutrient and environmental management, and depicts future plans for environmental stewardship, says Korslund.

He predicts: “In 25 years, most of agriculture will likely be operating under CNMP-like documentation as a condition of doing business. It's in our best interests to embrace the process, share our successes and failures and pursue excellence. The public will accept no less in the long run.”

Data Collection

There is a huge amount of data to be collected, stored and analyzed to make a CNMP document useful, says Iowa producer John Korslund.

Collect actual analyses and measurements of volumes of effluent produced in the past. Take an inventory of crop acreages and/or pasture land available for fertilization.

Talley crop uptake of nutrients, soil type and fertility, along with erosion potential, to calculate the ability of the land base to “safely and legally absorb the application of nutrients from the feeding operation,” explains Korslund.

“As phosphorus levels become the standard for application, along with nitrogen, soil test levels and erosion potential become much more critical in determining the capacity of land to use swine effluent as fertilizer,” he notes.

Once these environmental factors have been addressed, deal with other issues, mortality, emergency management, notification information and air quality issues.