Dec 15, 2011  |  Today's News

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has revised its national conservation practice standard on nutrient management to help producers better manage the application of nutrients on agricultural land.  Illinois Corn has been working on nutrient application best management practices as well and is happy to see the new standard moving to local instead of national or state information.

NRCS's nutrient management experts worked with universities, non-government organizations, industry and others to revise the standard to ensure it is scientifically sound. Key changes in the standard include expanding the use of technology to streamline the nutrient management process and allowing states more flexibility in providing site-specific nutrient management planning using local information when working with producers. NRCS staff offices will have until Jan. 1, 2013 to comply with erosion, nitrogen and phosphorus criteria for their state nutrient management standard.

Proper application of nitrogen and phosphorus offers tremendous benefits to producers and the public, including cost savings to the producer and the protection or improvement of ground and surface water, air quality, soil quality and agricultural sustainability.

"Protecting America's supply of clean and abundant water is an important objective for USDA," Vilsack said. "This precious resource is the foundation for healthy ecosystems and sustainable agricultural production. USDA provides voluntary technical and financial assistance to help producers manage their nutrients to ensure a clean and abundant water supply while maintaining viable farm and ranch operations."

The nutrient management conservation practice is an important tool in the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation toolbox. The agency's staff uses this conservation practice to help farmers and ranchers apply their nutrients more efficiently. Proper management of nitrogen and phosphorus, including the use of organic sources of nitrogen such as animal manure, legumes and cover crops, can save producers money. The nutrient management standard provides a roadmap for NRCS's staff and others to help producers apply available nutrient sources in the right amount, from the right source, in the right place, at the right time for maximum agricultural and environmental benefits.

NRCS offers voluntary technical and financial assistance to producers nationwide for planning and implementing on-farm nutrient management plans. Producers can use this assistance to help meet federal, state, tribal and local environmental regulations.

Visit the NRCS nutrient and pest management webpage to learn more about how nutrient management fits into NRCS's conservation work.