Nutrient Management

Both the community and the farmer benefit from the proper management of nutrients on the farm. There is a balance between applying nutrients that crops need to be productive and not over applying nutrients that leads to runoff into our streams, creeks, and rivers as well as affecting our groundwater.

What is a Nutrient Management Plan?

A nutrient management plan is an inventory of nutrient sources on the farm, including manure and crop residues, along with the nutrient analyses of each of these sources. The planned crop rotation is included, along with soil tests, which are essential to determine the nutrient needs of the crops. A plan and procedure for applying the nutrient source(s) to the crop fields is included to maximize the economic benefit and minimize the environmental impact of the nutrients. Resource concerns are identified and best management practices are planned that, when implemented, will minimize the potential for nutrient loss from the fields and/or headquarters. Additional nutrient crop needs and plans for the handling of any excess manure are also included.

DEP regulations require that all manure storage structures (liquid or semi-liquid) built in PA after 2000 have to be certified by a professional engineer.

Who needs a plan?

Any operation that generates manure including; farms that land apply manure or agricultural process wastewater, farms managing Animal Concentration Areas like barnyards or feedlots, and farms that pasture animals. Use our Animal Equivalent (AEU) Calculator at the bottom of this page to see what type of nutrient management plan you are required to have.

The Nutrient Management Act (Act 38) is a Pennsylvania law that regulates concentrated animal operations (CAOs). CAOs are agricultural operations where the animal density of all livestock, including nonproduction/recreational animals, on the farm exceeds 2 animal equivalent units (AEUs) per acre on an annual basis. An operation with less than 8 AEUs is not considered to be CAO regardless of animal density. CAOs are required to maintain a current Act 38 nutrient management plan with annual reviews. This program allows for operations to participate as a volunteer animal operation (VAO). By being a volunteer and actively following the plan, the State Conservation Commission provides some limited liability for your operation in the case of manure mishandling compliant. PA Act 38 Nutrient Management Website
A 590 NMP meets the NRCS standard for nutrient management, and is required when receiving technical assistance from the District or NRCS relating to manure handling (manure storages, barnyards, etc.) This document looks very similar to an Act 38 NMP, with a few minor differences such as liming recommendations. Because a 590 NMP is phosphorus based, it meets the requirement for a Manure Management Plan required by state regulations.
Pennsylvania Chapter 91 requires that all farms in Pennsylvania, regardless of size, that produce or land apply manure or agricultural process wastewater, develop and follow a written Manure Management Plan (MMP). Farms already regulated as a CAO or CAFO are not required to develop these plans. The standardized Manure Management Manual should be the template for writing a MMP. No certification, review, or submittal is required to write a MMP, and it can be completed by the farmer. However, a MMP must be able to be produced upon request by the operator. The Department of Environmental Protection enforces regulations pertaining to MMP development and implementation. Chapter 91 Manure Management Plan Guidance (PDF) Chapter 91 Manure Management Manure Supplement (PDF) Chapter 91 Manure Management Workbook (Word) Nutrient Balance Worksheet User Guide (PDF) Nutrient Balance Spreadsheet (EXCEL)

LCCD staff do not write nutrient management plans. If you are in need of assistance, you may contact a private consultant to write your nutrient management plan.

All Operations with Animals Need a Plan

What Type do I Need?

The CAO Calculator has been updated to reflect the change in animal weight effective October 1, 2020.

To determine if your agricultural operation is a Concentrated Animal Operation, refer to Penn State University's Agronomy Facts 54.

The Lancaster County Conservation District can also assist you in determining if your agricultural operation is a CAO.