Effective Nutrient Management Planning

January is a great time to plan for the New Year. If you grow crops or if you have livestock or both nutrient management planning should be a priority because crops and livestock require nutrients. As a producer, managing these nutrients is a key to an efficient operation.

At the risk of stating the obvious effective planning requires an effective plan. A nutrient management plan should address these questions.
•    What nutrients do I have?
•    What nutrients does my operation generate?
•    What nutrients does my operation need? 
•    What should I do to supply the nutrient needs of my operation?
•    What did I actually do to meet the nutrient requirements of my operation?
•    What were the results?

 Soil tests will tell you what nutrients you have. If you don’t have soil tests or they are three or more years old the first step is to take soil tests. Fall is a great time or a break in the winter weather is also an opportunity. 

If you have livestock they are generating nutrients. There are a couple of ways to get a handle on what available nutrients are being generated by your livestock operation. OSU Manure/Crop Nutrient Balance Calculator can give us book values based on type and number of livestock. The OSU Calculator estimates that a 100 dairy cow herd generates 623,000 gallons of manure a year. This manure contains approximately 6,500# of plant available nitrogen, 14,000 # of phosphorus and 17,000 of potash. At last fall’s fertilizer prices the value of these nutrients are $11,425. If we can get those nutrients where the crops can use them the cows can become a fertilizer factory. 

Manure tests and manure storage records will more accurately reflect the management of your operation but either one can be used. The total of plant available nutrients in your soil and what the livestock are generating will give us the answer to the first two questions.

Give me a call if you would like assistance in answering these questions and developing an effective nutrient management plan for 2017. Next time I will write about how to answer some of the others questions that are part of a nutrient management plan.


Joe Christner came to Holmes SWCD in 2001 with experience and knowledge drawn from 20-plus years of dairy farming. He grew up on a small farm near New Bedford, Ohio. His background interest and involvement in agriculture from the time he was a young man give him an empathy and understanding of the needs and concerns of today’s farmers. Joe can assist you with conservation plans for your farming operation, including nutrient management planning and record keeping.  He will provide information on cover crops in your rotation which will improve soil health and reduce erosion. Water quality, soil health, and conserving the resources needed for the next generation and beyond is very important to Joe.  He and his wife, Nina, have two daughters and five grandsons.  He is involved in many areas of service at New Pointe Community Church.Contact Joe at 330-674-2811 or jchristner@co.holmes.oh.us