Nutrient Management Plans

A nutrient management plan is used to help guide the application of nutrients to land to the benefit of crop production and the environment.  The plan is one step in an overall management process.

Regulation of Nutrient Management Plans

Agricultural operations in BC may be required to have a nutrient management plan prepared.  A risk based approach to require the adoption nutrient management plans is gradually being phased in over the next 10 years.

For the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons, the only agricultural operations that are required to have Nutrient Management Plans are those operations that are greater than 5 ha and are within the Hullcar Vulnerable Aquifer Recharge Area.

Find out if you will need to have a Nutrient Management Plan

Components of an Nutrient Management Plan (NMP)

The description includes the total number of acres cropped under the NMP, number and type of animals on the farm.  If manure is collected on the farm, the NMP should describe the handling system and storages.  If the farm is located in a vulnerable aquifer recharge area, or a phosphorus affected area, or a high precipitation area as defined in the Code of Practice for Agriultural Environmental Management it is noted in the farm description.

A farm map identifies the location of manure storages and animal housing in relation to any watercourses, wells, or other areas of concern.  Field maps identify each field and their relation to environmental risk (watercourses, topography, recommended locations for nutrient application setbacks).  Additional information describes the spreadable area of each field, soil characteristics, and cropping history, in the form of maps or a text/tabular form.

The inventory of nutrient sources includes estimated annual amounts of manure generated by animals (or other agricultural by-products associated with them) kept on farm.  Nutrient sources that are imported to the farm are also accounted for in the inventory.  

Where nutrient sources are generated on farm, the quantity generated is compared with the recommended quantity being applied to land.  The balance of manure generated and applied will indicate if there is too much or too little manure for  the farm’s landbase.

The Nutrient Management Calulator can help estimate the amount and nutrient contents of manure generated on farm.

The core recommendations of a NMP provide guidance for nutrient source applications on every field.  The plan will contain recommended rates, timing, and sources of nutrients which are informed by management history, soil testing, and nutrient source testing.  

Application rates are set by estimating nutrient balances for each field. Nutrient balances should meet the crops’ production requirements and reduce the risk of over application of nutrients of environmental concern  

The Nutrient Management Calculator can help to plan field specific nutrient application rates of nutrient sources.

In addition to field specific guidance, the NMP will include recommendations to address any issues with manure storage, handling, or application.  This may entail changes to practices (when and where nutrients are applied) or equipment and infrastructure improvements.  

For farms that have an imbalance between the use and generation of nutrient sources, the NMP should provide guidance on where excesses will go, or what sources may be used to address any deficits. The NMP should be designed to minimize the risk of nitrogen and phosphorus loss to the environment.

Test results from an analytical lab for soils, manure, or other materials should be kept with the NMP.