Step 1

picture NRCS

Assessment and Information Gathering

The first and perhaps most important step in nutrient management planning is to assess your operation and current manure management practices.

This step will help you develop an environmental policy statement, will help you to assess your property, and help you gather other necessary information that you will need to complete your CNMP.

To get started, read the complete text of Step 1 (link at the bottom of the page). Then, read over this page, follow links to helpful information, and complete the forms and lists. File these documents in an organized manner for later reference.
After completing this section you should:

  • Have developed an environmental policy statement for your operation.
  • Have completed an assessment of your operation and developed a prioritize list of what improvements, if any, need to be made to be in environmental compliance and minimize negative environmental impacts.
  • Have gathered the information required to complete the subsequent steps in developing a CNMP

Documentation filed in the section:

1. Environmental policy statement : An environmental policy helps you identify those environmental factors that are important to your operation.

As you develop an environmental policy statement, take a step back from the more narrowly defined CNMP and look at your operation in a larger context. How does your operation affect air and water quality, soil productivity, and more?
For more information on how can you improve operations to reduce environmental impacts while maximizing the efficiency of your operation and your profits, see:

2. Completed assessment forms: The first and perhaps most important step in nutrient management planning is to assess your operation and current manure management practices.

Throughout the year are there any farm practices that result in discharges to surface or ground water sources? Some of these practices may be obvious while others may not.

When assessing your operation keep in mind that, according to federal law, no manure or contaminated wastewater can be discharged into any surface water sources, including ditches that leave an operators property. Similarly, according to Utah State law contaminants cannot be discharged into ground waters such as through a leaking storage pond or lagoon liner. There is no minimum volume allowed for a release to be considered a discharge. All manure and contaminated wastewater from livestock facilities, manure storage sites, and land application areas must be contained.

Several assessment procedures (listed below) are available and should help get you started.

  1. The Utah AFO Strategy assessment form will help you determine whether your operation is considered by the state to be an AFO or a CAFO.
  2. Utah Farmstead Assessment Program provides survey forms and fact sheets to help you identify the risk to surface and groundwater from feeding operations and from manure management.

To take a survey, see:

For more information on water quality risks from manure management, see:

3. Prioritized list of improvements and target completion date: Based on your initial assessment or survey develop an initial list of improvements. This list is a starting point in the longer term planning process of improving your operation. Keep the list with your records and update it regularly.

A sample form is available here:

4. Completed survey of information for the remainder of the CNMP: To complete the various forms of the CNMP you will need some detailed information on your operation. Begin gathering this information right away to complete your CNMP more easily.

NRCS has developed an inventory form (simplified version and full version) to help you compile the data you will need for your CNMP. The inventory includes gathering information on manure handling and storage, land application of manure, land management practices that influence nutrient runoff and leaching, management of dead animals, feed management, soil and manure testing.

5. Record Keeping: As you go through the CNMP process, you will be compiling a set of information and records.It is important that you keep these records organized and up to date. Step 12 of this curriculum offers more suggestions on how to set up and organize your records.

More information on record keeping:

Full Text of Step 1 from USU/NRCS CNMP Curriculum:

Move on to Step 2
Back to CNMP 12 Steps