Step 8

Land Management Practices to Reduce Nutrient Loss

            picture NRCS

Minimizing surface runoff and leaching reduces the likelihood that contaminated water from fields will enter a surface or groundwater source. Many conservation and land management practices have been proven to reduce leaching and runoff. These practices are referred to as Best Management Practices (BMPs). Voluntary adoption of these practices is encouraged by all livestock producers.

It is not expected that all operations should adopt all of the practices listed. Rather, operators should evaluate these practices and adopt as many as they can that fit within their management system. BMPs should be adopted on sites where the risk of contaminating surface or ground water is high.

Review the conservation / best management practices described below. Indicate which practices are or will be implemented using the checklist and/or worksheet at the end of this section.

This step will help you reduce nutrient loss through best management practices throughout your operation.

To get started, read the complete text of Step 8 (link at the bottom of the page). Then, read over this page, and complete the checksheets. File this document in an organized manner for later reference.

General BMPs 

  • Identify fields at high risk for leaching and/or runoff and don't apply manure or apply at lower rates, and don't apply manure to these fields during winter (Refer fo Step 6).
  • Consider grazing as an alternative to confinement to reduce the need for manure storage, handling, and spreading.
  • Regularly sample manure and soils and calculate manure application rates based on realistic crop yields and procedures described in this publication.
  • Reduce commercial fertilizer rates accordingly when manure is used as a nutrient source.
  • Document all land management practices used to prevent surface runoff and leaching. Both photos and written documentation demonstrate awareness and implementation of BMPs.

Specific BMPs to reduce leaching 

  • Irrigation water management. Maintain irrigation systems and practice good water management during the growing season, especially on coarse textured soils.
  • Don't apply manure, or apply manure at reduced rates (e.g., based on phosphorus), on fields with shallow water tables, coarse-textured soils, or other soil limitations.

Specific BMPs to reduce runoff 

  • Berm fields adjacent to surface water sources to contain runoff.
  • Use application setbacks and/or vegetated filter strips where manure is applied to fields adjacent to a surface water source.
  • Don't apply manure, or apply manure at reduced rates (e.g., based on phosphorus), to steeply sloped fields and/or fields near surface water sources.
  • Apply manure to fields with as much vegetative or crop residue cover as possible, or incorporate manure immediately following application.

After completing this section you should: 

  • Understand and identify land management practices to reduce nutrient leaching and runoff.

Information you will need: 

  • General information about your operation and field features, including aspects of your field's design, and maintenance records.

Documentation to be filed in this section:
Worksheets identifying which land management practices you will implement on your farm to reduce runoff and leaching as well as dates of implementation
Land Management Practices Worksheets

Full Text of Step 8 from USU/NRCS CNMP Curriculum: 

Move forward to Step 9
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