USDA tightens fertilizer application requirements

This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a revised National Conservation Practice Standard for nutrient management. This is a directive to agricultural advisors and those providing advice to farmers with the objective of helping producers better manage the application of nitrogen and phosphorus on agricultural land, improve crop results and reduce environmental impacts of nutrients and fertilizers. It applies to land application of natural and synthetic fertilizers as well as nutrients from such sources as sewage sludge.

The Standard includes numerous requirements, including:

  • comprehensive nutrient budgets and risk assessments for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium;
  • mandatory soil tests;
  • limits on application rates for these nutrients;
  • specified measures to reduce air pollution;
  • modification of animal feed diets to reduce the nutrient content of manure; and
  • mandatory aerial site photograph(s)/imagery or site map(s) in nutrient management plans.

The new Standard, along with other associated documents, can be found at

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