What is a nutrient management plan and what are the benefits?

Ensuring the carefully managed application of all nutrients on farm, including organic materials, helps to reduce the loss of nutrients that arises when the crop is removed at harvest. Careful planning that maximises the efficiency of manures and manages them better can help reduce the amount of nitrogen that is lost as nitrous oxide.

Dairy Nutrition
Organic cows grazing 720

Incorporating organic materials (e.g. composts and manures) plays an important role in increasing levels of organic matter in soil. It can have important agricultural and ecological benefits, such as reducing fertiliser requirements, improving soil condition and biological activity.

What is a nutrient management plan?

A nutrient management plan (NMP) is a written plan that describes how the major plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur and potassium) will be managed on farm. The plan aims to maximise production and ultimately profit from nutrient inputs whilst avoiding or minimising adverse effects on the environment.

What are the benefits of a nutrient management plan?

An NMP will:

  • Ensure that nutrient management meets all legal requirements.
  • Include a nutrient budget which compares nutrient inputs (both on farm and bought in) with all nutrient outputs.
  • Achieve changes in nutrient levels and production (e.g. increasing soil fertility to support a higher stocking rate or altering soil nutrient status to suit future crops).
  • Minimise the cost of supplying nutrients and avoids wasted spending on unnecessary or unused nutrients.
  • Minimise the risk of damage to the environment.