NMP - Nutrient management plan
All farmers must now have a Nutrient Management Plan to demonstrate that they are using manures and fertilisers in a responsible way.
You have to show that before you apply fertiliser and manure to a field, you are taking into account soil analysis and crop need. It is also important that you meet the requirements of The Farming Rules for Water, and the NVZ Regulations if your farm in an NVZ area.
You can generate your fertiliser recommendation either manually using RB209, one of the computerised programmes such as Planet, or by using a FACTS qualified adviser.
Our independent farm consultants have, for over 20 years, been providing farmers within NVZ areas (and some outside) with annual fertiliser and manure plans. Farmers in NVZ areas have had to invest in 5 months slurry storage, and we have seen over the years how much they have been able to save on their fertiliser bills by being able to target slurry use to the main growing season, without losing yield or reducing stocking rate. And when fertiliser prices are high such as last year, the savings were even more significant.
So responsible manure use is not only good for the environment it is good for your pocket too.
What’s involved in a Nutrient Management Plan?
The starting point is making sure you have up to date soil analysis for the fields that you are farming. Each field (or groups of small fields with identical soil type and management) should be soil tested every 5 years. As part of SFI you must measure the organic matter of the soil in order to qualify for the SAM1 payment, and you must have all fields tested at the latest by the end of the 3 year agreement.
Our independent farm consultants can provide you with sample boxes and give you guidance on how to take the samples if you require, and we will only charge you for the lab cost of analysis.
Alternatively, you may be able to get your agronomist/fertiliser supplier to do the testing for some of the farm if not it all, but make sure organic matter will be included in the test result.
Details are taken of each field in terms of size, soil type, soil analysis and whether it is in an NVZ area, and what cropping, fertiliser and manure was applied to each field last season. We then look at the planned cropping for this year and work out the crop nutrient requirement before you apply any manure.
We calculate the amount of slurry and FYM that will be collected from your livestock over the coming season and work out the most cost effective fields to put the manures on, in order to save you the most in terms of fertiliser purchase and stay within the rules and regulations. We give you a field by field recommendation of which muck to put on which field and when.
And finally we work out the fertiliser that should be applied in order to balance crop requirement.
NMP Sounds complicated!
Don’t worry, we put all this information into an easy to use plan, showing which fields you should apply both the manure and fertiliser on over the coming season, how much and when.
You have peace of mind that crop needs will be met and that, as long as you follow the plan, you will meet the rules and regulations on what you are applying.
The weather makes sure that all seasons do not go to plan, and sometimes you can’t put on the manures when planned, or you need to put it in different places. But a quick phone call to us, and we can advise if what you are going to do would breach the rules, and how to modify your fertiliser applications accordingly.
Keeping Records for NMP
You have to keep records of your cropping and what fertiliser and manure you have applied to the crop each year.
We recommend that farmers use the plan and write the date of the application next to the recommendation (and adjust rate if necessary) as the fertiliser and manure is applied.
At the end of the year, you can then send us the records and we produce a report showing what you did, and that it is fully compliant.
Should you get a farm inspection, you can then show the inspector the plan and actual reports, and if they want more detailed information about any particular field we can pull it out of Planet and send it directly to them. We aim to minimise your hassle with inspections.
If you are in an NVZ area, our nutrient management reports will give you peace of mind that you have complied with the additional responsibilities this entails. This is not officially a requirement of a Nutrient Management Plan, but it is essential that you meet these rules if you are in an NVZ area.
We use Planet software to generate our recommendations as Planet was developed by soil scientists in ADAS and it incorporates RB209 and generates phosphate and potash balances for each field at the end of the year.
Several programmes on the market work on available phosphate and potash in the manure, and do not allow for the fact that some is left over in the soil to be used by the crop next season. Planet does this, thus allowing you maximum savings.
Planet is in the process of being updated to make it more user friendly and incorporate the new requirements of the Farming Rules for Water.
We are delighted to tell you that Janice has been asked to be involved with the development and testing of the new programme, as many of you will know she is a seasoned Planet user!
We are hopeful that Planet will in future allow farmers to easily input their own data, so that consultancy time to generate the recommendation and check that all legislation will be met will be minimised.
What does it cost?
The cost will vary depending on the number of fields you are farming and the quality of the information you give us in order to produce the plan. We can sometimes be looking for 1,000 tonnes of FYM that has been produced but not spread anywhere, and there is no heap on the farm!
We charge on an hourly basis and it's also dependent on the number of fields on your farm.
If you are entering SFI you can receive £652 per year to help towards the cost of producing these reports under option NUM1.