Nutrient management plans have benefits for farms of all sizes


By Katie Eikleberry

Nutrition is the focus for active kids at any age, keeping them fueled for sports and making sure their nutrient intake is correct for their individual needs. Soil and field health is just the same: nutrient-focused. 

Nutrient needs

Most of the nutrients applied are dependent on what is needed according to the soil nutrient value. These values within individual fields vary based on nutrient needs due to past, current and future crops and nutrient applications. A voluntary nutrient management plan is an important plan for producers. 

These plans can benefit producers at all sizes, from large crop farmers to small hobby farmers who apply manure and fertilizer to their garden or pastures. 

A voluntary nutrient management plan is a plan for managing a certain number of acres and spreading manure or commercial fertilizer. It allows the producer to ensure they are not applying more nutrients than can be absorbed into the soil, as well as to know what nutrients are necessary to be able to have a successful crop stand. 

With a voluntary nutrient management plan, current soil samples are considered as well as the value of the manure being applied. 


These plans are beneficial from a financial standpoint as well. If a farmer has a manure analysis done and knows the value of manure, they will need to purchase and apply less commercial fertilizer. Let’s face it, the costs of all products are on the rise. 

Commercial fertilizer will most likely always be a need but if we know the value of manure, we can save in the long run from purchasing commercial fertilizer that isn’t getting absorbed into the soil. This prevents excess runoff from applications and assures our neighbors that a plan is in place to avoid excess nutrient loading into the streams. 


Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District is hosting a Nutrient Know How Chat Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

The district will be hosting a help session for producers to write their own voluntary nutrient management plans. The district will have several laptops available, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own if possible. With questions, contact Ashland SWCD at 419-281-7645. 

(Katie Eikleberry joined the Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District team as the fiscal and education specialist in 2021 but has transitioned to serve as the conservation specialist as of 2022. A graduate of Ohio State ATI, she leads the equipment rental program, county planning, conservation status checks, technical assistant, pollution investigations and aerial cover crop program.)


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