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Nutrient Best Management Practices

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Agricultural producers as well as turf and landscape practitioners in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are advised to stay up to date with changing nutrient management requirements in the state.

Chapter 262 of the Acts of 2012 authorized the enactment of new statewide nutrient management regulations by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR). The text of the enabling legislation can be found at:

Chapter 262 requires MDAR to ensure that subsequent regulations relative to plant nutrients are consistent with UMass Extension’s published information, educational materials and other public outreach programs relative to nutrient management and fertilizer. UMass Extension in 2013 conducted a thorough review of the body of available technical information in regard to nutrients and fertilizers to verify that all published standards were sound and up-to-date.  Nutrient management information compiled in conjunction with this review can be found below under the 'UMass Extension Nutrient Best Management Practices' heading.

In response to the enabling legislation, MDAR developed and wrote regulation 330 CMR 31.00: Plant Nutrient Application Requirements for Agricultural Land and Land Not Used for Agricultural Purposes. The regulation gives MDAR state-wide authority to regulate and enforce the registration and application of plant nutrients including, but not limited to, fertilizer, manure and micronutrients.  The Cape Cod Commission, Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and Nantucket Commission have the option to adopt their own ordinances in regard to nutrients and fertilizers, but they cannot be less restrictive than the state regulation.

Nutrient regulations in process as of May 2015:


  • Massachusetts state-wide regulation (330 CMR 31.00): Proposed regulation was released and public comment was taken from February 2014 through July 4, 2014. The proposed regulation as developed by MDAR: pdf icon

Please note that as of May 2015 neither the final regulation nor a projected effective date has been released. For further information contact the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture at (617) 626-1700.

Cape Cod

  • Cape Cod Commission: Model bylaw has been developed, adoption is at the discretion of individual communities in the district.

Final Cape Cod model bylaw: pdf icon

For more information: or (508) 362-3828

  • The following Cape Cod municipalities, under the purview of the Cape Cod Commission, have either passed ordinances regarding the application of fertilizer or had ordinances ‘grandfathered’ in. For more information on the details and status of these regulations contact the appropriate entity in each community.

Barnstable*: Town Council. Regulation: pdf icon

Brewster: Town Administrator and Board of  Selectmen.

Chatham*: Board of Health. Regulation: pdf icon

Eastham: Conservation Commission and Board of Health. Regulation: pdf icon

Falmouth: Natural Resources. Regulation:

Mashpee: Board of Selectmen. Regulation:

Orleans: Town Administrator.  Regulation:

Provincetown:  Board of Health. Regulation: pdf icon

* The towns of Banstable and Chatham have adopted regulations that include certification requirements for certain applicators.  For details, refer to

The Islands

  • Martha’s Vineyard: Municipal fertilizer application regulations are in effect in the island communities. For information on the Martha’s Vineyard Fertilizer Initiative including the towns’ regulations visit: or contact the Martha’s Vineyard Boards of Health.
  • Nantucket Board of Health: Regulation in effect prior to enactment of statewide statute. Regulations require training and licensing of professional fertilizer applicators who must abide by the Best Management Practices for Landscape Fertilizer Use on Nantucket Island manual.

Nantucket regulation (Nantucket Board of Health Rules and Regulations 75.00, Content and Application of Fertilizer on Nantucket): pdf icon

Best Management Practices for Landscape Fertilizer Use on Nantucket Island manual: pdf icon

UMass Extension Nutrient Best Management Practices

Through thoughtful nutrient management planning and the implementation of appropriate best management practices (BMPs), agricultural producers, land and property managers and others can manage farming operations and the properties under their care profitably and with protection of natural resources, particularly water, as a priority. The following are UMass Amherst Extension resources intended to provide practitioners and others involved in the management of soil fertility and plant nutrients with sound, up-to-date technical information.

Nutrient Best Management Practices for:

Other resources: UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Lab