Development and implementation of a nutrient management plan is critical to the proper management of vegetable crops with environmental protection and enhancement as priorities. A nutrient management plan should address not only the fertility needed to successfully grow particular crops and manage a vegetable production operation, but should also provide for the protection of natural resources, particularly water. The following are UMass, Amherst, Extension Vegetable Program resources that can be used to develop and implement an environmentally responsible nutrient management plan for a vegetable farm.
Vegetable Production Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Environmental and Water Resources
BMPs are those farm operations which promote efficient use of resources, safety for consumers and farm workers, and economic viability of farms. In addition, BMPs are designed to minimize potential negative effects of vegetable production upon the environment and water resources.
Practices that form the basis of a nutrient management plan can be found in the Complete Checklist chapter of the Vegetable BMPs within the Nutrient Management section that begins on page 18 in the Checklist. The Manure Management section beginning on page 33 in the Checklist provides complementary information.
The BMP Complete Checklist can be found at:
New England Vegetable Management Guide
The New England Vegetable Management Guide has a recently revised soil and nutrient section (http://nevegetable.org/cultural-practices ) that includes the following segments that are useful in the development and implementation of a nutrient management plan for vegetable production. These sections include: Fundamentals of Soil Fertility, Plant Nutrients, Guidelines for Organic Fertilization, and Soil Health. This publication provides more depth than the BMPs, referenced above, and includes tables that are useful for calculating specific crop needs as well as the nutrient value of various amendments.
The Crops section of the Guide, http://nevegetable.org/crops , includes a nutrient management section for each crop. These crop specific nutrient management sections include tables that give recommended application rates for N, P and K for given soil test results (very low, low, optimum, above optimum). The tables also provide recommendations on how to use split applications (e.g. how much to broadcast preplant, and how much for one or two sidedress applications). These tables are an essential tool in the formulation of a nutrient plan for each crop.
The online version of the Guide has been updated as of July 2013, and will be the content of the printed 2014-2015 New England Vegetable Management Guide.
Nutrient Management Guide for New England Vegetable Production
This manual is designed to provide information that will increase and improve a vegetable grower’s understanding about soils by offering insight on soil and nutrient management practices and how they affect soils, crop productivity and profit. In addition to the online version, the Nutrient Management Guide is also available in hard copy from the UMass Extension Vegetable Program office (tel. 413-577-3976).
Massachusetts Commonwealth Quality (CQ) program checklist
The intention of Commonwealth Quality, a brand designed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, is to help consumers easily find farm fresh fruits and vegetables that are safe, sustainable, and produced in an environmentally friendly way by local farms in Massachusetts.
The CQ program checklist includes a section on nutrient management useful in the formulation of a nutrient management plan.
To qualify for CQ, growers must meet a minimum percentage of the practice points in the CQ guidelines established by UMass Extension. The summary score sheet lists 6 fundamental nutrient management practices: