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Nutrient Management for Crops, Dairy, and Livestock Farmers

UMass Extension's nutrient management guidelines
and BMPs for other agricultural commodities and green industries.


Development and implementation of a nutrient management plan is critical for environmental protection and enhancement.The University of Massachusetts is currently developing nutrient management templates for crops, dairy, and livestock farmers. For nutrient managment planning recommendationsView a fact sheet on nutrient management planning for dairy, livestock, and equine operations.

These recommendations may be used by farmers in compliance with the 330 CMR 31.00 Plant Nutrient Application Requirements for Agricultural Land and Land Not Used for Agricultural Purposes.


Nutrients, whether in fertilizer or organic amendments such as manure, are an essential crop input and a major cost for crop production. On a typical livestock farm nutrients are recycled from soil, to crops, to animals, and finally, to the soil as manure. Nutrient recycling on most farms does not form a closed loop and often farmers purchase off-farm nutrients to compensate for those lost in various ways to the environment. Farmers may also unknowingly apply nutrients in excess of recommended rates. For example, some farmers may apply commercial fertilizers without giving proper credit to the nutritive value of their manure. This can harm crop production, incur additional costs, and jeopardize soil and water quality. Similarly, the application of too little nutrients can sacrifice yield, quality, and profits.

Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops in Massachusetts

Nutrient recommendations for optimum crop growth and yield must be based on frequent soil testing. University of Massachusetts recommends soil testing every one to three years and when the crop is rotated. View a fact sheet on the complete nutrient recommendations for field crops.

Nutrient Credits from Manure

Manure nutrient concentrations can vary significantly among different farms due to animal species, size and number of housed animals, feed ration, and manure handling and application method.  For both economic and environmental objectives, it is important to know the content and availability of nutrients in the manure so that the application rate can be determined to match crop need. View a fact sheet on Nutrient content in manure and their availability.


Soil and Nutrient Management Factsheets 

Best Management Practices for Agricultural Nutrients

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are farming methods that assure optimum plant growth and minimize adverse environmental effects. Crops, Dairy, Livestock, and Equine team of University of Massachusetts Extension has developed a series of BMPs for Dairy and Livestock operations.

View a complete series of fact sheets.

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: Download Commonwealth Quality Checklist