Agricultural Nutrient Management Program

Manure Spreading copyright Edwin RemsbergMaryland law requires all farmers grossing $2,500 a year of more or livestock producers with 8,000 pounds or more of live animal weight to follow nutrient management plans when fertilizing crops and managing animal manure. Nutrient management plans  specify how much fertilizer, manure or other nutrient sources may be safely applied to crops to achieve yields and prevent excess nutrients from impacting waterways. Because of their complexity, these plans must be prepared by a certified University of Maryland specialist, certified private consultant, or farmer who is trained and certified by the department to prepare his or her own plan.

Modifications to the department's Nutrient Management Regulations took effect January 3, 2017. The modifications add an emergency provision to avoid potential overflows of liquid manure, prohibit farmers statewide from applying manure, commercial fertilizer, biosolids, and food wastes from December 16 to March 1, and eliminate the requirement to incorporate manure into the soil if crop management is under a no-till system. Read changes to Maryland's Nutrient Management Regulations here.


Maryland's Phosphorus Management Tool regulations became effective June 8, 2015. They provide a multi-year process for farmers to transition from the Phosphorus Site Index to the Phosphorus Management Tool. This updated environmental risk assessment tool identifies farm fields with high soil phosphorus levels and allows farmers to evaluate management options to reduce the risk of phosphorus runoff into nearby waterways. Effective immediately, fields with the greatest risk for phosphorus runoff into waterways as indicated by a Fertility Index Value of 500 or greater are banned from receiving additional phosphorus. Click here for the Phosphorus Management Tool Technical Users Guide.
  

Farmer Requirements

tractorFarmers are required to submit copies of their initial nutrient management plans to the Nutrient Management Program, update plans before they expire, take new soil samples a minimum of once every three years, obtain manure analyses (if using manure) at least every other year, and submit Annual Implementation Reports documenting how they implemented their plans during the previous year. These reports are due to the department by March 1. Farmers who apply nutrients to 10 or more acres a year are required to attend a two-hour nutrient applicator course once every three years. Farmers who are certified to prepare their own nutrient management plans are exempt from this requirement. Click here for upcoming voucher training and farmer certification classes.

Consultant Requirements

training classThe department trains and certifies qualified applicants to provide farmers with nutrient management plans that maximize crop yields while minimizing nutrient losses to the environment. Consultants are required to take six hours of continuing education classes to renew their certificates following the first year of certification and 12 hours of continuing education classes every three years thereafter. Businesses that provide nutrient management consulting services must be licensed by the department and are required to file an annual report on their activities. Individuals interested in taking the Nutrient Management Certification Exam are encouraged to attend a two-day training course on the Fundamentals of Nutrient Management. Classes are held in early summer and the certification exam is usually given during the first week in August. For a training and exam schedule, click here.