With the consolidation of the livestock industry comes increased concerns about the environmental impacts of large production operations. Of course, every operation should already have a comprehensive nutrient management plan, yet many don't.

"A CNMP is a subset of a conservation plan that is developed for an animal feeding operation," says Obie Ashford, environmental consultant, Columbia, Md. The objective of this type of plan is to help you comply with federal environmental laws.

He notes that a nutrient management plan is a component of a CNMP. The nutrient management plan deals specifically with managing the amount, source, placement, form and timing of the nutrient application. A CNMP includes conservation practices and management activities that address soil erosion and water quality concerns for the production area, feedlot and land on which manure and organic byproducts will be applied.

When you're developing a CNMP, consider the following:- Manure and waste-water handling and storage. This includes components and activities associated with the production and manure management facilities. It also incorporates production information, applicable permits or certification and mortality management.

  • Land application practices. This element involves an on-site visit to identify potential problems and develop a conservation system to address these concerns.
  • Nutrient management. This means developing a nutrient budget for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, including all potential nutrient sources.
  • Recordkeeping. This helps you document and demonstrate that you've implemented the CNMP practices, such as manure volume produced and utilized, as well as equipment calibration.
  • Feed management. Some feed management activities that may help you reduce the amount of nutrients in manure include phase feeding, amino acid supplemented, low crude-protein diets and using low-phytin phosphorus grain and enzymes.
  • Other strategies. Utilizing management practices to reduce weight, volume or form of manure, such as composting or pelletizing.

Developing a CNMP is a complicated process and will require help from trained consultants. For more information, contact your local Natural Resources and Conservation Service office or certified manure management specialist.