A new program at Iowa State University will make it easier for livestock producers across the country to get help when developing comprehensive nutrient management plans. These are required for participation in some federal farm programs.

CNMP’s must be prepared either by Natural Resources Conservation Service employees or a third-party Technical Service Provider certified by USDA.

In August, Robert Burns joined Iowa State's agricultural and biosystems engineering department as an associate professor. His move brought the TSP certification program to ISU, which he developed at the University of Tennessee.

"Because of the large number of comprehensive nutrient management plans that need to be written, we expect certified third-party technical service providers to play a vital role," says Burns. "Specialists certified through the ISU program will be able to help livestock producers across the United States develop their plans."

USDA and Iowa State officials signed a five-year agreement in October that allows individuals certified through the ISU program to be recognized by USDA as certified technical service providers. Consultants can be certified in the areas of manure and wastewater handling and storage, nutrient management, land treatment practices, feed management and total plan development.

Lara Moody, an extension program specialist in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, is the program coordinator. "The ISU-certified specialists can register themselves on a national, Web-based registry called TechReg that is available to landowners, farmers, ranchers and others seeking conservation technical assistance," says Moody.

To complete the technical service provider certification program, individuals first must complete a course offered by ISU. The next course will be Nov. 15-17, 2005 in Portland, Ore.

During the three-day course, instructors cover a variety of topics including animal manure management systems, nutrient management, land treatment practices, conservation planning, record keeping, air quality, alternative manure utilization practices and technical service provider registration.

After participating in the course, individuals must fulfill a list of certification requirements set by the NRCS and then submit the necessary materials and signature pages to the ISU program coordinator. Iowa State is the only land grant university approved by the USDA to offer a TSP certification program in the comprehensive nutrient management planning area. 

Information about the ISU program is online at http://www.abe.iastate.edu/wastemgmt/. Additional information on technical service provider assistance is available at http://techreg.usda.gov.

Iowa State University