Nutrient Management

​​Nutrient management refers to the use of manure and other fertilizers to meet crop nutrient needs, while reducing the potential for them to run off fields to lakes, streams and groundwater. It helps assure that crops get the right amount of nutrients -- nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, often referred to as N-P-K -- at the right time and place. This benefits the farmer by improving crop yields and reducing costs, and benefits the environment by keeping nutrients on fields and preventing them from running off to streams or down to groundwater.

Nutrient management planning requires testing both soil and manure to learn what the nutrient content is. Nutrient management plans must meet requirements:

  • In ATCP 50, which is a state regulation that lays out how farmers meet standards, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection
  • In NR 151, a state regulation that sets performance standards, enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Wisconsin NRCS 590 Standard, set by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and state conservation agencies, serving as the basis for a nutrient management plan

In Wisconsin, all farms should have a nutrient management plan. Some farms will follow a nutrient management plan if they:

  • Participate in the Farmland Preservation Program
  • Are offered cost-sharing to develop a plan
  • Accept cost-sharing for manure storage systems
  • Are large livestock operations that require a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit
  • Are regulated under a local ordinance for manure storage or livestock siting

More than a third of Wisconsin's 9 million cropland acres are under nutrient management plans. DATCP provides financial help and training to farmers, agronomist and agriculture educators. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed free software called SnapPlus to help in developing plans. Farmers can work with an agronomist to write nutrient management plans, or write their own if they successfully complete training that meets the standards. To find training in your area, contact your county land conservation office or visit the SnapPlus website

Planning Resources

Planning software and other tools

SnapPlus nutrient management planning software and maps

SnapMaps geodata for use with GIS software to create your own maps (click to email for 590 restriction map data and type "590 maps" in the subject line)

SnapPlus training manual

590 nutrient management checklist (2015)

Using SnapPlus to review your plan (2015)

Nutrient Application Guidelines for Field, Vegetable and Fruit Crops in Wisconsin (UW-EX Publication A2809)

Sampling Soils for Testing (UW-EX Publication A2100)


Professional and laboratory services

Available nutrient management planners by county

Professional crop advisers certified by National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants

Crop advisers, agronomists and soil scientists certified by the American Society of Agronomy or the Soil Science Society of America

DATCP-certified soil and manure testing laboratories

Release form for soil test results and farm maps

Application for certification as a soil-testing laboratory


590 Standard and related documents

Wisconsin NRCS 590 Standard (2015)

WI NRCS 590 Standard Summary (2015)

WI NRCS 590 Checklist (2015)

WI NRCS 590 Technical Note and appendices 2-3 (2015)

WI NRCS 590 Technical Note appendix 1 (2015)


Technical documents for planning professionals

Wisconsin Procedures for Soil Testing, Plant Analysis, and Feed/Forage Analysis

Recommended Methods of Manure Analysis (UW-EX Publication A3769)



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