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Iowa revising nutrient standards

Local nutrient management specialists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa will be working the next several months to update Iowa’s nutrient management standard (or 590 standard). That announcement was made in December after U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced USDA’s revised national standard.

USDA updates this conservation practice standard at least every five years to reflect new technologies and objectives.

Iowa NRCS has until Jan. 1, 2013, to adapt the Iowa nutrient management standard to meet the new criteria and standards. Similar to the national process, NRCS will work with Iowa State University, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, industry, producer and environmental groups, and other partners to incorporate these updates to match Iowa ag and resource protection goals. The public will be invited to comment on any proposed changes.

Key changes in the national standard include the following:

Recognizing the widespread adoption of variable-rate technologies to plan and apply fertilizers, and providing specifications on how to plan and report their use.

Introducing a Nitrogen Leaching Index to help determine where to implement management practices for the most positive environmental impacts.

Providing guidance on using on-farm knowledge to adaptively manage nutrients.

Addressing the risk of applied nutrients entering water through tile inlets.

Directing the analysis of manure samples using certified labs.

This conservation practice standard helps farmers better manage the application of nutrients on agricultural land, saving them money and protecting or improving ground and surface water, air quality, soil quality, and ag sustainability, says Eric Hurley, NRCS nutrient management specialist for Iowa. The nutrient management standard helps farmers apply available nutrient sources in the right amount, from the right source, in the right place and at the right time for maximum agricultural and environmental benefits.

NRCS offers voluntary technical and financial assistance to producers nationwide for planning and implementing on-farm nutrient management plans. Producers can use the assistance to help meet federal, state and local environmental regulations.

This article published in the January, 2012 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.