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New NRCS standards for Iowa

Beginning in February, Iowa farmers who signed up for new Environmental Quality Incentives Program contracts with USDA, which include nutrient management and other key practices, will need to follow an updated 590 standard. The new standard also applies to any new conservation plans.

Any new EQIP contracts including livestock waste treatment practices, like waste storage facilities, nutrient management or a comprehensive nutrient management plan, will be affected by the new guidelines, says Jay T. Mar, state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa.

“This practice is used to guide producers’ use of fertilizer and manure to grow profitable crops while minimizing impacts on Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams,” says Mar. “Careful use of nutrients is especially important to address hypoxia issues in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Key changes in the Iowa revised 590 standard include:

Use of the Fertilizer Institute’s 4R nutrient stewardship decision-making framework. That is, to apply the right nutrient source at the right amount in the right place at the right time.

Specifies that fall-applied manure with high ammonium content, MAP and DAP fertilizers, and anhydrous ammonia should be applied when soils are 50 degrees F at the 4-inch depth and trending colder.

Adds a “Rescue Nitrogen Applica-tion” section, which provides a method to assess N loss due to weather conditions and describes how to make a supplemental N application decision.

Adds tile inlets to the list of water quality sensitive areas to be protected when applying fertilizer or manure nutrients.

Provides guidance on other conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and other technologies to control and trap nutrients preventing them from being delivered to surface or groundwater.

Requires the use of certified labs for manure testing.

To help highlight all the changes, a side-by-side comparison of the past and current 590 standard is available at If you don’t want to get the explanation from the website, you may also call 515-284-4370 to request a printed copy of the revised 590 standard.

NRCS, working with other agencies and farm groups, recently revised the 590 nutrient management standard after a year-long process to update a new national standard to match Iowa agriculture and resource protection goals, says Mar.

Source: Iowa NRCS

This article published in the March, 2013 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2013.