The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is partnering with Southern States Cooperative to encourage nutrient management planning on Virginia farms.
Nutrient management planning involves matching soil inputs with crop needs. The practice can make farming operations more efficient and improve growing conditions by ensuring crops don’t receive more fertilizer than they need.
Nutrient management planning can also benefit water quality by reducing amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution that run off into local waterways when it rains.
“I am pleased that Southern States will lend its expertise to encourage nutrient management planning across Virginia,” DCR Director Clyde E. Cristman said. “Private-sector support is essential to getting the word out about this beneficial practice. DCR values the time and effort Southern States is investing in this partnership.”
Through its agronomy sales teams, Southern States will advise growers, where possible, about the benefits of nutrient management and how to get a plan. Nutrient management plans are developed by plan writers who are trained and certified by DCR, the commonwealth’s lead agency for agricultural conservation.
“Nutrient management planning is the kind of practice Southern States embraces,” Southern States President and CEO Jeff Stroburg said. “It aligns with our company’s goal to recommend products and services that are agronomically sound, cost-effective and environmentally responsible.”
Nutrient management plans are site-specific and based on factors such as soil and manure samples, timing and rate of applications, and yield records. Financial incentives for plan development may be available through local soil and water conservation districts.
Nutrient management plans are a voluntary best management practice for most farms in Virginia. Certain permitted animal operations and some farms enrolled in the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practice Cost-Share Program are required to be under a nutrient management plan.
Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay restoration plan — the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan, released in August — calls for nutrient management on 85 percent of Virginia cropland in the bay watershed by 2025.
For information about nutrient management plans, contact a DCR specialist.