Skip to main content

Nutrient management plan guidelines

When do I need a nutrient management plan?

In the Waikato Regional Plan the rules for fertiliser application are now operative. 

Under the Rule 3.9.4.11 of the Waikato Regional Plan, fertiliser application is a permitted activity subject to the conditions outlined there. One of the conditions is that a nutrient management plan must be used to plan fertiliser application where nitrogen fertiliser is applied at rates greater than 60 kg N/ha per year. A documented nutrient management plan (NMP) is essential for compliance with these rules.

What is a nutrient management plan?

A NMP is based on a nutrient budget (NB) using Overseer, SPASMO or any other nutrient planning tool that meets the criteria. The NB must document all inputs and outputs, climatic and soil conditions and assess the potential for nitrogen and phosphorus losses.

The NMP then identifies actions to minimise any loss of nutrients from your production system. These actions may fall into one or several of the following categories:

How to create a nutrient management plan

Follow the steps outlined below to create a nutrient management plan:

  1. Produce a farm map which will show: Land Management Units (LMU), risk areas and environmentally sensitive areas. (Understand and document your farm resources.)
  2. Assess the risk potential of the farming practices for each LMU.
  3. Do a NB for each LMU that shows:
    1. nutrient status ( soil, herbage tests and trends) and has a
    2. fertiliser recommendation attached which follows fertiliser best practice.
  4. Develop a NMP that shows how you:
    1. plan to manage any adverse effects that might arise
    2. identify, specify and select the best management practices that will reduce environmental impact on your property and
    3. set timeframes for each action.
  5. Communicate the actions to your staff and contractors.
  6. Action the plan and record the plan’s implementation.
  7. Monitor the implementation and outcomes.
  8. Re-evaluate your plan and adjust to make improvements if necessary (learn as you go).

Who can help prepare a nutrient management plan

There are a number of farm advisors and companies offering specialist nutrient management advice in our area. The level of service they provide varies depending on expertise and cost.

Many of these providers have endeavoured to train and upskill their staff to be able to produce a NMP for specific farm systems. For example, training and upskilling has been provided through the Massey Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre courses on Sustainable Nutrient Management in New Zealand Agriculture.

For further information there are other documents that can help. One of these is the Dexcel Nutrient Management booklet which has easy steps to follow to create your own NMP.

How to find a consultant or company that is capable of delivering quality nutrient management plans

Environment Waikato cannot endorse any particular supplier. However, to select an advisor who is able to provide a NMP that meets Environment Waikato’s expectations ask the following questions.

  • Does the advisor have an advanced certificate in nutrient management or can they give you confidence that they have a similar level of expertise through other means?

In detail, can the advisor:

  • run Overseer or any other suitable nutrient planning tool
  • interpret and explain the results from this tool
  • then outline a specific NMP for your farm system
  • develop a fertiliser management plan for your property
  • provide advice on the management of nutrient hot spots
  • provide you with copies of other work they have done. Is this comprehensive and does it cover the above aspects that are relevant to your property
  • advise on the nutrient related aspects of:
    • soil management
    • effluent management
    • stock and pasture management
    • riparian management
    • cropping management?

This information is valid from 26 September 2006 and will be updated as changes occur.