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Competency Area 6: Nutrient Management and Planning

PO 6. Describe how nutrient demands change at different plant growth stages.

Successful nutrient management planning requires knowledge of the inputs and outputs of a farm system.  Guidelines and calculators have been developed to determine, for example, the amount of nutrients taken up by a given crop, the quantity of excreted animal manure, the type and quantity of nutrients required by a crop, and so on.  These calculations often require soil, plant, and/or manure tests to accurately measure the quantity and quality of nutrients.

Improper allocation of manure or fertilizer nutrients can lead to nutrient loss, a major source of environmental pollution, and pathogen spread, and loss of income on the farm through reduced yields or extra fertilizer applications.  Proper nutrient management seeks to reduce these discrepancies and to develop sustainable farming practices.

All aspects of farm management play into nutrient planning: precision-feeding of livestock, proper calibration of manure spreaders, accurate soil tests, appropriate fertilization of crops, etc.