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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 2005-2007
Winter 2005 Let's Incorporate Nutrient Management Planning Into Our Service-based Structure Dr. Paul Tracy Summary: State and federal nutrient management planning programs are primarily designed to meet regulatory and incentive-based program needs. For nutrient management planning to become a viable component of the fertilizer industry, our programs need to be developed not only to meet public program requirements, but also to have a much higher level of customer service. There are many reasons why we need to exceed the minimum. Incentive programs tend to be short- term. What will customers do when the public funding feeding trough becomes empty? Most conservation-based nutrient management incentive programs reward landowners whose natural resources are most at risk. Given agency missions of improving and maintaining natural resources, this reward system is logical. From the fertilizer industry's perspective, we tend to work with and target the most progressive and professional land managers. They have often already incorporated highly effective conservation/nutrient management programs into their land resources operation. Therefore, it is only reasonable that our nutrient management efforts be more complete, intense, economically sustainable, and designed to enhance all phases of crop production and animal ag systems. Our goal should be to do so through mechanisms that make it a profitable and sustainable endeavor for the landowner, crop producer and fertilizer industry. Fluid Journal 1 Nutrient management planning has received much attention over the past several years. Most interest has been stimulated in response to regulatory or incentive- based state and federal programs. As a result, many groups have positioned themselves to become involved in nutrient management planning. Nutrient management planning has always been important to the fertilizer industry. It has been incorporated into many corporate mission statements, especially at the regional/retail level. Not only does the industry understand the geological/biological components of nutrient management, but it also has developed the infrastructure required to manage nutrient inventory, transporta- tion and application systems at eco- nomical and social levels. Many segments of the fertilizer industry are also involved in animal production, grain and forage marketing, agricultural financing and whole farm consulting. No other group has the combination of technical expertise, physical capabilities, and landowner access/trust as does the current fertilizer manufacturer/supplier system. Programs/philosophies Some of the questions often asked are: 1) should the fertilizer industry participate in state and federal crop nutrient management programs? 2) should the fertilizer industry develop services to center around state and federal crop nutrient-related programs? 3) what role does the fertilizer industry play in the Natural Resources Conserva- tion Service (NRCS) Technical Service Provider (TSP) programs? and 4) how sustainable is it for the fertilizer industry to invest time, resources, and personnel around federal programs that are often politically driven, subsidized through public funding, and subject to continu- ous change? I believe it is in the best interest of the fertilizer industry to provide minimum nutrient management planning services to meet regulatory and incentive program requirements. However, we need to exceed those requirements with progressive programming designed to better serve our clientele. Regardless of activity level, the industry must find a way to develop a fair and sustainable fee-based structure for the nutrient management services offered to our clientele. Code 590 (May 2001) of the Missouri NRCS Conservation Practices Standards and Specifications defines nutrient management as "managing the amount, source, placement, form, and timing of application of nutrients and soil amendments to ensure adequate soil fertility for plant production and to minimize the potential for environmental damage." Currently (February 2004), MFA Incorporated defines nutrient manage- ment planning as "systems level crop, animal, and land-use nutrient manage-
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