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2017 Projects: Whole Farm Nutrient Balance Assessment

How does your farm nutrient balance compare to others? How well is New York State doing?

To date, nutrient management regulations in New York and most other states in the US have addressed the Clean Water Act through implementation of the NRCS 590 standard for nutrient management. Losses could be significantly reduced if fewer nutrients were imported onto the farm in the first place. The key solution lies in finding ways to increase nutrient use efficiency on farms and, thereby, decrease nutrient imports and reduce loadings to watersheds. Knowing a farm's nutrient mass balance (NMB) is one step towards improving our understanding of nutrient movement onto, within, and away from the farm. Balances provide a useful and achievable metric for assessing nutrient loadings and potential losses on farms.

Each participating farm will receive its NMB and the summary of all farms to which the NMB could be compared. Active participation by the producers and their advisors (nutrient management planners, nutritionists, accountants) is essential for the development and implementation of BMPs that address the long-term sustainability of the farms. With the development of feasible balances and the optimum operational zone for management (where producers meet feasible balances per acre and per hundredweight), producers and advisors will be better able to identify farm-specific opportunities to reduce nutrient loadings. The project will set the basis for identification of more inclusive nutrient management policies and action plans for the development of BMPs across the cropping, herd, and manure management components of farms.

In the fall of 2011, a new version of the software was released (visual basic based). This new software facilitates data entry and is now available from our website (see links above). If you are interested in participating in a New York whole farm nutrient balance project, contact Quirine Ketterings ( or 607-255-3061). You can also write to: Quirine Ketterings, Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, 323 Morrison Hall, Ithaca NY 14853. This project has been sponsored by grants from USDA-CIG, NNYADP, NFWF, and NESARE.