Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Nutrient Management Planning in Texas

Nutrient management planning is important both for economic and environmental reasons. Plants require certain essential nutrients for optimum growth and productivity. Effective use of supplemental fertilizers helps in the production of agricultural food, forage and fiber crops. In contrast, over-application of fertilizer nutrients can result in nutrient imbalances in the soil, promote disease and insect attack, and contribute to pollution of surface and ground water resources.

New laws have been enacted in many states which expand current regulations and/or include special requirements for nutrient management plan development. In some cases, these requirements affect land owners with gross agricultural receipts of $2,500 or more, while other programs take effect on land parcels as small as 10 acres. More recently, programs have been initiated to target nutrient management in urban areas associated with municipalities, golf courses, schools, business and industry, and homes.

In Texas, nitrogen and phosphorus are the two most important nutrients which may become pollutants. These nutrients may originate from agricultural (crop production, livestock manure) or non-agricultural (home or business landscapes, recreation/athletic fields) sources, or more commonly, from a combination of these sources. Currently, two stream segments in central Texas have been identified as impaired by nutrients and have had specific limits, called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), established by the state water quality agency.

Specific federal and state laws addressing management of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) require nutrient management as part of the permitting process. In addition, recent changes in the USDA-NRCS Nutrient Management Standard (Code 590) require development of nutrient management plans in all cases where technical assistance involves nutrient management, including animal waste management and agricultural crop production. Comprehensive nutrient management planning (CNMP) also will place new requirements on animal agriculture for environmental management and protection.

Information on Texas’ regulations and resources (technical assistance, cost-share assistance) available to support nutrient management planning can be obtained from the state water quality regulatory agency, state soil and water conservation agency (TSSWCB), state office of the NRCS or Texas Cooperative Extension.

Important Programs and Resources Available in Texas Include:

In response to these issues, Texas A&M University has developed targeted research, education and extension programs to address both scientific and educational needs. Programs have been initiated throughout the state to target nutrient management planning needs and protect our vital water resources. For example, a comprehensive training and certification program has been developed and implemented to qualify third party vendors to provide nutrient management planning services in Texas (see website below). This program offers organized training events and requires successful completion of an examination, followed by acquisition of continuing education units.

Texas Nutrient Management Certification Program: Provides a program outline, calendar of training events and registration information for state nutrient management certification in Texas.

The Texas Cooperative Extension Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory in College Station provides soil testing services for agricultural producers, businesses, municipalities, homeowners, etc., to promote nutrient management planning.

Enables a search for all publications in the Texas Cooperative Extension Resource Center related to nutrient management or other topics using an author or keyword.

TEX*A*Syst Rural Well Water Assessment Program: Discusses and demonstrates proper fertilizer storage and handling practices to protect water resources.

Sports and Athletic Field (SAFE) Program: Provides resources and assistance to turf and sports field managers in water conservation and water quality protection.

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