New Iowa State Program will Assist with Nutrient Management Plans

A new program at Iowa State University will make it easier for livestock producers across the country to get help when developing comprehensive nutrient management plans that are required for participation in some federal farm programs. Comprehensive nutrient management plans must be prepared either by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employees or a third-party Technical Service Provider (TSP) certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2002 farm bill expanded the availability of technical assistance to private landowners by encouraging the use of TSPs. In August, Robert Burns joined Iowa State's agricultural and biosystems engineering department as an associate professor. He came from The University of Tennessee, where he led the development of a TSP certification program that had been approved by the USDA. His move brought the certification program to ISU. Since the program is national in scope, it will continue to serve individuals recommended for certification by the Tennessee program. "Because of the large number of comprehensive nutrient management plans that need to be written, we expect certified third-party technical service providers to play a vital role," Burns said. "Specialists certified through the ISU program will be able to help livestock producers across the United States develop their plans." A new five-year Memorandum of Understanding signed in late October by USDA and Iowa State officials allows individuals certified through the ISU program to be recognized by the USDA as certified technical service providers. Consultants can be certified in the areas of manure and wastewater handling and storage, nutrient management, land treatment practices, feed management and total plan development. Lara Moody, an extension program specialist in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, is the program coordinator. "The ISU-certified specialists can register themselves on a national, Web-based registry called TechReg that is available to landowners, farmers, ranchers and others seeking conservation technical assistance," Moody said. To complete the technical service provider certification program, individuals first must complete a course offered by ISU. The most recent course was Nov. 16-18 in Indianapolis, with 115 participants representing 27 states, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Marinara Islands. The next course will be Nov. 15-17, 2005 in Portland, Ore. During the three-day course, instructors cover a variety of topics including animal waste management systems, nutrient management, land treatment practices, conservation planning, record keeping, air quality, alternative manure utilization practices and technical service provider registration. After participating in the course, individuals must fulfill a list of certification requirements set by the NRCS and then submit the necessary materials and signature pages to the ISU program coordinator. Iowa State is the only land grant university approved by the USDA to offer a TSP certification program in the comprehensive nutrient management planning area. Information about the ISU program is online at Additional information on technical service provider assistance is available at