Iowa State Program Assists with Nutrient Management Plans

October 10th, 2005

An educational program based at Iowa State University makes it easier for U.S. livestock producers to get professional assistance when developing comprehensive nutrient management plans.

Comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMP) 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.

Robert Burns, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, developed a TSP certification program while at the University of Tennessee. His move last fall to Iowa State brought the program to Ames.

"Certified third-party technical service providers are important because of the large number of comprehensive nutrient management plans that need to be written," Burns said. "Specialists certified through the Iowa State program can help livestock producers across the United States develop their plans."

The 2005 CNMP Development Course will be held Nov. 15-17 in Portland, Ore. Participants in the three-day short course will learn how to prepare CNMPs that meet current NRCS guidelines. A CNMP developed for an existing livestock facility will be used to demonstrate plan preparation techniques and attendees will receive an example CNMP.

Burns said the training course participants receive is applicable in any state. A five-year Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2004 by USDA and Iowa State officials allows individuals certified through the program to be recognized as certified technical service providers. 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.

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, extension program specialist in agricultural and biosystems engineering, 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.

Burns said the course also may interest certified crop advisers working with animal manure in nutrient management planning, engineers involved in designing animal waste management systems, specialists providing nutrient management planning assistance and regulators. A team of 16 instructors from across the country will present the course materials.

Under Iowa State's leadership, the course is being offered in coordination with the University of Tennessee, Michigan State University, Purdue University, the University of Idaho and NRCS. Course information is online at


Robert Burns, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-4203,
Lara Moody, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-7355,
Susan Thompson, Communications Service, (515) 294-0705,