15.20.08.13

.13 Nutrient Management—Required Plan Recommendations for Container or Out-of-Ground Production.

A. Nutrient Recommendations. A certified nutrient management consultant or certified farm operator shall evaluate production cycles and methods and make nutrient recommendations based on at least one of the following:

(1) The label recommendations on fertilizer products for the plants being grown or similar plants;

(2) The recommendations of the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension for the specific plants being grown or for similar plants;

(3) The recommendation from other state universities for the specific plants being grown or for similar plants;

(4) The data from research done by accredited universities on the specific plants being grown or similar plants;

(5) The general nutrition guidelines for similar plants; or

(6) Any generally accepted growing practices for plants under comparable growing conditions.

B. Management Recommendations.

(1) A consultant or certified farm operator shall use the Environmental Risk Assessment for out-of-ground production, as provided in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section II-D, to identify the potential risk to the environment of nutrient movement from out-of-ground growing areas.

(2) For growing areas where there is zero or low risk of nutrient movement from the site, recommendations shall be made to maintain this zero or low level of risk.

(3) For growing areas where there is medium risk of nutrient movement:

(a) Management recommendations shall be made to minimize the risk of nutrients moving to, or reaching, surface waters; and

(b) The consultant or certified farm operator shall recommend that the operator or other person responsible for irrigation and nutrient management attend Department-approved training on best management practices for out-of-ground production to minimize nutrient losses.

(4) For growing areas where there is high risk of nutrient movement:

(a) Management recommendations shall be made for individual growing areas, as well as for the operation as a whole, to reduce the risk of nutrients moving to, or reaching, surface waters;

(b) The consultant or certified farm operator shall recommend that the operator or other person responsible for irrigation and nutrient management attend Department-approved training on best management practices for out-of-ground production that teaches how to minimize nutrient losses; and

(c) Only controlled release fertilizer shall be recommended for use until management changes reduce the risk of nutrient loss to medium.

(5) In recommending field or management unit practices to reduce or minimize nutrient losses, a consultant or certified farm operator shall consider the following:

(a) The appropriate nutrient application methods;

(b) Nutrient application timing; and

(c) Any plant nutrient needs.

(6) Timing of nutrient application shall be as close to plant nutrient uptake as possible, except in the case of controlled release fertilizer, which may be applied at any time.

C. Recommendations for Monitoring Runoff. Unless an operation is assessed as zero risk for nutrient loss from the site, as provided in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section II-D, the nutrient management consultant shall recommend a monitoring program, including the following:

(1) The periods for monitoring when plant nutrients can reasonably be expected to be available;

(2) The locations immediately next to growing areas or areas where runoff or overflow from collection basins enters surface water, municipal stormwater, or drainage inlets; and

(3) The frequency of sampling for nutrients:

(a) Where the risk of nutrient movement from any growing area is low, monitoring shall include samples for testing a minimum of two different times during each growing season or cycle from each location; and

(b) Where the risk of impacting surface water is medium or high, monitoring recommendations shall be conducted monthly when nutrients are being applied.

D. Methods of Sampling and Testing. Samples may be analyzed by the operator or consultant on-site using calibrated electrical conductivity (EC) or nutrient meters. To evaluate the accuracy of on-site test results, at least two samples per year shall be split, with one part being sent to an independent laboratory for analysis.