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15.20.08.05

.05 Nutrient Management—Required Plan Recommendations.

A. A certified nutrient management consultant or certified farm operator shall address all of the elements and use the criteria described in §§B—I of this regulation to determine recommendations in a nutrient management plan. A consultant's or certified farm operator's recommendations shall be consistent with the Department technical standards and criteria as provided in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Sections I, II, and III.

B. Nutrient Rates.

(1) Nutrient rates of the primary nutrients shall be calculated for plant growth requirements of the crop.

(2) Plant growth requirements shall be based on one of the following:

(a) University of Maryland Plant or Crop Nutrient Recommendations, as provided in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section I-B; or

(b) Alternative standards, as provided in scientifically validated data for the development of a nutrient management plan acceptable to the Department.

(3) A consultant or certified farm operator may recommend the use of lime, secondary nutrients, or micronutrients needed for optimal plant growth.

(4) A consultant or certified farm operator may recommend nutrient rates that deviate from University of Maryland Plant or Crop Nutrient Recommendations and alternative standards provided in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section I-B, for application on farm test plots with prior approval from the Department.

(5) A consultant or certified farm operator may recommend nutrient rates based on a single variety tissue sample when used in conjunction with a soil sample.

C. Expected Crop Yield or Production Goal.

(1) The calculation of expected crop yield shall be based upon one of the following:

(a) An average of the 3 highest-yielding years for the crop out of the latest consecutive 5-year cropping sequence; or

(b) If yield information exists for more than 5 years for a given field or management unit, crop yield calculations may be based on the average of 60 percent of the highest-yielding years for all consecutive years that crop yield information is available.

(2) If field or management unit-specific yield or plant production goal information is unavailable or unrepresentative due to the inclusion of new seed varieties, irrigation, or new technologies, a consultant or certified farm operator shall use one of the following:

(a) Any soil productivity information;

(b) The average yield based upon an average of the 3 highest-yielding years for the crop out of the latest consecutive 5-year cropping sequence from nearby fields or management units with similar soil type and management conditions; or

(c) Any data acceptable to the Department.

(3) A consultant shall document what information was used as the basis for determining expected yield goal as part of the consultant's record-keeping requirements.

D. Soil Analysis Results.

(1) Soil analysis results for each field or management unit shall be based on standard soil sampling and analysis methods acceptable to the Department.

(2) Soil Samples. Variations from the standard sampling process shall be documented by the consultant or certified farm operator and may include:

(a) Soil samples collected from larger fields or acreage with uniform characteristics, including soil types, moisture, or fertility management history; crop rotations may be sampled as one management unit;

(b) Soil samples from fields, such as those common to strip cropping, which may be combined if the soils, previous cropping history, and soil fertility management are similar; and

(c) Any specialized production unit which may warrant smaller sampling units.

(3) Soil analysis results for a plan are valid for 3 years, except if the following conditions exist and are documented by the consultant or certified farm operator:

(a) A less frequent soil analysis is required to implement a management system based on new technologies;

(b) The management system does not require any nutrient application; or

(c) The management system requires nutrient application at a frequency less than once every 3 years.

(4) A recommendation for more than one planting season or crop may be made if anticipated soil fertility changes from the following are documented:

(a) Previous and future crop rotations; and

(b) Residual soil nutrients and nutrients used for previous crops.

E. Determination of Limiting Nutrient.

(1) A consultant or certified farm operator shall:

(a) Use the criteria in this section to determine which nutrient is the limiting factor in the application of nutrients; and

(b) Recommend subsequent nutrient management strategies consistent with this section.

(2) Soil fertility shall be used as an indicator of whether nutrient recommendations should be adjusted to address potential nutrient pollution problems.

(3) If the soil sample analysis results show a phosphorus fertility index value (FIV) of less than 150, nutrient recommendations may use nitrogen plant needs as the limiting factor.

(4) Phosphorous.

(a) If the soil sample analysis results show a phosphorus fertility index value (FIV) of 150 or greater, a phosphorus site index or other phosphorus risk assessment method acceptable to the Department, as provided in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section II-B, shall be used to determine the potential risk of phosphorus loss due to site characteristics.

(b) If the risk for potential movement of phosphorus from the site is low according to the phosphorus site index, nutrient recommendations by the consultant or certified farm operator may use nitrogen plant needs as the limiting factor.

(c) If the risk for potential movement of phosphorus from the site is medium according to the phosphorus site index:

(i) Nutrient rates shall be based on nitrogen plant needs as the limiting factor no more than 1 out of every 3 years. Phosphorus rates the other 2 years shall be limited to the expected amount removed from the field by the crop or plant harvest, or the amount indicated by soil testing in accordance with the recommendations described in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section I-B, whichever is greater; or

(ii) Nutrient recommendations may use nitrogen plant needs as the limiting factor if BMPs are implemented by the operator and address site or management characteristics to reduce the risk of phosphorus loss to low.

(d) If the risk for potential movement of phosphorus from the site is high according to the phosphorus site index:

(i) Phosphorus rates shall be limited to the expected amount removed from the field by the crop or plant harvest, or the amount indicated by soil testing, in accordance with the recommendations described in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section I-B; or

(ii) If BMPs are implemented by the operator, and address site or management characteristics to reduce the risk of phosphorus loss to medium, nutrient rates may be based on nitrogen plant needs as the limiting factor not more than 1 out of every 3 years. Phosphorus rates the other 2 years shall be limited to the expected amount removed from the field by the crop or plant harvest, or the amount indicated by soil testing or in accordance with recommendations described in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section I-B, whichever is greater.

(e) If the risk for potential movement of phosphorus from the site is very high according to the phosphorus site index:

(i) No additional phosphorus may be applied; or

(ii) If BMPs are implemented by the operator, and address site or management characteristics to reduce the risk of phosphorus loss to high, recommended rates of application of phosphorus shall be limited to the expected amount removed from the field by the crop or plant harvest, or the amount indicated by soil testing in accordance with recommendations described in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section I-B.

(5) Before the deadlines set forth in COMAR 15.20.07.03 for the development of a phosphorus-based plan, a certified nutrient management consultant or certified farm operator may use:

(a) The requirements of §E(1)—(3) of this regulation as a planning tool to determine if future management changes are indicated by the P index, and if development of a phased-in approach to a phosphorus-based plan should be recommended; or

(b) §E(1)—(3) of this regulation as a guide to determine nutrient management recommendations.

F. Natural Organic Fertilizer.

(1) An agricultural operator who uses natural organic fertilizer shall determine its nutrient value as specified in this section.

(2) Test results for natural organic fertilizer shall be determined by an operator, consultant, or certified farm operator using standard sampling and analysis methods acceptable to the Department.

(3) The consultant or operator shall conduct animal manure or waste analysis as close to application time as possible, or a consistent baseline for nutrient content may be established and used from analysis results taken at least twice a year until a uniform value is confirmed, and then for every second year thereafter to verify its consistency. If significant changes occur, including feed, management, animals, or storage, a new analysis for nutrient content shall be determined by the consultant or operator for the new manure.

(4) Biosolids analysis shall be conducted according to COMAR 26.04.06.09A(13)(d) as close to nutrient application time as possible, but at least once a year. If changes occur in a sewage treatment facility, or routine biosolids analysis reveals a significant change in available nutrient content during the permit period, nutrient application rates shall be adjusted accordingly by the consultant, or certified farm operator, or the operator.

(5) Analysis of any other natural organic fertilizer or organic materials shall be conducted by the operator as close to nutrient application time as possible, but at least once a year.

(6) Calculations for nutrient content from natural organic fertilizer shall consider mineralization rates and plant availability rates for different forms and sources of organic nutrients. Mineralization of organic nitrogen from the 2 previous years of natural organic fertilizer applications shall be accounted for in the plan.

G. Application Method for Nutrients. A consultant or certified farm operator shall consider the following when making recommendations on nutrient application methods in a plan:

(1) Nutrient application shall be made to minimize nitrogen and phosphorus losses to waters and nitrogen volatilization losses to the atmosphere;

(2) Techniques to achieve accurate and uniform application of nutrients shall be recommended by the consultant or certified farm operator and shall be used by the operator;

(3) Split application of nitrogen on soils identified as having a high leaching potential;

(4) Measures to minimize or control nutrient movement to sensitive areas, including natural or existing wetlands, sinkholes, and steep slopes; and

(5) Recommendations shall ensure efficient application of fertilizers and may include crop rotation, agronomic practices, tillage, and cover crop management.

H. Timing of Nutrient Application. Timing for nutrient applications, as recommended by a consultant or certified farm operator and conducted by an operator, shall:

(1) Be as close to plant nutrient uptake periods as possible;

(2) Maximize plant utilization efficiency and minimize the potential for nutrient movement; and

(3) Be consistent with the guidelines contained in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual, Section I-D.

I. Manure Management. When an agricultural operation either produces animals or integrates animal manure use with crop production, a consultant or certified farm operator shall:

(1) Take into account the current manure management measures being used to store, stockpile, and handle animal manure and waste nutrients associated with animal production in order to make appropriate recommendations for application rates, timing, and methods;

(2) Evaluate existing conditions and procedures and advise the operator when manure management changes, such as improved stockpiling or storage facilities, would minimize the potential for nutrient loss or runoff or improve nutrient use efficiency and proper timing of manure utilization; and

(3) Take into account animal manure or waste nutrients associated with animal production and all other sources of nutrients when making recommendations.

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