Understanding the importance of balancing nutrients will help farmers carry out their Nutrient Management Plans more effectively. This plan maps out where, when and how manure can be spread on a farm with minimal risk of phosphorus and pathogens entering a water supply. By adhering to an appropriate manure-spreading schedule, high risk practices can be eliminated. Planners work with the farmer to create a plan that suits each individual farm based on herd size, terrain and unique infrastructure of each farm.
Read this story on Nutrient Management Credit for more on this Payment for Environmental Services (PES) approach to rewarding farmer willingness to spread manure according to a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP).
Feeding and Forage Systems Management
A number of techniques and practices related to feed and forage can positively impact the environment. Some excess phosphorus from farms can be attributed to the purchased grain fed to the animals. Farmers who grow higher quality forage import less in the form of grain and spend less money. Other techniques for protecting water quality are rotational grazing and the use of cover crops, which can reduce costs and help conserve soil. Educational classes and tours are offered to explain and demonstrate feed and forage management tools.
Youngstock Pathogen Management
The risk of pathogens in the water supply is reduced when young animals are in healthy condition. Many health problems can be addressed with careful observation and improvement of the physical environment in which calves are raised. One approach to this type of livestock management is the New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program, in which farmers work directly with veterinarians to assess the health of their herds. The goal is to improve physical conditions and implement preventative practices to keep cows strong, thereby reducing the potential that they will shed pathogens.