Developing performance standards for written nutrient management plans is a three-step process First appropriate performance objectives need to be defined. For example, a common phosphorus performance objective is “to maximize the efficient use of phosphorus for crop and animal production”. Second, performance benchmarks must be identified that provide evidence that the performance objective has been met. Performance benchmarks for efficient use of phosphorus could include a quality assessment of the soil and manure tests used to develop recommendations and a summary statistic of the phosphorus balance on the farms fields. Finally, criteria for evaluating the each benchmark are be developed. Ultimately each benchmark would be categorized as “clearly meeting”, “may meet” or “does not meet” performance objectives. Part of the development process is to identify benchmarks that can be evaluated using information already in the nutrient management plan documentation.
Such a system is needed to help standardize and simplify the evaluation of nutrient management plans. It can also serve as an incentive to operations to adopt practices that are rewarded in the assessment matrix. Implementation of such a system could be facilitated by integrating the assessment process into software tools used to write nutrient management plans.
See more of: S08 Nutrient Management & Soil & Plant Analysis