Enhanced Nutrient Management


The Nutrient Management Program protects water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by ensuring that farmers and urban land managers apply fertilizers, animal manure and other nutrient sources in an effective and environmentally sound manner.

Initiation protocol:

Seek guidance from the Maryland Department of Agriculture or the local Soil Conservation District.

Public acceptance:

Highly accepted as a practice as research shows it to be effective in nutrient loss.

Implementation Factors (level of difficulty):

Moderate. Nutrient management plans specify how much fertilizer, manure or other nutrient sources may be safely applied to crops to achieve yields and prevent excess nutrients from impacting waterways.

Funding Sources / Options:

Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund is providing demonstration funding and technical staff to work with farmers. A Farm Bill program provides a per acre payment for adoption of management option on the farms.


Costs estimated as $ per acre of practice installed. 

Cost Estimates EPA MDA Average
Initial $- $- $-
Annual $37 $10 $23.50
Lifespan (yrs) 1 1 1
Annualized $37 $10 $23.50

Load Reduction Efficiency:

Average Total Nitrogen removed per acre of practice per year


0.77 lbs.


1.14 lbs.


3.42 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $3 and $13

Average Total Phosphorous removed per acre of practice per year


0.02 lbs.


0.06 lbs.


0.17 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $59 and $500

Average Total Suspended Solids removed per acre of practice per year


1 lbs.


2 lbs.


4 lbs.

Cost per pound removed = between $2.50 and $10

Operation & Maintenance:

Farmers are required to submit copies of their initial nutrient management plans to the Nutrient Management Program, update plans before they expire, take new soil samples a minimum of once every three years, obtain manure analyses (if using manure) at least every other year, and submit annual implementation reports documenting how they implemented their plans during the previous year.

Climate Change Considerations:


Planning Questions to Consider:

Modifications to the MDA’s nutrient management regulations took effect Jan. 3, 2017.

Technical Notes:

MDA trains and certifies qualified applicants to provide farmers with nutrient management plans that maximize crop yields while minimizing nutrient losses to the environment.


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