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NRCS Seeks Comments on 590 Nutrient Management Standard Update

USDA’s Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service is inviting input, until August 31, 2020, during a 30-day comment period on their draft revisions to the Nutrient Management Practice Standard (Code 590). If approved, this Nutrient Management Standard would revise the current Ohio Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) and provide the criteria and considerations required for all USDA Farm Bill financial and technical assistance related to the application of plant nutrients and manures.

“NRCS, with our partners, is committed to increasing the knowledge of nutrient loss risk and we will continue to implement a comprehensive approach to protect and enhance water quality,” said Terry Cosby, state conservationist for Ohio. “The task force is to be commended for achieving consensus, given the complicated issues involved, the need to both protect Ohio’s water resources and agricultural industry, and the need to develop something that was responsible yet practical, simple, and economical for Ohio’s farmers to adopt.”

A broad and diverse 19-member sub-committee of the State Technical Committee (590 Task Force) worked diligently over a six-month period to develop a science-based and implementable farm scale standard that uses the 4R approach as the basis to draw down high Phosphorus soils over time. The revised standard will protect Ohio’s water quality and is practical and realistic for Ohio farmers to implement.

“I appreciate the committee’s work to develop science-based guidelines to keep nutrients on the land,” said Greg LaBarge, field specialist, Agronomic Systems Ohio State University Extension. “I look forward to continued work on site specific tools that help farmers identify better conservation practice placement.”

Summary of the draft Nutrient Management Standard achievements:


-The draft standard will better protect Ohio’s Water Quality by reducing losses of nutrients from crop fields.

-Simplified the language and made the standard more practical and usable at the field/farm level.

-The recommendations align with the newly revised Tri State Fertility Guide and are converted to the now standard Melich III soil test extraction method.

-Developed a more defined path to draw down high soil test phosphorus fields.

-Updated numerical criteria, including establishment of an upper soil test phosphorus limit on manure applications.

-Wider use of in-field and edge-of-field trapping practices was incorporated into the recommendations.

-Updated nutrient assessment procedures and tools identified to help farmers reduce risk of phosphorus loss at all soil test levels.

-Made a commitment to continue the work of the 590 Task Force to improve and refine assessment tools and procedures to evaluate nutrient loss risk.


“These new guidelines include revisions that incorporate updated scientific research while emphasizing that conservation on all farm fields is needed to achieve both agronomic crop needs and protection of Ohio’s valuable waters,” said Jessica D’Ambrosio, Ohio agriculture director for The Nature Conservancy and 590 Task Force member.

NRCS will continue to involve the 590 Task Force and its expertise as the process moves forward through the public comment period, to the adoption and implementation phase.

"We are appreciative of the process used by NRCS to review the Nutrient Management Standard here in Ohio,” said Dr. Larry Antosch, senior director of Policy Development and Environmental Policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “It provided the opportunity for all stakeholders to have a voice and to have their questions answered. The final draft document reflects the viewpoints of the diverse workgroup as all sides were able to come to agreement on the final draft document."

To view the draft Nutrient Management Standard (Code 590) documents open for public comment visit

To submit a comment, email SM.RC.OH.StandardComments@USDA.GOV.

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.