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Nutrient management planning

A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Water Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit requires a field-specific, phosphorus-based [PDF] nutrient management plan (NMP) that outlines the amounts, timing, locations, methods and other aspects related to land application of manure and process wastewater. Implementation of a NMP helps prevent or minimize manure or other wastewater runoff from fields to surface waters or groundwater. Nutrient management planning also ensures applied nutrients meet crop needs.

Nutrient management planning can be complicated and take a considerable amount of time and effort. One NMP may cover thousands of acres and contain over 100 fields. Planning may be for areas with multiple crops and different soils with different nutrient requirements and limitations. Nutrient management plans require:

  • field soil testing reports;
  • planned or actual application rates, methods and timing for manure and process wastewater;
  • field soil erosion and phosphorus delivery to surface waters calculations;
  • nutrient crediting;
  • maps showing field-specific spreading restrictions and soils;
  • manure spreading field-specific reports and procedures; and
  • detailed plan narratives.

An ATCP 50.48 qualified nutrient management planner [exit DNR] must develop or review and sign a CAFO’s NMP. DNR approval of a CAFO NMP requires submitting a plan that is consistent with all NR 243.14, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR] requirements.

NMP Design: WPDES permit issuance or reissuance

Note: Materials denoted with an asterisk (*) are available in the ePermitting System.

Annual NMP reporting requirements

All CAFO permittees are required to submit to the department annual and daily spreading information, monitoring reports and other information requested by the department on an annual basis. This annual reporting is divided into two reports: 1) Annual Report, typically due January 31 of each year, and 2) Nutrient Management Plan update, typically due March 31 of each year.

  1. Annual report

  2. Nutrient Management Plan update

Substantial revisions to a CAFO NMP

All substantial revisions to a CAFO NMP are required to be public noticed and are posted for a 14-day public notice period. A substantial revision is defined as a change that will increase the risk of pollutant (nitrogen or phosphorus) transport to navigable water. Anyone can view and track substantial revisions that are posted for public notice at the department’s Water permit applications web page. The department has created guidance 3800-2014-01 [PDF] on what constitutes a substantial revision to a CAFO NMP and the public input process for these revisions. Instructions 3800-2015-10 [PDF] are available on how permittees can submit a request for a substantial NMP modification.

14-day public notice for substantial NMP revisions

Beginning April 1, 2015, substantial revisions to a CAFO’s nutrient management plan (NMP) are required to be public noticed and must be posted for a 14-day public notice period.

  • These substantial revisions include new fields, winter spreading plans, installation or identification of tile lines or features, and other changes that have the potential to increase the risk of nitrogen or phosphorus transport to navigable water.
  • Public comments on a substantial changes to nutrient management plans can be submitted via water public notices. Select “livestock public notice” to view the proposed revisions and provide comments.
  • You can also view other permit information by visiting Water permit applications.
  • 3800-2014-01 DNR guidance on public notice of modifications to an NMP [PDF]

Useful NMP-related documents

Annual CAFO workshops

The DNR’s CAFO program in cooperation with UW-Extension hold annual CAFO workshops during the first few weeks of February. These workshops are typically held in various locations throughout the state and cover a wide variety of topics specific to CAFOs. Presentations from the workshops are posted below.


Nutrient management