Ceres Consulting


Phone: 023 8849000
Mobile: 087 2804202


Manure and other commercial waste is regarded by some as a waste product, but can in fact be an extremely valuable source of many of the nutrients required for crop growth and development, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulphur (S), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), boron (B) and iron (Fe).

In addition to being a good source of nutrients, manure can also help to improve soil quality through building soil organic matter (OM), improving soil structure, and increasing water infiltration rate and soil water holding capacity.

While manure can be recovered and become a valuable resource, if not done correctly it can also be a source of contamination of water sources. Nitrate can be a serious contaminant of groundwater sources as a result of leaching and N and P can cause eutrophication of water bodies where both are limiting nutrients to the growth of algae. In addition, manure can also be a reservoir of a host of pathogens and parasites that can affect human and animal health. Manure can adversely impact air quality, as it can be a considerable source of odour, in particular during land application.

The key to successful nutrient management (regardless of whether nutrients originate from manure or inorganic fertilizer) is to manage nutrients in order to optimize crop growth, while at the same time minimizing risk to the environment. An operation may adopt a nutrient management plan (NMP) for several reasons:

  • To maximize the nutrient use efficiency and minimize application costs associated with manure usage. To maximize the crop's productive potential and minimize the input costs of commercial fertilizer.

  • To address environmental issues associated with manure application and to minimize potential loss of nutrient from target application sites into sensitive areas.

  • To address local authority & EPA requirements.

Developing a NMP to maximize productivity or to minimize environmental impact will result in a very similar process. Though it may appear that the goals for each of these are mutually exclusive, the end result, ideally, is the same: improved manure nutrient use efficiency, reduced costs associated with manure application, minimization of nutrient losses and maximization of crop production and protection of the environment.

Components of Nutrient Management Plans

A NMP requires both site and operation-specific information, and will provide an operation with strategies to best manage a manure resource, maximize crop production potential and minimize the impact on potential environmentally sensitive areas.

A Nutrient Management Plan can be broken into the following components:

  • Site or field information

  • Manure production information inc. detailed material analysis

  • Nutrient application plan & procedure

  • Land management and application plan

  • Record management & monitoring

  • Alternative options if required as a back-up

All plans drawn up by Ceres Consulting are designed to cover local authority, EPA and Dept of Agriculture requirements. More importantly they are designed to simple and practical, making them easier for operators to follow and implement, thereby reducing the risk of errors.