DCR works to manage both urban and agricultural nutrients found in fertilizers, manure, biosolids and other sources so that they retain their efficient use yet don't impair the quality of Virginia's ground and surface waters.
DCR uses various strategies to encourage proper land application of fertilizer, manure and sewage sludge for agricultural and urban purposes. Nutrient management specialists in DCR's regional offices provide direct technical assistance to farmers. They develop site-specific nutrient management plans to help farmers with manure testing for nutrient levels, calibrate nutrient application equipment, and coordinate soil nitrate testing in agricultural crop fields.
Nutrient management staff members teach farmers about nutrient management practices through demonstration field days, farmer meetings and individual contacts. DCR also develops educational materials, such as brochures promoting benefits of nutrient management planning and best management planning, for farmers.
Our staff works with state universities to develop technology capable of maximizing efficient nutrient use and minimizing losses to ground and surface waters. For example, the development of a soil nitrate test for corn resulted in reduced nitrogen use by an average of 46 pounds per acre on fields where the test was used. DCR also uses satellite based global positioning system data to better account for farmers' efforts to curb nutrient and sediment loss from their operations.
DCR also has a program to certify private and public sector nutrient management planners. Nutrient Management Training and Certification Regulations, which govern the program, were revised in January 2006. The regulations stipulate requirements for certification and criteria for nutrient management plans developed by certified individuals. DCR conducts training sessions and examinations every six months. There are more than 400 certified professional Nutrient Management Planners in Virginia.
The staff also works with DCR's Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance staff and soil and water conservation districts to facilitate preparation of Bay Preservation Act plans. These plans address soil erosion, nutrient management and integrated pest management on farms within Bay Preservation Areas as defined by Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations.
DCR employees are responsible for nutrient management plan approval for producers requiring a Department of Environmental Quality-issued Virginia Pollution Abatement (VPA) permit for confined animal operations and, in some cases, VPA and Virginia Pollution Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permits for the application of biosolids to land. Nutrient management field staff helps train water quality specialists employed by Virginia's soil and water conservation districts. Nutrient management specialists also provide plan writing assistance and support to approximately 20 counties that require farm nutrient management plans in local confined livestock zoning ordinances.
Click here to view a list of available training school courses, exam announcements and continuing education meetings.
DCR and the Virginia Poultry Federation now offer a poultry litter transport incentive program to facilitate the efficient use of poultry litter as a crop nutrient source in areas that most benefit from those nutrients. The aim is to encourage development of self-sustaining poultry litter markets in areas outside the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Through the program, assistance is provided at $15 per ton of litter to help cover additional transportation costs. Click here to learn more about the program.
Virginia has an innovative tax credit program for the purchase of more precise farm nutrient and pesticide application equipment. Recipients of the 25 percent tax credit must purchase equipment meeting state specifications and develop a nutrient management plan for their farm operations.