Getting Started with Manure Management Planner

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Getting Started with Manure Management Planner

    Getting Started with Manure Management Planner

    Author: Phil Hess

    Revised: 25-Apr-2008

    Copyright ? 2002-2008 Purdue Research Foundation.

1. Introduction

    This guide describes how to use Manure Management Planner (MMP) to develop a nutrient

    management plan.

    1.1. Contents

    This guide covers the following topics:

    ? Section 2. Before you start ....................................................................................... Page 3 ? Section 3. Using MMP to enter production data........................................................ Page 7 ? Section 4. Risk assessment ....................................................................................... Page 11 ? Section 5. Allocating manure with MMP .................................................................. Page 16 ? Section 6. Developing a manure allocation strategy .................................................. Page 20 ? Section 7. Using MMP to generate reports and documents ....................................... Page 24 ? Section 8. Solving common planning problems ........................................................ Page 27 This guide also includes appendices that cover file- and data-oriented tasks:

    ? Appendix A. Organizing your computer files ........................................................... Page 34 ? Appendix B. How to import soil test data into MMP ................................................ Page 37 1.2. CNMP Development Process

    One way to think of nutrient management planning is in terms of a "process" that you go through

    for each plan you develop. Here are the steps in a typical process for developing and

    implementing a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP):

    1. Lay out the farm with GIS software, including field boundaries, conservation practice

    boundaries, and manure application setback areas, then export this data to MMP.

    2. Develop the nutrient management plan with MMP by entering all production data,

    RUSLE2 data and risk assessment data, then planning all manure and fertilizer applications

    and manure transfers.

    3. Develop the CNMP conservation plan with any production area or land treatment

    conservation practices that are already in place or are planned for the farm.

    4. Generate the CNMP document and the producer activity document with MMP, then edit the

    generated documents to insert maps and additional required text.

5. Submit, review, deliver and archive the CNMP document and its related files.

    6. Implement the nutrient management plan and keep records.

    Note that this guide covers only steps 2 and 4. For help with the other steps, please consult the

    documentation included with the software that you will use to complete them.

    1.3. Other sources of information about MMP

    This guide gives a general overview and introduction to many aspects of MMP. For more specific

    instructions on particular areas, refer to the following documents included with MMP:

    ? MmpGettingStarted.doc this guide. This document is in MMP's install folder and is also

    accessible from MMP's About box. It's also available from MMP's Web site: ? BlankForm.doc this is a blank form that can be used to record most of the data that is

    required for MMP. See also document SampleForm.doc for an example of this form that's

    filled in. Both of these documents are in MMP's Samples folder and are also accessible from

    MMP's About box.

    ? xx_PI.doc instructions on what information needs to be collected and entered in MMP for a

    state's phosphorus risk tool. These documents are in MMP's Custom folder and are also

    accessible from within MMP. These documents usually include links to state-specific

    phosphorus risk assessment documents on the Web.

    ? Nat_Plan_Instructions.doc instructions for generating and completing a CNMP and other

    plan documents. This document is in MMP's Custom folder and is also accessible from

    within MMP.

    ? MMP's help help for specific areas of MMP. Whenever you see a Help button in MMP,

    you can click it to get help for the current window or dialog box. MMP's help also includes

    important state-specific notes.

    Getting Started with MMP Page 2 25-Apr-2008

2. Before You Start

    Be sure to review this section before you begin using MMP.

    2.1. Nutrient management planning: What it is

    Nutrient management planning can challenge even experienced planners. Not only are there numerous differences between types of animal operations, storage facilities, field limitations, crop needs and equipment capabilities, but there are often differences between what various states and conservation partners want to see out of the planning process.

    For the purpose of this guide, nutrient management planning is demonstrating that an animal feeding operation has sufficient crop acreage, seasonal land availability, manure storage capacity, and application equipment to manage the manure produced in an environmentally responsible manner. Theoretically you could do this with a calculator and a piece of paper; in all likelihood, you will probably want to use software like MMP to assist you.

    Nutrient management planning can also be done for farms that import and utilize manure, but don't generate any manure. Likewise, plans can be developed for farms that don't have anything to do with manure, using commercial fertilizer to meet all of their crop nutrient needs. MMP can be used with these types of operations as well. However, since both types engage in activities common to an animal operation as far as nutrient management is concerned, they won't be addressed specifically in this guide.

    Nutrient management planning is usually long-term and therefore can be described as strategic

    planning to emphasize its long-term nature. You can also think of a plan as a feasibility study of

    an operation's ability to manage the manure it produces over the period of the plan. 2.2. Nutrient management planning: What it isn't

    Nutrient management planning in the context of this guide is not the same as recordkeeping, even though accurate records are vital to revising and updating future plans. MMP includes an optional recordkeeping tool that can be used to record daily manure applications once an operation's long-term plan is complete. However, actual records of manure applications are not entered into MMP. MMP is a forward-looking planning program; recordkeeping programs are backward-looking documentation tools. Decisions about manure management made in MMP can and frequently will change as future conditions warrant; once manure is applied to a field, there's little you can do about it except record what was done.

    Nutrient management planning in the context of this guide is not really about short-term decisions either, such as what to do next week or next month, even though these tactical planning decisions

    are critically important to managing manure properly and meeting the goals of the long-term plan. 2.3. Collecting good data

    Collecting enough data to create a good plan usually requires spending many hours with the producer and possibly several site visits to the operation. At first this may seem daunting. After you've done a plan or two, you will become more efficient and the data collection process should go faster.

    MMP includes a blank form that can be used to record most of the data that is required. Another option is to enter data directly into MMP during the data collection process.

    Getting Started with MMP Page 3 25-Apr-2008

Some data is more critical than other data. Section 8 discusses some of the pitfalls to avoid with

    three of the most critical types of data: soil test results, manure analyses, and annual manure

    production estimates.

    You'll find that GIS software is helpful in generating accurate field size and soil type data.

    2.4. Typical use of the software

    Here is a typical sequence for developing a nutrient management plan:

    1. Use your GIS software to lay out field and application setback boundaries and determine

    field sizes and soil types.

    2. Export data from your GIS software to MMP so you don't have to re-enter this data in MMP.

    3. Enter the operation's production data in MMP. This includes field, soil test, crop, storage,

    animal and equipment data provided by the producer. Field and soil test data can also be

    imported see Appendix B in this guide for help with importing data into MMP.

    4. Enter RUSLE2 soil loss data in MMP and run any state-specific phosphorus index or other

    risk assessment tool. This provides a baseline estimate of phosphorus risk without any

    manure or inorganic phosphorus applications.

     Tip: Before you can enter any RUSLE2 data in MMP you will need a RUSLE2 database

    (.gdb extension) for your area. The recommended way of obtaining the right RUSLE2

    database is to use this Web application. See Section 4 for more information about RUSLE2.

    5. Based on the results of the risk assessment tools and other guidelines you develop, use

    MMP to plan all manure applications, manure transfers, and commercial fertilizer

    applications for the length of the plan.

    6. Review the plan by running MMP's built-in and custom reports. In some cases, you may

    need to run the state-specific risk assessment tools again to evaluate your application

    decisions. The results of this step may require you to revisit the planning decisions made in

    step 5.

    7. Generate state-specific reports tailored to meet a range of production and compliance needs.

    These may be MMP custom reports, CNMP and similar documents, or other reports that

    you compose yourself with a word processor.

    2.5. Mastering your computer

    To successfully create a nutrient management plan with MMP, you will not only need to become

    proficient in using the program, but also in using utility programs such as Windows Explorer to

    copy, delete, rename and backup files. Appendix A includes useful tips on organizing your files.

    This guide assumes you have a basic understanding of Microsoft Windows. For help with

    understanding Windows concepts and conventions, refer to the Windows help or one of the many

    books or Web sites on Windows.

    2.6. Terminology and assumptions

    Make sure that you understand what MMP means by the various terms discussed below before

    using it.

    Getting Started with MMP Page 4 25-Apr-2008

2.6.1. Field

    For the purposes of nutrient management planning, a field can be defined as the largest unit of

    land that has the following characteristics:

    ? Same crop rotation, yield goals, and tillage.

    ? Can be represented by a single soil test sample. Extension fertilizer recommendation

    guidelines often limit this to 20-25 acres per soil sample, but this may differ from state to


    ? If the field will receive manure, the spreadable (non-setback) part of the field can be

    completely and uniformly manured in the same month, with the entire spreadable area

    receiving similar amounts of available manure nutrients.

    Your state may also have guidelines regarding the definition of a field for conservation or nutrient

    management planning.

    In general, all parts of a field are managed the same in the context of nutrient management

    planning. However, sometimes you may need to subdivide fields into smaller units than what you

    might come up with based on the above criteria. Here are some examples of cases where

    additional subdividing makes sense:

    ? If differences in soil type within a field result in different fertilizer recommendations, then it

    probably makes sense to subdivide the field by dominant soil type into manageable subfields.

    GIS software makes this easy since the soil type boundaries from the county's digitized soil

    survey can be displayed on the farm map when you're drawing field boundaries. ? If a risk assessment tool produces different results for significant acres depending on the part

    of the field that's assessed, then it probably makes sense to subdivide the field. This could

    result from differences in slope, distance to water body, or other field or soil characteristics

    used by the risk assessment tool.

    ? Areas of a field in filter strips and other conservation buffers that are planted to a different

    crop than the rest of the field should always be treated as separate subfields. ? Although technically the part of a field within a manure application setback is managed

    differently (cannot receive manure) from the spreadable part of the field (can receive manure),

    MMP and GIS software allow these areas to be treated together as the same field due to the

    irregular field boundaries that often result if subdivided. However, you can subdivide these

    fields into spreadable and non-spreadable subfields if you want. Again, GIS software makes

    this easy since it displays the outline of the setback areas on the farm map when you're

    drawing field boundaries.

    2.6.2. Field identification system

    You can use whatever system you want to identify fields in MMP. For each field, you enter a

    main field ID and an optional subfield ID. The subfield ID is useful if you've subdivided a field in

    order to manage the subfields differently. The only requirement is that the combined field ID and

    subfield ID must be unique within the plan. Note that you don't have to use subfields, although

    they can be extremely useful if you need to subdivide fields as discussed previously. You can also

    enter an optional farm ID for each field, although this is not used in field identification within


    Here are two common ways of identifying fields in MMP:

    Getting Started with MMP Page 5 25-Apr-2008

    ? Farmer's field naming system, with subfields if you need to subdivide the fields. You can also

    enter each field's FSA farm, tract and field number in the columns provided for use as a

    secondary field ID.

    ? FSA tract and field. For example, you can combine a field's FSA tract and field numbers and

    enter this as the main field ID and reserve the subfield ID for when you need to subdivide

    FSA fields. Or you could enter the FSA tract number as the main field ID and combine the

    FSA field number and any subfield number for use as the subfield ID. Note: MMP uses the terms field ID and subfield ID, whereas GIS software may use the terms

    field name and subfield name.

    2.6.3. Storage facility

    In MMP, a storage facility is any collection of manure that can be represented by a single manure

    analysis and a single annual manure production estimate for the period of the plan. If a physical

    storage facility (lot, pit, etc.) cannot meet these requirements, you may want to consider dividing it into multiple storages in MMP. For example, if the manure's concentration changes

    significantly during the course of the year, you may want to define a storage facility for each

    season. In conjunction with subdividing the storage, you'll also want to divide the animals into

    seasonal groups, targeting each group's manure to a different storage. In this way, each season

    can have its own manure analysis and annual manure production estimate. Use the Notes columns

    on the Storage and Animals panels to document these divisions.

    Tip: If the operation will be importing manure from another operation, be sure to define one or more storages for this imported manure. For more information, see MMP's help.

    Tip: If a new storage will be added to the operation during the period of the plan, you can handle this in two different ways. The first way would be to do two plans, one for the period before the

    new storage comes on-line and a second plan for the period after the new storage comes on-line.

    Another approach would be to do a single plan that includes the anticipated storage and then just

    "export" the new storage's manure from the period before it comes on-line. Be sure to document

    these "exports" to make it clear that this is manure that never existed and is only being "exported" so that the storage inventory numbers make sense. Also, be aware of state guidelines regarding

    changes to the operation that may affect the nutrient management plan.

    2.6.4. Animal group

    In MMP, an animal group is any logical collection of animals that generate manure that will be

    managed. Animals can be divided into groups by species, production phase, physical location on

    the operation, or season. For example, with dairy cows that are housed part of the year where all

    manure will be collected and on pasture part of the year where only a portion of the manure is

    collected, it makes sense to divide these cows into two groups. That way each group can have

    different characteristics. The manure produced by each group can be targeted to different storage

    facilities as well.

    2.6.5. Equipment

    Like storages and animals, equipment can be defined in multiple ways. For example, if the same

    tanker will be used both for injecting and surface applying manure, you can define it twice. That

    way, each equipment definition can have a different minimum application rate and application


    Getting Started with MMP Page 6 25-Apr-2008

3. Using MMP to Enter Production Data

    MMP is the "core" program where you create and enter manure management plan data or add to

    the field data brought over from GIS software.

    3.1. What you'll need to run MMP

    ? The latest version of MMP can be downloaded from

    ? The operation's production and inventory data that you'll enter in MMP. This includes data

    about fields, soil tests, crop rotation, manure storage facilities, animal types and numbers, and

    application equipment. GIS software can determine some of the field data such as acreage

    and soil type. If you're not using a GIS with MMP, you'll need a soil survey map to determine

    each field's predominant soil.

    ? You do not need any additional software to create a manure management plan with MMP.

    However, several of MMP's custom reports and tools require Microsoft Office. These

    optional custom reports and tools are discussed in Section 7.

    3.2. Installing MMP

    Run the MMP installer, SetupMMP_xxxx.exe (where xxxx is the program release number). You

    can install MMP anywhere you want. By default, MMP will be installed in C:\Program Files (or

    C:\Program Files\USDA on USDA-NRCS computers).

    Tip: If you have an earlier version of MMP installed, it's always best to uninstall it before installing the latest version. Note that uninstalling MMP and installing the latest version does not delete any MMP plan files you might have created. Select Start | Settings | Control Panel to open

    the Windows Control Panel, then double-click Add/Remove Programs. In the Add/Remove

    Programs dialog box, select the previous version of MMP to uninstall and click the Add/Remove

    button, then follow the instructions.

    Tip: Unless you tell it otherwise, MMP's installer will install its files for all supported states. You can uncheck the states you won't use. This will reduce the amount of disk space that MMP will

    take up. However, it also means you won't be able to open example plans for those states. If you

    have plenty of disk space, it never hurts to install all supported states.

    3.3. Running MMP

    To start MMP, select the MMP item from the Windows Programs menu. If your computer has an

    MMP icon on the desktop, you can also double-click the icon to start MMP.

    When MMP runs, it displays a row of buttons at the bottom of its main window. Click the New

    button to create a new plan or click Open to select an existing plan file that you created

    previously. Once you've created or opened a plan, MMP displays the plan's General panel, the

    first of several panels where you enter data. The screenshot on the next page shows what the

    General panel looks like for one of MMP's sample plans.

    Getting Started with MMP Page 7 25-Apr-2008

3.4. Ten steps to getting started quickly with MMP

    1. Use MMP's help whenever you're uncertain about what to enter or how to proceed. Just

    press the F1 key to get help for the current command button, data panel, or dialog box. With

    a dialog box, you can also click its Help button. To see a list of major help topics, click the

    Help button at the bottom of MMP's main window.

    2. Click the New button at the bottom of MMP's main window to create a new manure

    management plan for entering your own plan data. Click the Open button to resume editing

    a previously saved plan.

    3. Once you've created a new plan or opened an existing plan, MMP displays the plan's

    General data panel, the first of several panels where you'll enter plan data. On the panel are

    input boxes where you enter data. Press the Tab or Enter key to move to the next input box

    and Shift+Tab to move to the previous input box, or click on an input box to jump to it.

    When you move to a different input box, MMP displays information about the input box on

    the status bar at the bottom of the main window.

    4. At the top of the panel are tabs labeled General, Fields, Soil Tests, and so on. Click on a

    tab to view its corresponding data panel.

    5. Enter as much data as you can for your plan. You can always come back later and fill in

    the rest.

    6. To save your plan to a file, click the Save button. To save your plan under another name

    (for example, to save a previous version or backup copy of your plan), click the Save As


    Getting Started with MMP Page 8 25-Apr-2008

    7. To check your data, click the Tools button and click Check Plan's Data For

    Completeness on the Tools dialog box's Reports panel.

    8. To generate a report showing your fields' nutrient needs, click the Tools button and click

    Report Annual Field Nutrient Needs.

    9. Use the Nutrient Mgmt panel to plan manure applications, manure transfers, and

    commercial fertilizer applications for each year in the plan.

    10. To generate a report showing your fields' nutrient balance as a result of the planned

    manure and fertilizer applications you entered on the Nutrient Mgmt panel, click the Tools

    button and click Report Field Nutrient Balance. 3.5. Quick tips on entering data

    1. F1 for help. If in doubt about what to enter, press the F1 key to display help for the current

    data panel or dialog box. If you don't know how to use help with Windows, press the F1 key

    from within help.

    2. Status bar hints. When entering data, the status bar at the bottom of the main window

    displays a brief description of the type of data expected for the current input box or grid

    column. If in doubt about what to enter, glance down at the status bar for a hint.

    3. Undo. To undo typing changes that you've made to an input box, press Ctrl+Z. Note that

    this works only if you haven't moved from the input box. You can also right-click on the

    input box and choose Restore from the popup menu to undo typing changes.

    4. Copy and paste. To speed up entering the same data into several different input boxes,

    press Ctrl+C to copy the highlighted contents of an input box to the Windows clipboard.

    Then move to a different input box and press Ctrl+V to paste the clipboard contents into

    that input box. You can also right-click on an input box and choose Copy or Paste from the

    popup menu.

    5. Operating a pick list. To pull down a pick list with the mouse, click the arrow on the right

    side of the pick list box. To close the pick list without selecting anything, click the arrow

    again or click anywhere outside the pick list. With the keyboard, press Alt+ to pull down

    the list. Press Alt+ again to close the list.

    6. Pick list shortcut. To speed up entering data with a pick list, type the first letter of the

    desired item's name to select the first item that starts with that letter. If there's more than one

    item starting with that letter, you can continue typing that letter to cycle through the items.

    Note that this works even if the list is not pulled down. For example, when selecting crops,

    you can simply type C to select Corn without even pulling down the list. (When cycling

    through the list, don't pause between keystrokes. If you pause, the search is reset. Also, if

    you type quickly, you can continue typing additional letters of the desired item to jump to it.

    For example, quickly type CR to select CRP.)

    7. Blanking out a pick list. To blank out a pick list box, scroll to the top of the list and

    choose the first item, which will either be blank or, if the pick list is in a grid, (None). With

    a grid pick list, you can also just press the spacebar to select (None) without pulling down

    the list.

    8. Sorting a data entry grid. To sort the Fields, Soil Tests, Storage, Animals, Analysis or

    Equipment grid, simply right-click on the header row of the column you want to sort the

    grid by and choose Sort Ascending or Sort Descending from the popup menu. Getting Started with MMP Page 9 25-Apr-2008

9. Deleting or inserting a field. To delete a field or insert a new field, on the Fields panel

    right-click the indicator column (?) of the field you want to delete or the row where you

    want to insert a new field. Choose Delete Field or Insert Field from the popup menu. 10. County. In the County pick list, be sure to select the county where the crop fields are

    located, not the county of the operation's mailing address.

    11. Irrigation. Since irrigation affects fertilizer recommendations in some states, be sure to

    indicate if a field is irrigated by checking the Irrigation column for the field on the Fields


    12. Cover crop. If a field will have a non-harvested cover crop, scroll to the right on the

    Crops panel and select it in the Planned Cover Crop column for each year that it will be

    planted. Do not enter a yield goal. Note that fall-seeded single-cropped small grains that

    will be harvested the next year should be selected in the Planned Crop column.

    13. Proofing data. Enter as much of the operation's data as you can, then click the Tools

    button and click Check Plan's Data For Completeness to see if any required data is

    missing or if there are any inconsistencies in what you've entered. To check if you've

    entered enough soil test data, look at the Default N Rec, Default P2O5 Rec and Default

    K2O Rec columns on the Crops panel. If any of these is blank for a crop, then some of the

    field's soil test data (or the crop's yield goal) is missing.

    14. Close button to back out. Click the Close button to abandon any changes that you've

    made since the plan was last saved. You can use this the same way you use the File | Close

    menu command in a word processor or spreadsheet.

    15. State-specific notes. Be sure to review any notes specific to your state. Click the State-

    Specific Notes topic in MMP's help.

    16. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Read through the list of FAQs in MMP's help or

    MMP's Web site. The first time you read them, some questions or answers may not make

    much sense to you. Go back and read them again after you've used MMP for a while. To

    print a copy of MMP's FAQs or any other help topic, select the help window's File | Print

    Topic menu command.

    17. Reporting problems. If you have questions about MMP or problems operating it, please

    contact the authors. Click on the Reporting Problems To The Authors topic in MMP's

    help for contact information. Contact information is also available on MMP's Web site.

    18. Making screenshots. To take a shot of the current MMP window or dialog box and paste

    the shot into a PowerPoint or Word document, press Alt+PrntScrn. To take a shot of the

    entire screen, press PrntScrn. This copies the window or screen contents to the Windows

    clipboard. In PowerPoint or Word, press Ctrl+V to paste the screenshot into the document.

    Getting Started with MMP Page 10 25-Apr-2008

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