Whole-Farm Nutrient Planning for Organic Farms

Created with SARE support
Elsa Sanchez | 2009 | 16 pages
PDF (470.3 KB)

To order contact Penn State Publications Distribution Center. Ph: 814-865-6713

Filled with useful detail and valuable reference charts, this booklet acknowledges from the start that nutrient management is often a major challenge for organic farms. And, since soil test results don’t come with specific recipes for applying different nutrient sources, the guide shows farmers how to make informed decisions about the best use of the amendments and fertilizers available to organic growers.  The text and charts guide farmers on how to manage pH, calcium, and magnesium levels,and how to apply nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash from organic sources to satisfy crop requirements without accumulating excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.

The publication is connected with a 2007 Professional Development Grant, “Whole-farm nutrient planning for organic farms.” The project, led by Dr. Elsa Sanchez from Penn State University, supported intensive training on this topic for New York and Pennsylvania educators and service providers. The overall focus was to help organic farmers improve nutrient management through more relevant soil and compost analysis recommendations and use of computer-based whole-farm nutrient planning.

There is also a companion worksheet that helps farmers decide which organic nutrients to use and how much to apply is available as a free download from Penn State's publications service. This decision-making tool shows how to figure out the right questions to ask, get real-world estimates of residual nitrogen from compost, calculate nitrogen availability from last season’s cover crop, and decide whether compost is the best way to apply nutrients.

Both the booklet and the worksheet were developed by Penn State. If you prefer a printed copy over download, you can request one from the Publications Distribution Center, Penn State University, 112 Agricultural Administration Building, University Park, PA or call 814-865-6713.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant:

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.