Before you commit your nutrient management plan to paper, make sure you have examined it from the following angles, suggests Doug Beegle, agronomist at Penn State University. Doing so will help you write a better plan.

1. Strategic decisions. Have you examined the long-range goals of your dairy farm business in conjunction with your nutrient management plan? Doing so will alert you to any potential conflicts where a decision made today could jeopardize long-range plans.

2. Operational decisions. Will the plan you're considering be carried out on a day-to-day basis? Ask yourself is it practical, or realistic, to expect an employee or yourself to comply each day. If not, re-work that section of the plan.

Now that you have examined the plan for strategic and operational flaws, the next step is to commit it to paper in an easy, understandable format. But remember, a written plan doesn't mean a never-to-be-looked-at-again plan. For success, a nutrient management plan must be evaluated and adjusted continually to meet the changing needs of the dairy.