NRCS Practice Standard: Forage Harvest Management (511)

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NRCS Practice Standard: Forage Harvest Management (511)

About the Company:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s primary private lands conservation agency. The NRCS helps producers protect and conserve natural resources on private lands through voluntary conservation programs. Through Practice Standards and technical guides, the NRCS provides information about the conservation, energy resources, and provides personalized advice to individual producers.

The NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides technical and financial assistance to producers as they implement NRCS Conservation Practice Standards.

Technical guides used in each field office are localized so that they apply specifically to the geographic area for which they are prepared. Thus, while national guidelines have been provided as a framework for each standard, each state has adopted and modified the conservation practice standards to suit their individual landscape.

To find a local NRCS Service center click here.

To find the specific guideline for each state click here.

About the Solution:

Forage Harvest Management (511)

Forage harvest management includes timely cutting and removal of forages as hay, green-chop, or ensilage.

Practice Information

This practice applies to all land uses where forage is machine harvested. Forage is harvested at a frequency and height that optimizes the desired forage stand, plant community, and stand life.

When harvesting for feed, health considerations for specific plant and animal species must be considered. Depending on the plant material, drought conditions may increase nitrate levels in forages to the point of possible toxicity, while prussic acid poisoning may be an issue with frosted material.

In conjunction with harvest options, storage and feeding options may be needed that will retain acceptable forage quality and minimize digestible dry matter loss.

Where weather conditions make it difficult to harvest the desired quality of forage, use of mechanical or chemical conditioners, and/or ensiling may be required.

Harvest may be delayed if prolonged or heavy precipitation is forecast that would reduce forage quality.

Green-chopping or ensiling the forage to reduce or eliminate field-drying time may be necessary in regions where rainfall and/or humidity levels cause unacceptable forage quality losses. Other options include the use of desiccants, preservatives, or macerating implements to reduce field-drying time.

Common Associated Practices

NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) Forage Harvest Management (Code 511) is commonly applied with other conservation practices such as:

  • Pasture and Hay Planting (Code 512)
  • Herbaceous Weed Treatment (Code 315)
  • Nutrient Management (Code 590)
  • Pest Management Conservation System (Code 595)
  • Waste Recycling (Code 633)

  • To view the national NRCS standard for Forage Harvest Managemetn please click here.

    Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, DC United States 1-833-ONE-USDA Visit Company Website

    Solution Type

    • General Support and Other


    • Others


    • Other


    • Nitrogen
    • Phosphorous

    To view additional information about this vendor, click below.

    Solution Strengths, Weaknesses and Critical Indicators

    NOTE: There are multiple technologies that are used as part of integrated manure management systems and yet are not manure management types on their own. The impact of these technologies on their own would be minimal or very difficult to quantify.

    General Support & Other:

    • Can be an integral part of many manure management systems
    • Most projects have at least some equipment that supports operations of the main technology
    • This technology is not evaluated on its own, the NEAT Matrix for this technology is neutral unless utilized with other technologies.

    Newtrient Comments/Opinions:

    Newtrient is using the USDA-NRCS conservation practice standards as tools to assist dairy producers in understanding the standards and how they can be used to address resources concerns.

    To establish a Practice Standard a system or practice must be thoroughly vetted, approved, and standardized by the USDA at the federal and state level. These conservation practices have been developed to address various environmental resource concerns. Newtrient has developed a 9-point scoring process for ranking additives, practices, services, and technologies for the dairy industry. Recognizing the rigorous approval procedure used during the development of the NRCS Practice Standards, many of them score very highly and are worthy of consideration on any dairy where they apply.

    The information provided here is a summary of the selected conservation practices. For up to date and detailed information related to the full Practice Standards, please see the USDA NRCS website, linked above.

    Newtrient 9-Point Scoring Rating

    View the Scoring Page

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