World Food Day: Protecting Natural Resources through Nutrient Planning Around the World

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
First established on Oct. 16, 1979, World Food Day recognizes the day in 1945 when 42 countries assembled in Quebec, Canada to create the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to free humanity from hunger and malnutrition, effectively managing the global food system.
World Food Day: Protecting Natural Resources through Nutrient Planning Around the World

Today, we at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) share a similar vision of providing a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for people around the world.

One NIFA-funded project expanded on more than 10 years of success in the United States by helping Chinese farmers and producers create a comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP). CNMPs are conservation plans unique to animal feeding operations. CNMPs include conservation practices and management activities to help ensure that both production and natural resource protection goals are met.

In 2003, Dr. Robert Burns led the Iowa State University CNMP training program, which developed a core curriculum to train and certify U.S. technical service providers on how to write CNMPs for animal producers. In 2015, Burns, now at the University of Tennessee, joined forces with Dr. Hongwei Xin at Iowa State University, to implement the core curriculum in China. “The program was introduced in China after a strong interest was expressed by our collaborator at the Chinese Academy of Ag Sciences (CAAS), Dr. Hongmin Dong, the project’s lead scientist,” said Burns.

Xin and Burns introduced CNMP training workshops to the Chinese academic community, government research institutions, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment Protection, and livestock industry professionals. The workshops demonstrated CNMP at Huarui Dairy Farm, a commercial dairy operation with more than 3,000 animals, in Zhangye, Gansu Province, China. These workshops were developed due to an increased awareness and national regulation to prevent and control pollution from large-scale livestock and poultry production operation that ultimately inspired the creation of the China National Agricultural Sustainable Development Plan, which will operate from 2015-2030. 

Preventing and controlling pollution from these sources is important because, according to Xin, China accounts for 50 percent of the world’s pork and 40 percent of the world’s poultry and egg production.

One of the biggest challenges the project faced was overcoming trepidation among Chinese producers surrounding the use of manure rather than commercial fertilizer. According to Burns, there was a lot of concern regarding toxicity, pathogens, metals, and other factors. The CNMP course provides research-based education on the proper application of manure. CAAS also demonstrated proper manure management and application to farmers through the CNMP workshops at the Huarui Dairy Farm.

“As a result of the trainings in both the U.S. and China, CNMPs create a positive image for the animal industry, demonstrating that livestock producers are doing their part to improve environmental stewardship, promoting better water and air quality, while reducing the input of commercial fertilizers,” said Xin.

Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, and Argentina have also used the CNMP core curriculum developed at Iowa State for training. 

For more NIFA impacts, visit or the Land-Grant University Impacts website. Send us your NIFA-funded impacts at or share them with @USDA_NIFA on Twitter #NIFAimpacts.


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