Application Risk Management (ARM)


While anyone can use the ARM guidelines, the complete use of the ARM system, including early season application, is for approved operations only. In order to qualify for approval, you must have a risk analysis conducted on your fields, your Nutrient Management Plan updated to include the ARM system components, and agree to work cooperatively with WCD to monitor and adapt your ARM Plan as necessary. Use of this system without the proper analysis is not permitted. Please call WCD to get started today (360) 526-2381 x 126.



Part of properly managing your nutrients is knowing how to apply them in such a way that minimizes the risk of resource pollution, while also maximizes availability to plants. This ARM system was developed by WCD to help you through the process of properly assessing, managing, and reducing the risks associated with applying manure to your fields. The system is meant to be used in conjunction with your Nutrient Management Plan, which lays out the risks associated with your farm fields and how to individually manage them. The ARM analysis should be used year round, but is particularly important during periods of high risk (Oct-March).


What is Application Risk Management (ARM)?

Using a combination of existing NRCS guidelines, field data, and new science, the Whatcom Conservation District is in the process of developing a new addition to our Dairy Nutrient Management Plans entitled the Application Risk Management (ARM) System. This system and its tools are being created, in part, to address the surface and ground water quality issues we see during times of heavy manure application coupled with an increase in rain fall (spring and fall) and unsuitable field conditions (i.e., high water table, high soil moisture, standing water, etc). These events typically happen, in part, due to improper application practices, but are also heavily influenced by the rigid and often untimely constraints on application dates that not only end up encouraging application at inopportune times, but also inhibit seasonal adaptation in a changing climate.

In order to remediate this issue, we have created a system that allows you, the producer, to asses the risk of applying manure at any given time of the year by helping you identify field characteristics that have a lower risk associated with application, while also guiding you through the process of properly assessing, managing, and reducing application risks for all of your fields. As long as your Nutrient Management Plan is updated, and field and weather conditions permit, we would like to encourage agronomic application during periods of minimal rainfall and increased nutrient uptake, particularly during the fall and early spring periods. This may mean that you will have the opportunity for early season application to low risk forage fields, which can provide nutrients (N) to forage at times when plants have increased nutrient needs (Mar-Jun). Additionally, since manure application after September has limited benefit for crops, and is at a higher risk for runoff and leaching, we encourage you to cease application in September instead of October. This will greatly reduce your risk of late season nutrient runoff, winter leaching, and preserve the fertilizer value of your manure.

Once enrolled in the system, use the information in your Nutrient Management Plan as well as the ARM Worksheet to assess if manure application is appropriate for your selected fields. If you would like to apply manure prior to the dates listed in your DNMP, you MUST have an ARM risk analysis written into your Nutrient Management Plan, which identifies if and where your low risk fields are, and what your application constraints are.

ARM Worksheet

By assessing the parameters in the ARM Worksheet, and taking the necessary steps to determine your application risk, you will be able to reduce your chances of ill timed manure application and protect the resources on your farm.

The ARM Worksheet is a web based application that will provide you with an analysis of your application risks as you enter in your data. You may collect most of your information in the field using the Field Assessment Worksheet then enter it into the worksheet to assess your level of risk and obtain guidelines for application. Information needed for each field includes: forecast, water table depth, soil moisture, field conditions, vegetative cover, application equipment, vegetative treatment strip condition, and setback distances.

Please note, even if this worksheet says it is okay to apply, it cannot account for every variable or condition present on your field. It is your responsibility to use your best judgment and adhere to all application guidelines outlined in your plan. Always err on the side of caution to prevent unwanted discharges. Manure application practices that cause a discharge can lead to fines and/or necessitate a CAFO permit for your facility. The Whatcom Conservation District and the NRCS assume no responsibility for inappropriate manure application. Proper application is ultimately your responsibility.

Note: The ARM system is still under review and revision. From 2010-2014 the system will be scientifically validated and ground proofed in order to make sure it is comprehensive, easy to use, and adequately protects valuable resources. If you have questions or concerns regarding system components, please contact Nichole Embertson at WCD (360) 526-2381 x 126.

If at anytime you have questions related to this Worksheet or the ARM system, please call:
Whatcom Conservation District
(360) 526-2381 x 126


ARM Information and Guidelines

  • Application Risk Management (ARM) Worksheet - This is a webbased worksheet that will help you assess your application risk. Click on the link and save the file to your desktop. Once it is on your computer, you can use the file for each application determination. Fill out this Worksheet for EACH of your fields individually prior to EVERY application.
  • ARM Field Assessment Worksheet - Print a copy and use this worksheet when you are out in the field assessing your fields prior to filling out the ARM Worksheet and applying.
  • Field Assessment and Application Steps - Summary of the steps you should take prior to application.
  • Application Parameters - An explanation of each of the parameters you are asked to assess on the ARM Worksheet.
  • Soil Moisture Determination - Use these guidelines to help determine the soil moisture level of your field.
  • Water Table Depth Determination - Use these guidelines to help determine the water table in your field.
  • Forage Density Determination - Use these guidelines to help determine the Forage Density in your field.
  • Area Weather Summary - A brief summary of the weather, including the temperature and precipitation trends, for the Whatcom County area. Understanding the weather and its trends is a large part of managing application risk.
  • Forecast & Weather Links - Useful sites to use for determining forecast & past weather.
This page was last modified on 05/10/21 - 13:37