What is the Nutrient Loading Calculator (NLC)?

The Nutrient Loading Calculator (NLC) is a Windows-based (Excel) program developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in collaboration with prairie provincial agricultural departments. The NLC estimates additions of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur on the landscape, from in-field or extensive livestock winter feeding systems. It is designed to help land managers plan detailed feed and cow management strategies to achieve an acceptable or target animal unit density per acre based on appropriate nutrient additions in the field.

How does NLC work?

The calculator estimates the amount of nutrients that are added to a field, when importing feed from offsite. It assumes that all nutrients in the feed are deposited on the landscape in the form of manure, urine, and waste feed, with the exception of nutrients removed as livestock weight gain. The calculator considers only nutrients added to the feeding area itself, and doesn't address nutrients deposited in shelter/bedding areas, watering sites, and other land outside the feeding area. The calculator uses separate worksheets to assess three different feeding systems: whole bales, windrows on the ground, and feeding in a movable trough.

Why are there two versions of the calculator?

There are two versions of this calculator: Feed to Cow version, and Cow to Feed version. Both versions essentially calculate the same information, but in a different order. The feed to cow version may be preferred for fields that have more than enough space to accommodate feed for one feeding season for the entire herd. The cow to feed version may be preferred if the field does not have enough space to accommodate feed for the entire herd over the full winter feeding season.

Nutrient Loading Calculator download

Download the Nutrient Loading Calculator for In-Field or Extensive Livestock Winter Feeding Systems


  • The principal author of this calculator is:
    Dennis Haak Dennis Haak
    Senior Soil Resource Specialist
    Science and Technology Branch
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    6947 Highway 7, PO Box 1000
    Agassiz, B.C. V0M 1A0

The author would like to acknowledge the technical support and input provided by the following individuals for the development of this calculator.

  1. Kaytlyn Criddle, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  2. Lorne Klein, Saskatchewan Agriculture
  3. Dennis Lastuka, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  4. Dale Timmerman, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  5. Mitchell Timmerman, Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives
  6. Trevor Wallace, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
  7. Barry Yaremcio, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

For enquiries contact Trevor Wallace Nutrient Management Specialist with the Agri-Environmental Management Branch, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, or the author, at the address above, or by email at dennis.haak@agr.gc.ca.

Feedback and Questions

To provide feedback or if you have any questions please contact: Trevor Wallace