Non-Agricultural Source Materials (NASM)

Table of Contents

  1. What are Non-Agricultural Source Materials?
  2. The benefits of using NASM
  3. NASM categories
  4. Land application practices
  5. Specific information for municipalities that receive NASM
  6. Additional information
    1. Web pages
    2. Factsheets
    3. Regulatory information
  7. Roles of provincial ministries
  8. Contact information
  9. Disclaimer

What are Non-agricultural Source Materials?

Non-Agricultural Source Material, or NASM, is treated and recycled material from non-agricultural sources, like leaf and yard waste, fruit and vegetable peels, food processing waste, pulp and paper biosolids and sewage biosolids, that is applied to agricultural land to provide a beneficial use. A full list of materials that are considered NASM can be found in Schedule 4 of the Nutrient Management Regulation.

NASM does not include compost that meets the standards for Category AA or A outlined in Part II of the Ontario Compost Quality Standards. It also does not include untreated septage or commercial fertilizers.

The regulation, under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, provides the rules for the storage, sampling, analysis and land application of NASM.

The benefits of using NASM

NASM has been applied to Ontario farmland for more than 30 years. It provides organic matter that can help maintain soil productivity, reduce soil erosion and adds valuable nutrients to soil for crops. Public health and the environment are protected when NASM is applied according to Ontario's rules and guidelines.

NASM provides an additional cost-effective option for improving soil quality and for fertilizing crops. For example, compared to the cost of buying commercial fertilizers, farmers can save as much as $200 a hectare by applying NASM, depending on the crop grown, the type of NASM used and the management practice for applying the material.

NASM Catagories

The regulation establishes consistent standards and requirements for using and managing NASM. These standards and requirements apply to anyone in Ontario who generates or uses NASM. The standards focus on the nature of the material being land applied, ensuring it meets strict criteria and provides a benefit to the farmer.

NASM is classified under one of three categories. The NASM in each of the categories can be applied to agricultural land.

  • Category 1: e.g. Leaf and yard waste that has not been composted
  • Category 2: e.g. organic waste matter that contains no meat or fish and is derived from food processing at a bakery
  • Category 3: e.g. pulp and paper biosolids, paunch manure and sewage biosolids

The land application standards vary based on the category and other qualities of the NASM being applied.

NASM cannot be land applied if it has any of these characteristics:

  • the content of a regulated metal exceeds CM2 NASM
  • the content of E. coli exceeds that of CP2 NASM
  • the odour detection threshold exceeds that of OC3

Land application standards and practices

There are a number of land application standards and practices that make sure NASM is land applied in an environmentally responsible way. The standards and practices limit where, when, how and how much NASM can be applied in a particular set of circumstances, and are enforced by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). They are good management practices that allow the farmer to use the NASM while protecting land and water from potentially harmful environmental impacts.

Agricultural soils where NASM will be applied must first be tested for soil pH, phosphorus and the concentration levels of 11 regulated metals. Testing makes sure that the soil is appropriate to receive NASM.

When applying NASM to land, farmers must stay a safe distance away from sensitive features, such as wells, surface water, and neighbouring homes and businesses, and must consider land characteristics, such as surface slopes and depth of soil to bedrock. Sometimes the material must be incorporated into the soil in order to prevent odours and the flow of the NASM off of the field. Farmers always have to make sure that they are applying the right amount of NASM appropriate for the material that they are applying, the crop that they are growing and the soil.

Some crops are better suited for receiving NASM than others. There are mandatory pre-harvest and pre-grazing periods for certain crops.

For Category 2 and 3 NASM, land application standards must be documented in a NASM Plan. A NASM Plan is a legal document that demonstrates that the application of NASM is done correctly. It considers site-specific information and demonstrates that the application rates of NASM and other nutrients are appropriate for the crops being grown. It also includes a contingency plan that outlines what can be done in the event of an emergency, such as a spill. NASM Plans must be prepared by a certified NASM Plan developer, and must comply with the regulation, the Nutrient Management Protocol, the NASM Odour Guide and the Sampling and Analysis Protocol. Most NASM plans must be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

Specific information for municipalities that receive NASM

Once a NASM Plan is approved, OMAFRA will notify the local municipality (lower or single tier) that an application site has been approved to accept NASM. The notification is sent to the Clerk and is circulated as needed.

Additional information

The following resources provide more specific information about NASM:

Web pages


Regulatory information:

Roles of provincial ministries

The act and the regulation are administered by MOECC and OMAFRA. Environmental protection is a top priority for both ministries.

  • OMAFRA is responsible for the approvals, training, certification and education activities required for the safe application of NASM.
  • OMAFRA notifies the local municipality (lower or single tier) when any NASM Plan within its jurisdiction is approved.
  • MOECC is responsible for enforcing compliance with the regulation.
  • MOECC does proactive inspections and responds to complaints of NASM land application activities to ensure compliance with the regulatory standards and protection of the environment. If an adverse effect occurs or may occur, or if a discharge may impair water quality, the Environmental Protection Act and/or the Ontario Water Resources Act may apply. Any concerns about compliance with land application standards can be referred to MOECC.

Contact information

For information about NASM training, certification and education, visit the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus's website. For more information about NASM, visit the OMAFRA website or contact OMAFRA's Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or

For information about compliance and enforcement, visit MOECC's website, or call 1-800-565-4923.


The information contained on this page is not authoritative. It is derived from the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (NMA) and its General Regulation (O. Reg. 267/03) and is for informational purposes only. Efforts have been made to make it as accurate as possible, but in the event of a conflict, inconsistency or error, the requirements set out in the NMA and the regulation take precedence. Please refer to e-Laws for what the NMA and the regulation actually provide. In addition, there may be additional legal obligations under different pieces of Legislation which are not the subject of this informational web page. The Government of Ontario assumes no liability for any inaccurate or incomplete information, nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Prior to implementing any changes to your operations, it is strongly recommended that you review the NMA and the regulation directly and seek any advice you consider appropriate from a qualified person.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 18 January 2010
Last Reviewed: 03 November 2014