AgriSuite Help

Table of Contents

  1. Disclaimer
  2. Help with using AgriSuite
  3. Using NMAN for best management practices
  4. Using NMAN for regulatory purposes
  5. Using the Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Software

1. Disclaimer

The information contained in this document is not authoritative. It is derived from the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (NMA) and its General Regulation (O. Reg. 267/03), the Nutrient Management Protocol and the Sampling and Analysis Protocol. Information on Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater is derived from the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation (O. Reg. 300/14), the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Management Protocol, the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Management Table and Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Sampling and Analysis Protocol.

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 associated regulations and protocols take precedence. 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, its regulations and protocols directly and seek any advice you consider appropriate from a qualified person.

2. Help with using AgriSuite

What is AgriSuite?

AgriSuite houses the NMAN and MDS software programs.

With NMAN, you can:

  • plan nutrient, manure, washwater, NASM and greenhouse nutrient feedwater (GNF) applications
  • access a database of crop heat units and average crop yields by geotownship
  • estimate the nutrient content of various prescribed materials using a database of manure and other nutrient analysis results
  • determine manure, NASM and GNF application rates for your farm
  • estimate the manure storage volume requirements for new storage or livestock housing designs
  • show the equivalent dollar value of the manure, GNF, NASM and fertilizer nutrients applied
  • identify the minimum recommended separation distances from watercourses and the risk factors of nitrogen movement to groundwater

With MDS, you can:

  • calculate the minimum distance separation between a livestock barn, manure storage or anaerobic digester and another proposed land use (MDS I)
  • calculate the minimum distance separation between an existing or approved land use, a lot line or road allowance and a new or expanding livestock barn, manure storage or anaerobic digester (MDS II)

This help document provides more information to help AgriSuite Users. Training courses, available through the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, teach users how to use NMAN. These courses are mandatory for nutrient management strategy and plan preparers (or "consultants") who are using NMAN for regulatory purposes. Farmers will also find the software and courses helpful as planning tools and are highly recommended. For more information on these courses, go to the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus website.

The MDS Document, "The Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Document Formulae and Guidelines for Livestock Facility and Anaerobic Digester Odour Setbacks, Publication 853," includes training material and information that will help you use the software. More information about Publication 853, including how to order the document, can be found on the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) website.

To get a copy of Publication 853:

  • Order a PDF version of the document through the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.
  • Order a free hard copy version from ServiceOntario on their website or by calling 1-800-668-9938.

A revision to the MDS Document - Publication 853 was made on March 27, 2017. If you have an older version of the PDF or hard copy of the document, we recommend that you get an updated copy.

Contact an OMAFRA Rural Planner in your area if you work for a municipality (e.g. you’re a land use planner or a building official), or you work for a land use planning or nutrient management consulting firm and are interested in MDS training.

Where do I go for help with using AgriSuite?

You can download and save this help file to your desktop to read when you do not have an Internet connection. Click on "Display Help File" from the AgriSuite start page and save the file to your desktop once the file opens. More help information is available on the Using NMAN for Regulatory Purposes and the Using NMAN for Best Management Practices web pages.

Are you having trouble installing or updating AgriSuite? Visit our Help with Installing and Updating AgriSuite web page for answers to some common problems.

Which web browser should I use to run Agrisuite?

We recommend that you use Microsoft Internet Explorer when using AgriSuite. AgriSuite is not compatible with Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Other web browsers may cause some configuration issues.

How do I find Microsoft Internet Explorer in Windows 10?

Microsoft Edge is the default web browser for Windows 10; however, Internet Explorer 11 is also included with the Windows 10 operating system. To find Internet Explorer:

  • Go to the search box in the taskbar on your Windows desktop (Note: the search bar may be labelled Cortana if you have Cortana enabled).
  • Type Internet Explorer into the search box. Internet Explorer will pop up above the search box.

If you wish to save Internet Explorer to your start menu, right-click your mouse on the Internet Explorer icon above the search bar and click "Pin to Start Menu."

How do I run AgriSuite offline?

To run AgriSuite offline, click the "Install AgriSuite to Desktop" option on the AgriSuite start page. A box will open asking if you want to install the system. Click "Yes," and then select the "Install" button. When you click the install button:

  • a copy of AgriSuite will be installed on your computer
  • shortcut links will be added to your start menu and desktop
  • AgriSuite will open outside of your browser

When using AgriSuite offline, you will not be able to use regular Internet functions not related to AgriSuite, such as the toolbars, next and back buttons.

Are you having trouble installing or updating AgriSuite? Visit our Help with Installing and Updating AgriSuite web page for answers to some common problems.

Which version of AgriSuite should I be using?

You will have the most recent version of AgriSuite once you download the system to your computer. AgriSuite will notify you when there is a new version release of the system, and will automatically update for you when you connect to the Internet.

When using AgriSuite offline, the system will not be able to check for updates. You will need to connect to the Internet for AgriSuite to automatically check for an updated version. If AgriSuite detects a newer version:

  • the new version is downloaded and installed automatically to your computer
  • a dialogue box informing you of the update will open; you will be prompted to exit the program and restart AgriSuite to use the newly updated version.

You will notice the system version number has changed the next time you open AgriSuite.

How do I update my version of AgriSuite?

If you are using AgriSuite online, you will receive a message if a newer version of AgriSuite is available. AgriSuite will automatically update for you. In some cases, you may need to manually download the most recent version of AgriSuite. This can happen for several reasons, such as a name change to the application or if the location of where AgriSuite is hosted online has moved.

To manually download AgriSuite:

  • right-click on the top green section of AgriSuite and choose to remove the application
  • open your browser and go to the AgriSuite web page
  • from the AgriSuite start page, re-install the new version of AgriSuite

Depending on your version of Silverlight, you may not be able to right-click on the top green screen section and choose to remove the application. Follow the steps below to manually remove the older version of NMAN, MDS or AgriSuite from your desktop, and to install the newest version.

Are you having trouble installing or updating AgriSuite? Visit our Help with Installing and Updating AgriSuite web page for answers to some common problems.

Uninstall AgriSuite from your desktop using the web application

  • Open the AgriSuite web application using Internet Explorer (using another browser may cause configuration issues)
  • Right-click on the title of the application and click "Remove this Application"
  • Refresh the Internet browser and click "Install AgriSuite to Desktop" on the AgriSuite start page

If you are not able to remove the older version using these steps, you can try uninstalling the application using your computer's control panel.

Uninstall AgriSuite from your desktop using the control panel on your computer

If using a PC with Windows 10:

  • Open the start menu on your computer and click "Settings"
  • Select "System," and then select "Apps & Features" from the menu
  • Select AgriSuite from the list of programs and click "Uninstall"
  • Open the AgriSuite web application

On the AgriSuite start page, click "Install AgriSuite to Desktop" or bookmark the online web page.

If using a PC with Windows XP:

  • Open the start menu on your computer and click "Control Panel", then "Programs", then "Add or Remove Programs"
  • Select AgriSuite from the list of programs and click "Uninstall"
  • Open the AgriSuite web application
  • On the AgriSuite start page, click "Install AgriSuite to Desktop" or bookmark the online web page

If using a Mac:

  • Open your "Applications" folder found under "Go" in your "Finder Window" and browse to AgriSuite
  • Drag the AgriSuite application to your trash bin
  • To fully remove AgriSuite, right click on the trash bin icon and select "Empty Trash" to confirm
  • Open the AgriSuite web application
  • On the AgriSuite start page, click "Install AgriSuite to Desktop" or bookmark the online web page

A connection to the Internet is required to download AgriSuite. Contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca for more information on uninstalling and installing AgriSuite.

How do I save AgriSuite files?

You can save AgriSuite files if you are using the system online or offline. AgriSuite files are saved using a "Save As" function. Every time you save your work, you will be asked to either type in a filename or select an existing file to update or overwrite. AgriSuite files use the file extension .agri.

Note - When you save a file, AgriSuite will, by default, save the file to the "My Documents" folder on your computer, or the last folder you used to save or open an AgriSuite file. To save the file in a different location, select a destination from your network or folder list and click "Save."

How do I open AgriSuite files?

You can only open AgriSuite files from within the AgriSuite system. On the start page, choose "Open" and select the file you want to open. The "Open Last" button will open the last file that you were working on.

An AgriSuite file cannot be opened from "My Computer" or "Windows Explorer." Trying to open an AgriSuite file through your computer's folder structure will result in an error message and will not launch AgriSuite. This will happen regardless if you are using AgriSuite online or offline.

What type of files can I import into AgriSuite?

AgriSuite is able to import and upgrade NMAN2 and MDS 1.0.x files. You should review the imported information as there may be updated calculations that will alter some data.

To import NMAN2 files:

  1. Ensure the file(s) you wish to open are saved in the "My Documents" folder.
  2. Click on the "Import NMAN2 Files" option under the "Support & Maintenance" section of the AgriSuite start page.
  3. Highlight the file you wish to open from the list in the "Import NMAN2 File" dialogue box.
  4. Click the "OK" button.
  5. A progress bar will appear to let you know the program is upgrading and importing the NMAN2 data. It may take a few minutes for the NMAN2 file to import.

To import MDS 1.0.x files:

  • Ensure the file(s) you wish to open are saved in the "My Documents" folder.
  • Click on the "Import MDS 1.0.x File" option under the "Support & Maintenance" section of the AgriSuite start page.
  • Highlight the file you wish to open from the list in the "Import MDS 1.0.x File" dialogue box.
  • Click the "ok" button.
  • A progress bar will appear to let you know the program is upgrading and importing the MDS 1.0.x data. It may take a few minutes for the MDS file to import.
  • For any MDS files imported to AgriSuite, you should confirm the information and the MDS setback calculation due to changes to the calculation of MDS setbacks. This is especially important for MDS I setbacks, where changes have been made to the calculation of potential design capacity used to determine Factor B.

How do I manage AgriSuite files?

When you start AgriSuite, you can either open an existing AgriSuite file or create a new one. An AgriSuite file can contain a number of different worksheet tabs, such as a NASM Plan, greenhouse nutrient feedwater (GNF) worksheet, a field management plan and an MDS I and/or an MDS II worksheet. AgriSuite files contain a single preparer contact name that is associated with all of the NASM Plan, GNF, field management plans and MDS worksheets in the file. A description and comments can be added to the file to provide information to any user who may be accessing this file in the future.

You can import and export data between NASM plans within a file. Clicking the "Copy" button within a plan will open a "Copy Information from Another NASM Plan" dialogue box. In the dialogue box, you can choose the plan that you would like to copy information from and the specific items (farms, fields, materials and storages) to copy to the active plan. By default, all of the information in the selected plan will be copied to the active plan. You can change some of this information by manually selecting the fields and entering different information.

Note - Plans within a file are not linked. Any edits made to one plan will not impact other plans.

What units can I run in AgriSuite?

AgriSuite operates in Metric, Imperial or US Imperial measurements. The only difference between Imperial and US Imperial measurements is the size of the gallon. The default measurement is Metric.

You can choose another form of measurement to use in AgriSuite. On the start page, select the "Units" drop-down menu located in the top left-hand corner, next to the "Save" button, and select your preferred option.

Can I run AgriSuite in different languages?

Yes. AgriSuite operates in both English and French. You may start working in English and print in French or work in French and print in English.

You can change the language you are working in by selecting the drop-down menu on the start page under "User Settings." The file will be translated for you, and the print option will be available in the language that you select.

How do I generate NMAN reports in AgriSuite?

The print button located in the top left-hand corner of the worksheet allows you to print different report types depending on the type of plan or strategy that you are creating. The print options allow you to meet the regulatory, record keeping, communication or best management practice recommendations.

Print preview and print (PDF) options are available on the bottom of the print screen. You will be notified if there is missing or additional information required, either on the print screen or in your worksheet. You must complete this information, especially when preparing worksheets with regulatory-based information, before you are able to print. These fields will be marked on your strategy or plan with the following flags:

Information Triangle icon (blue) missing information (needed to be able to print)

Information triangle icon (yellow) additional information (required for the reviewers of the strategies or plans)

Once you choose print, you will be asked to save the PDF report to your computer. This will generate a report to submit to OMAFRA. AgriSuite does not print directly.

Can I make an electronic NASM Plan submission?

Yes. You will have the option to generate a digital (.xml) file at the same time you create the PDF file. The .xml file must be generated at the same time as the associated PDF for the .xml file to be acceptable for OMAFRA. Both files will need to be submitted to OMAFRA for review.

For more information about electronically submitting NASM Plans, registrations or other applications, contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

3. Using NMAN for best management practices

How do I use AgriSuite/NMAN to calculate a field management plan?

You will need to first create a new file by clicking "New" on the start page. Once a file is created, you can add a field management plan by clicking the "Add Field Management Plan" button under the "File Information" tab. This will add a field management plan to your file and display the newly added "Field Plan" tab.

Note - When preparing a field management plan, "Preparer Contact Information" is an optional field to complete in the "File Information" tab.

The field management plan will automatically add a farm and field and open the "Field Information" screen for you to begin working in. The "Field Information" screen will consider all relevant information in your worksheet, such as the soil test values, history of material applications, and information in the active field management plan.

The field management plan uses best management practice flags when you use NMAN for best management practices. These flags alert you to missing information, or information that poses concern.

Blue information triangle icon missing information (blue flag)

Yellow stop sign icon with a money symbol may present an economic concern to your business (yellow economic flag)

Yellow triangle icon with an exclamation mark inside may present an environmental concern (yellow caution flag)

Red stop sign icon with an exclamation mark inside presents an environmental concern (red BMP flag)

How does NMAN determine the values calculated in a field management plan?

The values in a field management plan are determined by the cropping year you indicate on the worksheet. Select the cropping year on the "Field Inputs" tab. This determines the cropping year displayed in the balance table, as well as the year the N-Index, P-Index and Economic Summary will be calculated for.

There are a number of different options available to you when determining which cropping year to use in a field management plan. On the "Field Inputs" tab, you can add a cropping year by clicking the "Add Crop or Cropping Year" button. Once you enter information on the "Cropping Information" screen, click "Ok" and select your preferred cropping year on the "Field Inputs" tab.

NMAN displays all of the information about the field management plan on the "Field Inputs" tab of the "Field Information" screen. The field input description can be displayed or hidden from the "Field Inputs" tab by turning the "Display Field Input Details" checkbox on or off.

There are several buttons under the "Field Inputs" tab that you can use to add information to your field management plan:

Display Multiple Cropping Years

NMAN can display multiple years of field information. To do this, click the checkbox next to "Display Multiple Cropping Years" under the "Field Inputs" tab of your field plan. This will display a "Number of Years" selection box. The number of years displayed will begin with the active cropping year you select and the number of subsequent years you enter.

Nitrogen Index

The nitrogen index value is displayed in brackets on the "Nitrogen Index" button under the "Field Inputs" tab. Click the button to show the components of the value displayed. This Index value is calculated per year and is displayed for the active cropping year.

Phosphorus Index

The phosphorus index value is displayed in brackets on the "Phosphorus Index" button under the "Field Inputs" tab. Click the button to show the components of the value displayed. This value is calculated per year and is displayed for the active cropping year.

Economic Summary

You can access the economic summary for the active cropping year by clicking on the "Economic Summary" button under the "Field Inputs" tab. The screen shows the breakdown of the values used to calculate the economic details of the cropping year. This function gives you the option of entering your own values or using the default values in the system.

Cover Crops

When adding a crop on the "Field Inputs" tab, click "Add a Crop or Cropping Year" button. On the "Cropping Information" screen, you will have the option to choose "cover crop" from the first drop-down menu. When using cover crops, the production recommendations and nutrient removal values will equal zero, and the tillage information will be hidden and exempt from the Phosphorus Index calculations. If the cover crop is harvested, the default nutrient removal values will be displayed and used in the balance calculations.

Note: You will need to enter a yield for a cover crop.

How can I add grazing and pasturing information into my NMAN calculations?

OMAFRA developed a useful step-by-step guide to help you add grazing and pasturing information to NMAN calculations. See the Guide to Adding Pasturing and Grazing Information to NMAN Calculations web page for more information.

4. Using NMAN for regulatory purposes

How do I meet the NASM Plan regulatory requirements?

To create a NASM Plan, select "Add NASM Plan" under the "File Information" tab. To meet the regulatory requirements, you must first enter the details on the "General Information" screen, including the file name, the NASM Plan start date and end date, the federal business number and operation type. This information is used on the NASM Plan reports that you submit to OMAFRA.

NMAN uses the start and end dates of a plan to determine if the regulatory requirements and best management practices are met in the NASM Plan. NMAN uses specific flags to show you if information in the plan contravenes the regulatory requirements or best management practice recommendations.

NMAN allows you to add information into the plan that will help you meet regulatory requirements:

  • The "Farm Unit" screen (select "Farm Unit" from the left-hand column of the NASM Plan worksheet) allows you to add a farm and field properties, such as the size, soil type and test values, as well as any proposed material or fertilizer applications.
  • The "NASM Plan Materials" screen (select "Materials" from the left-hand column of the NASM Plan worksheet) is where you add the type of nutrients and nutrient values for your farm. This information is used when calculating a total nutrient balance found under the "Field Inputs" tab on the "Field Information" screen.
  • The "NASM Plan Storages" screen (select "Storages" from the left-hand column of the NASM Plan worksheet) is where you add storages for your farm. NMAN determines the type and size of storage system required to manage the materials for the NASM Plan. NMAN will notify you if the storage system does not meet the requirements of the Nutrient Management Act (NMA) or the Environmental Protection Act (an Environmental Compliance Approval number is required).

When you are using NMAN for regulatory purposes, NMAN uses a different flagging system. You may see these flags when using NMAN for regulatory purposes:

Blue information triangle iconmissing information (relevant to be able to print)

Yellow information triangle iconadditional information (required for the reviewers of the strategies or plans)

Red stop sign warning iconbest management practices (contrary to the recommended practices)

Red stop sign iconlegislative stop (not likely to receive approval after printing the final report)

Orange check mark icondirector's approval (required for a NASM Plan and for GNF purposes)

How do I calculate a NASM field application?

In a NASM Plan, fields are linked to a farm within the farm unit. It is important to enter in the most accurate and up-to-date information that you have for your field(s). For instance, the agronomic and crop removal balances that are shown on the "Field Inputs" tab are calculated on a yearly basis. You must select or add the cropping year when calculating your nutrient balances.

You may notice that there are flags in your plan if required or recommended information has not been added to your worksheet. You must complete these fields to accurately calculate your NASM field applications.

If you are applying NASM to your field, a NASM application summary on the "Field Information" screen will calculate the yearly application rate for each material application added to your NASM Plan.

The fields in your NASM Plan can be managed on the farm unit screen by adding a field, splitting up a field or copying a field from one field to another section.

How do I meet the agricultural source material strategy and plan regulatory requirements?

For agricultural source material (ASM) strategies and plans, select "Add NM Strategy & Plan" under the "File Information" tab. You will follow similar steps to create an ASM strategy or plan as the NASM Plan steps described above. In most cases, you need to add information on storage systems and materials by selecting the "Add Storage System" icon and "Materials" button on the left-hand side of the screen. Using the material and storage options will help you meet the regulatory requirements.

How do I meet the GNF regulatory requirements?

To meet the GNF strategy and plan requirements, select the "Add Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Worksheet" under the "File Information" tab. If you are a GNF generator or you are a GNF receiver and you wish to operate a GNF storage system, you will need to add materials and a storage system to your worksheet by selecting the "Add Storage System" icon and "Materials" button from the top left-hand side of the screen. Similar to when developing a NASM Plan, NMS or NMP, NMAN will display legislative flags to notify you when there is a legal conflict in your strategy or plan.

Where can I find more information about the Nutrient Management Act?

You can find information on the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (NMA) and the General Regulation (Ontario Regulation 267/03) on the e-Laws website. Information on the Nutrient Management Protocol and the Sampling and Analysis Protocol for Ontario Regulation 267/03 is on the OMAFRA website. Find information on the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Regulation (Ontario Regulation 300/14) on the e-Laws website. You can find more information on the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Management Protocol, the Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Management Table and Greenhouse Nutrient Feedwater Sampling and Analysis Protocol on the OMAFRA website.

You can find supporting nutrient management documents and information on the OMAFRA website.

For information on the type of certificate or licence required to prepare strategies or plans, see the University of Guelph's Ridgetown Campus nutrient management website.

5. Using the Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Software

What is the MDS Formulae?

The Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Formulae are land use planning tools that determine setback distances between livestock barns, manure storages or anaerobic digesters and surrounding land uses. The objective of MDS is to minimize land use conflicts and nuisance complaints related to odour. MDS does not account for other nuisances such as noise or dust. MDS is made up of two separate, but related, formulae that act reciprocally to site both new development and new or expanding livestock facilities:

MDS I - provides the minimum distance separation between proposed new development and any existing livestock barns, manure storages and/or anaerobic digesters.

MDS II - provides the minimum distance separation between proposed new, expanding or remodelled livestock barns, manure storages and/or anaerobic digesters and existing or approved development.

The MDS Formulae are based on five factors:

  • the type of livestock housed
  • the potential number of livestock housed (based on barn capacity or lot size)
  • the percentage increase in the size of the operation
  • the type of manure system and storage
  • the type of encroaching land use

The calculated setback distances will vary according to these five factors, and will result in unique distances for different types of operations in different circumstances and locations. In Ontario's rural and prime agricultural areas, the Provincial Policy Statement, 2014, requires that new land uses, including the creation of lots and new or expanding livestock facilities, comply with the MDS Formulae. References to MDS are to be included in municipal planning documents such as zoning by-laws and official plans. Before a land use planning approval can be given, or a building permit can be issued, conformity to the MDS Document must be demonstrated.

Can I import an old MDS software file (*.mds) into AgriSuite?

AgriSuite is able to import and upgrade MDS 1.0.x files, (i.e. files with the .mds extension).

To import MDS 1.0.x files:

  1. Ensure the file(s) you wish to open are saved in the "My Documents" folder.
  2. Click on the "Import MDS 1.0.x File" option under the "Support & Maintenance" section of the AgriSuite start page.
  3. Highlight the file you wish to open from the list in the "Import MDS 1.0.x File" dialogue box.
  4. Click the "OK" button.
  5. A progress bar will appear to let you know the program is upgrading and importing the MDS 1.0.x data. It may take a few minutes for the MDS file to import.

For any MDS files imported to AgriSuite, you should confirm the information and the MDS setback calculation due to changes to the calculation of MDS setbacks. This is especially important for MDS I setbacks, where changes have been made to the calculation of potential design capacity used to determine Factor B.

Can the AgriSuite version of MDS be used to calculate MDS setbacks for older versions of MDS (i.e. 2006, 1995, 1976)?

No. The MDS software in AgriSuite cannot be used to calculate an MDS setback in accordance with previous versions of MDS (such as the 2006 version as described in Publication 707, the 1995 version or the 1976 Agricultural Code of Practice). The MDS software in AgriSuite can only be used to calculate MDS setbacks in accordance with the 2017 version of MDS, found in Publication 853, "The Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Document Formulae and Guidelines for Livestock Facility and Anaerobic Digester Odour Setbacks." Visit the OMAFRA website for more information about Publication 853.

To get a copy of Publication 853:

  • Order a PDF version of the document through the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.
  • Order a free hard copy version from ServiceOntario on their website or by calling 1-800-668-9938.

When can I start using the new MDS software?

The new MDS software found in AgriSuite can be used immediately. However, the revised MDS Formulae that the software supports, as found in Publication 853," does not come into effect until March 1, 2017. If you are undertaking an MDS calculation related to a Planning Act application (e.g. re-zoning) or the issuance of a building permit that will occur before March 1, 2017, it is not appropriate to use AgriSuite for this calculation. After March 1, 2017, AgriSuite can be used to calculate MDS for any matter related to a Planning Act application. For building permit applications after March 1, 2017, AgriSuite can be used to calculate MDS where the municipal zoning by-law refers to the "current" or 2017 version of MDS

A revision to the MDS Document - Publication 853 was made on March 27, 2017. If you have an older version of the PDF or hard copy of the document, we recommend that you get an updated copy..

What information is needed to complete an MDS calculation?

"The Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Document Formulae and Guidelines for Livestock Facility and Anaerobic Digester Odour Setbacks, Publication 853," can help you use the MDS software in AgriSuite. The publication contains the revised MDS I and II formulae that are used to determine the recommended separation distance between a livestock barn, manure storage or anaerobic digester and other land uses. The publication contains MDS definitions, factors, implementation guidelines, calculation forms, explanatory schematics and additional training information.

Section 6 of Publication 853 provides an overview of the MDS calculation process and describes the information and steps needed to complete the calculation of MDS I and II setbacks. In many areas, the MDS software in AgriSuite will automate steps described in Section 6 of Publication 853. For example, if a weighted average is required to determine the value of Factor A, the MDS software in AgriSuite will automatically compute this information.

To get a copy of Publication 853:

  • Order a PDF version of Publication 853 through the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.
  • Order a free hard copy version from ServiceOntario on their website or by calling 1-800-668-9938.

What do the various warning flags in the MDS software mean?

The MDS software in AgriSuite has a system of warning flags that alert you to various concerns or issues. In some instances, the flags will alert that an MDS calculation cannot be completed; in other instances, they flag missing information that is not critical to complete an MDS calculation but would be useful to have. The software will also identify caution flags that should be taken into consideration when using the MDS calculation to review a specific Planning Act or building permit application.

You may see these flags when using the MDS software:

Blue information triangle icon(Missing Information) – identifies missing information that is not critical to complete an MDS calculation but would be useful for using the MDS calculation to review a specific application (e.g. contact information for the applicant).

Red stop sign warning icon(Required Information) – Identifies missing information that is critical to complete an MDS calculation (e.g. lot size information for MDS I).

Yellow information triangle icon.(Caution) – Identifies information and issues that the user of the MDS calculation should take into consideration (e.g. barn capacity has been estimated for an empty structure).

When actual setback distances are known and have been entered into the MDS software, and the calculated MDS setback exceeds the actual setback, the ‘caution flag’ will also appear.

In some areas of the software, a white question mark in a blue circle will appear. Additional information will appear if you hover your mouse over the icon. For example, hovering over the question mark adjacent to the value of Factor A will show how the value of Factor A was determined.

How do I generate or print an MDS report in AgriSuite?

The print button located in the top left-hand corner of the worksheet allows you to print an MDS calculation that you are creating. The print options allow you to retain a copy of the MDS calculation for record keeping purposes.
In MDS I, where you may have more than one MDS calculation for a specific land use planning application, you can opt to print one or all MDS calculations.

Print preview and print (PDF) options are available on the bottom of the pop-up print screen. You will be notified if there is missing or additional information required, either on the print screen or in your worksheet. For example, some information (e.g. preparer’s contact information) must be completed before you are able to print an MDS calculation summary. Once you choose print, you will be asked to save the PDF report to your computer. AgriSuite does not print directly.

Where can I find additional information and assistance for MDS?

"The Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Document Formulae and Guidelines for Livestock Facility and Anaerobic Digester Odour Setbacks, Publication 853," can help you use the MDS software in AgriSuite. The publication contains the revised MDS I and II formulae that are used to determine the recommended separation distance between a livestock barn, manure storage or anaerobic digester and other land uses. The publication contains MDS definitions, factors, implementation guidelines, calculation forms, explanatory schematics and additional training information.

To get a copy of Publication 853:

  • Order a PDF version of Publication 853 through the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.
  • Order a free hard copy version from ServiceOntario on their website or by calling 1-800-668-9938.
A revision to the MDS Document - Publication 853 was made on March 27, 2017. If you have an older version of the PDF or hard copy of the document, we recommend that you get an updated copy.

What if I have a question not addressed in MDS Publication 853?

If you are a farmer or landowner, your first point of contact for inquires related to MDS should be your local municipality. They are responsible for the implementation of MDS as part of their review and approval of building permit applications and applications under the Planning Act. If you work for a municipality, a land use planning firm or a nutrient management consulting firm and have questions related to the MDS, contact an OMAFRA Rural Planner in your area.

Is training available for MDS?

Publication 853, "The Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) Document Formulae and Guidelines for Livestock Facility and Anaerobic Digester Odour Setbacks," includes much of the training material and information that was previously found on the OMAFRA website. If you work for a municipality, a land use planning firm or nutrient management consulting firm and are interested in additional training on MDS, contact an OMAFRA Rural Planner in your area.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA staff
Creation Date: 23 January 2015
Last Reviewed: 4 November 2016