Maryland makes gains for the Chesapeake Bay
By Earl F. Hance
David A. Fahrenthold’s March 1 front-page story, “Rising with a bullet among top pollutants: Number Two,” missed an important point. Maryland, perhaps unlike states in other areas of the country, has the laws, science and technology in place to address land application and alternative uses of manure. In addition, recent documentation by Gov. Martin O’Malley’s BayStat initiative shows that agricultural impacts on water quality are declining.
Appropriate manure application to fields is regulated under the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998. Today, 99.5 percent of farmers have the nutrient-management plans that are required by law. Enforcement actions are underway for the 12 farmers who are out of compliance and for any who are found to be not adhering to their plan.
Nationally recognized experts at the University of Maryland and elsewhere provide the scientific research and agronomic basis for manure applications to land. The soil conservation districts in each county help farmers apply these technologies and best-management practices. In addition, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has transported almost 600,000 tons of manure from areas with soil that doesn’t need more nutrients to those that can use it.
The private sector is stepping in with new ways to use manure through projects such as Perdue’s organic fertilizer pellet plant. Companies and governments will soon be able to buy nutrient credits from farms that have done more than required to reduce nutrients.
BayStat is proving that efforts by farmers, researchers and other technical experts to reduce the impact of manure from Maryland farms are paying off.
The writer is Maryland’s secretary of agriculture.
| March 8, 2010; 7:05 PM ET
Categories: Chesapeake Bay, HotTopic, Maryland
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