With more than 2 million acres of
farmland statewide, Maryland farmers play an
important role in protecting our soil and water
resources, especially the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland
farmers have taken a leadership role in the Bay
cleanup by working to control excess nutrients from
farm animals, fertilizers and other farming
In addition, farmers have been proactive on
Maryland's Tributary Teams in developing and
implementing watershed-based action plans aimed at
reducing nutrient pollution and improving water
quality in 10 key watershed basins.
- Install best management practices (BMPs)
-- such as field borders, livestock stream
crossings, animal waste storage structures and
poultry composters -- to prevent soil
erosion, control nutrient movement and protect
- Seek assistance from Soil Conservation
Districts to install BMPs.
- Have a nutrient management plan developed by
a certified nutrient management advisor. Such a
plan can help save money, provide the nutrients
required for crop growth and protect water
quality. For more information, call the local
Soil Conservation District or Maryland
Cooperative Extension office. Numbers are listed
in the blue government pages of the phone
Maryland's Nutrient Management Program helps
farmers with proper management, handling and
application of nutrients. Management of crop
nutrients contained in fertilizers and manure
protects our waterways.
Nutrient management services are provided by
certified nutrient management consultants, who work
directly with farmers to balance fertilizer use
with crop nutrient needs. Using soil tests, manure
analyses and the latest technology to make crop
recommendations, consultants provide farmers with
site-specific recommendations tailored to their
The nation's first certification initiative for
private consultants and fertilizer company
technicians was launched in Maryland. Qualified
individuals are certified as nutrient management
providers and given continuing education courses by
the Maryland Department of Agriculture in
conjunction with Maryland Cooperative Extension.
The program is a major tool in Maryland's efforts
to meet nutrient reduction commitments of the Bay
agreement. We're well on the way. In 1999, farmers
are expected to exceed the original goal of
implementing 1.2 million acres of cropland by the
year 2000 under Maryland's Nutrient Management
Water Quality Improvement
During the closing hours of the 1998 legislative
session, the Maryland General Assembly passed the
Water Quality Improvement Act. The act, which some
have described as the most comprehensive
agricultural nutrient control legislation in the
country, requires nutrient management plans for
virtually all Maryland farms over the next several
years. It also represents a major philosophical
change in the way voluntary agricultural water
quality programs have been delivered since
Maryland's Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort began.
Historically, nitrogen has been accepted as the
nutrient of greatest concern to water quality. The
new legislation changes this aspect of the Nutrient
Management Program with a requirement that all
farmers implement a nutrient management plan based
on both nitrogen and phosphorus, beginning in
Soil Conservation Districts:
a statewide system for local
Long before the term "environmentalist" was
coined, field specialists from Maryland's Soil
Conservation Districts were working with landowners
to keep our farmland productive and our waterways
clean and healthy. Established more than 50 years
ago, Maryland's Soil Conservation Districts date
back to the Dust Bowl years, when Congress created
for the first time a national program to control
and prevent soil erosion in local communities
across the nation. Today, there are more than 3,000
Soil Conservation Districts throughout the United
States working to provide local solutions to
natural resource issues.
The real work being done by Maryland's Soil
Conservation Districts is taking place in the field
-- on the dairy farm that borders a local
tributary, at the construction site for a new
suburban shopping center or the farm field adjacent
to a local drainage ditch. The Soil Conservation
Districts ensure that local issues -- such as
poor water quality in a neighborhood stream, loss
of wildlife habitat or flooding concerns --
In recent years, Soil Conservation Districts
have taken on many additional responsibilities and
will continue to preserve Maryland's rural legacy
by developing and promoting farming practices that
are both environmentally and economically sound. A
strong agricultural industry and a healthy
environment go hand in hand.
In search of greener
pastures: a horse owner's guide to protecting the
Maryland's horse country seems a far cry from
the sandy shorelines associated with the Chesapeake
Bay. But Maryland's horse country is also Bay
country, with every rolling hill and grassy meadow
linked to the Chesapeake by a 17,000-mile network
of streams and rivers.
The bad news is that soil from eroding pastures
and rainwater runoff from unmanaged animal waste
carry nutrients and sediment to the Bay and its
tributaries. Scientists have identified this
"over-nutrification" as a major cause of the Bay's
There is, however, good news. If you own horses
in Maryland, you can help clean up the Bay and its
tributaries. By adopting a few simple best
management practices, specifically designed for
landowners with horses, you can join the thousands
of citizens, businesses and communities working
together for a cleaner, healthier Bay.
Keep your pasture
- Select pasture sites carefully.
- Inspect established pastures for
- Test soil.
- Reseed bare ground, rills and gullies.
- Clip pastures to the proper height.
- Switch to rotational grazing.
- Store manure properly.
- Compost manure.
- Establish vegetative cover.
- Keep animals out of streams.
Store and use chemicals
- Buy only what you need, and use what you
- Store pesticides in a locked, dry,
- Read and follow label instructions exactly
- Whenever possible, select less toxic
For more information or free assistance in
planning or implementing these best management
practices, check the blue government pages of your
phone book for the number of your local Soil
Conservation District or Maryland Cooperative