Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder took counsel from an advisory committee and said he saw no need to hold up a regulation restricting the use of animal manure as fertilizer. The 19-member advisory group opposed a one-year delay in restrictions being imposed in the coming year after a study by Salisbury University found the state was not prepared to deal with the excess manure that could result.
The restrictions would affect more than 1,300 farms in the state. A majority of the acres that would be impacted by the rule are on the state’s Eastern Shore where poultry manure is widely used as fertilizer.
The Phosphorus Management Tool recommendation that was adopted in 2015 restricts or prohibits the application of phosphorus on fields where runoff is a risk. Currently, about 65,000 acres on 350 farms fall under the restriction, which was applied initially to fields with the highest soil phosphorus levels. Once the phase-in period is complete on January 1, 2022, about 228,000 acres on 1,600 farms statewide will be required to comply.
The state has a transportation program in place and currently hauls about 250,000 tons of manure annually to other farms. Each year, $1 million is provided to farms to subsidize the transportation, while another $400,000 is contributed by poultry companies. The study predicts more funding will needed, upwards of $3.5 million annually, to handle the additional manure that needs to be transported.
This article appeared in the February 2020 issue of Journal of Nutrient Management on page 8.
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