More salvos are being fired in Maryland as efforts to clean up nutrient loading in the Chesapeake Bay region move forward.
After environmentalists blamed farmers, in part, for the lack of progress, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley jumped to their defense in a July editorial in the Baltimore Sun.
“Over the last several years, Maryland’s farmers have been some of the strongest partners in our efforts,” he wrote. “Last fall, they planted a record 429,818 acres of cover crops, preventing an estimated 2.58 million pounds of nitrogen from entering the bay.”
Meanwhile, farmers in the region are angry over the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s proposed state manure and fertilizer management regulations, saying too much of the burden is falling on them.
By 2014, the spreading of fertilizer within 35 feet of surface water, and spraying or injecting fertilizers within 10 feet of surface water, would be prohibited.
Waterside grazing would be banned except through approval through local soil conservation districts, and a 10-foot buffer zone also would apply to fertilizing forages, as outlined in the proposed regulations.
Fertilizer-application bans would apply between November and March, and those using organic fertilizers would have to plant cover crops no later than Nov. 15. Biosolids would have to be held for more than 5 months before being spread, forcing some famers to build more storage.
Blake Vince, a strip-tiller from Merlin, Ontario, Canada, received a Nuffield farming scholarship. His topic of study will be “Utilization Of Cover Crops To Reduce…