After decades of effort, the voluntary, collaborative approach to restoring the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay— the largest estuary in the United States—has not worked and, in fact, is failing. A diverse group of 57 senior scientists and policymakers have joined forces to save the Bay. This is our plan.

Maryland’s Outsized Manure Problem

(Posted by Dawn Stoltzfus.)

Today, standing in front of the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, to represent the enormous amount of chicken litter produced each year in Maryland (a pile twice as high as the stadium!), Environment Maryland released a new report detailing the problems with Maryland’s current manure regulations and, in particular, with too much phosphorus in our soil and our waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay.

Among the findings in An Unsustainable Path: Why Maryland’s Manure Pollution Rules Are Failing to Protect the Chesapeake Bay are:

  • Large-scale chicken growing on Maryland’s Eastern Shore generates high volumes of manure that contain more phosphorus than can be used by local crops. Soil test data show that more than 60 percent of soil samples from four Maryland counties had more phosphorus than crops need.
  • Maryland’s current rules allow farmers to spread manure on fields where phosphorus is likely to run off and pollute the bay, and they appear not to be solving the problem. In at least one major chicken-producing region, water quality has not improved since Maryland adopted its current rules. In the Choptank River, phosphorus levels have risen by an average of 1.9 percent per year from 2000 to 2008.

The report is particularly timely as Maryland considers updates to its rules on how and when manure and sewage sludge (or biosolids) are spread on the land. In a recent letter, the Senior Scientists & Policymakers for the Bay urged Governor O’Malley to issue rules that treat manure in much the same way as sewage sludge.

3 Responses to Maryland’s Outsized Manure Problem

  1. Will Mr. Baker and his organization (The Chesapeake Bay Foundation)be pushing the legislature to make the necessary major changes to Maryland Nutrient Management Planning rules and regulations? I have been saying for the pass 10 years that the NMP’s being written in MD haven’t been worth the paper they are written on. PA has a much better NMP program then MD and they utilize the Soil Conservation District personnel to approve the NMP’s and that they are being implemented. There is more that should be addressed in a NMP than the amount of nutrients being applied to cropland. The nutrient runoff from animal concentration areas (barnyards, feedlots, sacrifice lots, etc.) need to be addressed. Over-grazed pasture and livestock have access to streams also need to be addressed. But once again will the CBF being doing their utmost to ensure that changes are made to the NMP law.

  2. How long are we going to keep this up? Over and over again all the experts are saying the same thing. We worry about how local communities down the Bay are going to afford to meet their TMDL responsibilities when they wouldn’t be in that position if the primary source of the pollution was finally controlled.

  3. There must be more than farm land runoff that contributes to the polution of the Bay. Industrial waste from companies are also to be scrutinized. Identify the source of this Industrial pollution and stop it.