Manure Manager

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Maryland ag reminds farmers of winter restrictions


November 2, 2015
By Maryland Department of Agriculture

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November 2, 2015, Annapolis, MD – Maryland’s Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder reminds farmers that application of chemical fertilizer and organic nutrients is prohibited between November 16 and February 28 according to the state’s nutrient management regulations.

These blackout dates will change next year when Maryland’s updated nutrient management regulations phase in for this practice.

The department’s nutrient management regulations prohibit spreading of commercial fertilizer and stackable manure between November 16 and February 28; require stackable manure to be stored in a structure or stacked according to the department’s temporary field stockpiling requirements if storage is not available; and outline specific situations in which non-stackable manure can be applied in the winter months. An individual’s nutrient management plan would reflect these conditions and farmers are urged to review their plans carefully. The department reminds farmers that fall nitrogen applications on small grains are prohibited if a fall nitrate test indicates levels greater than 10 parts per million for wheat or 15 parts per million for barley. Moreover, cover crops must be planted when organic nutrient sources are applied to fallow ground in the fall.

“Maryland farmers are leaders in protecting our state’s natural resources, especially the Chesapeake Bay,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “Nutrient management plans serve as both an important crop management tool and an environmental protection tool. I encourage farmers to read and follow their plans.”

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To further protect water quality, beginning July 1, 2016, all nutrient applications will be prohibited between November 2 and February 28 for farms on the Eastern Shore and between November 16 and February 28 for farms on the Western Shore. Farmers with fewer than 50 animal units have until March 1, 2020. Manure deposited directly by livestock is not restricted at any time of year.

Farmers or nutrient applicators with questions about winter application of fertilizers should call their nutrient management consultant or regional nutrient management specialist.