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MD ag department launches “Manure Happens” campaign



March 3, 2016, Annapolis, MD – Now that spring is almost here, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has launched a public education campaign to inform citizens about what to expect as farmers begin to prepare their fields for planting.

The campaign features a series of educational advertisements that will run in newspapers and on mobile and social media sites during the month of March. The purpose of the outreach effort is to help citizens understand how farmers use manure as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner along with steps they must take to prevent manure from impacting water quality in local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

“Centuries ago, farmers discovered that manure makes a great fertilizer and soil conditioner,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Today, farmers use a wide range of practices to protect local waterways from nutrient runoff, while following the latest environmental rules and guidelines.”

Maryland’s new Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations are being phased in over the next several years to help farmers protect waterways from phosphorus runoff. In addition, Maryland’s nutrient management regulations prohibit farmers from spreading manure on their fields in winter. March 1 is the first opportunity for farmers to recycle manure generated over the winter as a crop fertilizer. To further protect water resources, Maryland farmers are required to incorporate or inject manure into the soil within 48 hours. This helps to reduce surface runoff, improve nutrient retention, and for nearby neighbors, cut down on odors — but not completely.

“Over the next several weeks, people who live near farms will begin to notice the unmistakable smell of manure,” said Bartenfelder. “We want folks to understand how things work on the farm and to be prepared for slow moving farm machinery on local roads, along with the sights, smells, and sounds of Maryland’s working family farms.”

The public education ads direct visitors to the department’s centralized “Manure Resources” website at mda.maryland.gov/manure. In addition to providing citizens with information on how farmers recycle manure resources, the website offers resources for farmers who currently use chemical fertilizers and are considering making the switch to manure and farmers who sell manure resources as part of their farm’s business model. The page provides links to additional resources available for farmers, including grants, tax credits, technical guidance and scientific research on the benefits of manure as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment. In addition, the website includes links to Maryland’s nutrient management regulations and phosphorus management initiative.