United States
A recent report by Island County Public Health showed that surface water in the area tested high in fecal coliform, but the National Park Service worked with the Whidbey Island Conservation District to try and solve the problem.

Source identification testing traced much of the water contamination to agricultural operations being performed on land owned by the National Park Service.

A farmer operating under a permit from the National Park Service has a concentrated animal feedlot on the park service's land. According to a report on the operation, "years of system neglect and poor maintenance practices by the farms" and "benign neglect by NPS officials" led to a partial failure of the farm's existing manure containment system. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in News
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for the 2018 Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP).

The AMMP is one of two programs designed by CDFA to reduce dairy and livestock greenhouse gas emissions. The program will provide $19 to 33 million in grants to California dairy and livestock operators to implement non-digester manure management practices that reduce methane emissions.

Applicants must access the 2018 Request for Grant Applications at www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/ for detailed program requirements and application instructions.

CDFA has partnered with the State Water Resources Control Board to utilize its online application site, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST). All prospective applicants must register for a FAAST account at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov to apply. Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. PDT.

CDFA will present three workshops and two webinars on the 2018 AMMP competitive solicitation process. Workshops and webinars will feature an overview of the program and requirements, a review of the application questions, a live demonstration of the online application system and more.

There is no cost to attend the workshops; however, space is limited and CDFA request that attendees register in advance. To register, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  with your name and contact information, the workshop you would like to attend, and the number of seats required.

Workshops and webinars will be held at these locations on the following dates:

Eureka – Monday, April 9, 2018
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Humboldt County Agricultural Building
5630 South Broadway Street
Eureka, CA 95501

Santa Rosa – Tuesday, April 10, 2018
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner
133 Aviation Boulevard, Suite 110
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Modesto – Monday, April 16, 2018
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Stanislaus County Agricultural Building
3800 Cornucopia Way, Suite B
Modesto, CA 95358

This meeting will also be available as a webinar for remote attendees.
Webinar – Tuesday, April 17, 2018
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

To register for the two webinars, please visit the program webpage at: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/.

All prospective applicants should access the AMMP webpage (https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/) for information regarding additional, free-of-charge technical assistance conducted by non-profit organizations, Resource Conservation Districts and California academic institutions to assist in the submission of AMMP applications.

Prospective applicants may contact CDFA's Grants Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  with general program questions.
Published in News
Hammond, WI - The new Western Wisconsin Conservation Council is a nonprofit organization led by local farmers and focused on protecting the region's watersheds and the way of life and commerce they support.

Tom Zwald, who milks 700 cows and runs about 2,000 acres as part of Bomaz Farms near Hammond, said this farmer-led watershed council is unique in that it will not be limited to one watershed but will include all area watersheds, including those for the St. Croix and Kinnickinnic rivers. | READ MORE
Published in News
Columbus, OH — Two state lawmakers have proposed borrowing $500 million over five years to fuel efforts to dam the flow of nutrients feeding the toxic algal blooms that each summer coat parts of Lake Erie in a green slime.

The move is designed to put some money behind past legislation that aims to push farmers toward smarter use of manure and chemical fertilizers, finding alternatives to open lake dumping for material dredged from ports and harbors, and otherwise tackling the problem.

The Clean Lake Capital Fund, proposed by Reps. Steve Arndt (R., Port Clinton) and Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green), would funnel $100 million a year into such projects. The idea is for Ohio to fund such projects similar to the way it funds brick-and-mortar projects. The latest $2.6 billion, two-year capital budget is already awaiting the governor's signature, so Gardner said he will look for other avenues to have the bill funded. | For the full article, CLICK HERE.
Published in News
Marin County, Calif. - On one organic dairy farm, the feed truck runs on cow power.

"I was able to put together a fully electric truck to feed the cows that's powered by the cow's waste. We claim that's the first one in the world to do that," says Albert Straus, CEO of Straus Family Creamery in Marin County, California.

When cow manure breaks down, it releases methane, a potent global warming gas. But that methane can be captured and used to make electricity. Using technology called a methane digester, Strauss has been converting his cow's manure into energy for the last 14 years. The process produces enough electricity to power the whole farm. And now, that energy is also being used to charge his electric truck. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
Boardman, OR - An imperiled mega-dairy near Boardman will be allowed to continue operating under a settlement it reached with state regulators Wednesday.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture agreed to let Lost Valley Farm, a 7,288-acre ranch permitted to house 30,000 cows, to produce massive amounts of wastewater and manure, despite a year of repeated violations of its permits. The state had threatened in a February lawsuit to temporarily shut down its operations.

Under the new agreement, Lost Valley can generate up to 65,000 gallons of wastewater per day compared with the 514,000 the dairy estimated it would need. It also must comply with other terms of its permit, such as notifying the state if there is a wastewater or manure spill. And the dairy must remove 24.4 million gallons of liquid manure from its overloaded storage facilities by summer, so that it can avoid polluting local water sources during a heavy rainstorm. | For the full story, click here
Published in News
Bath Township, OH - Renergy Inc., held an open house on in mid-March at its Dovetail Energy LLC Bioenergy Facility in Bath Township and provided tours for several hours so residents could experience first-hand the technology being used there.

Cari Oberfield, marketing strategist for Renergy Inc., who attended the open house, said the waste processed at the anaerobic digestion facility consists of 70 percent food waste from commercial manufacturing, 20 percent biosolids and one percent hog manure. | READ MORE
Published in News
Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin will soon have significant new resources to further their efforts to protect water quality.

Ohio farm organizations and their partners will work with farmers to expand the number of individuals who have Nutrient Management Plans. In addition, the project will increase the use of soil testing to achieve improved nutrient management.

A series of workshops will provide farmers with individualized Nutrient Management Plans. Ahead of the workshops, farmers will be advised on obtaining soil tests from which the Nutrient Management Plan will be written. The plans will be completed using a program developed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in News
This February was the celebration of a great partnership of California dairies and California Bioenergy (CalBio).
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
It's likely not the first thing you think of when you see elephant dung, but this material turns out to be an excellent source of cellulose for paper manufacturing in countries where trees are scarce, scientists report. And in regions with plenty of farm animals such as cows, upcycling manure into paper products could be a cheap and environmentally sound method to get rid of this pervasive agricultural waste.

The researchers are presenting their results today at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 13,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

The idea for the project germinated on Crete, where Alexander Bismarck, Ph.D., noticed goats munching on summer-dry grass in the small village where he was vacationing. "I realized what comes out in the end is partially digested plant matter, so there must be cellulose in there," he recalls.

"Animals eat low-grade biomass containing cellulose, chew it and expose it to enzymes and acid in their stomach, and then produce manure. Depending on the animal, up to 40 percent of that manure is cellulose, which is then easily accessible," Bismarck says. So, much less energy and fewer chemical treatments should be needed to turn this partially digested material into cellulose nanofibers, relative to starting with raw wood, he conjectured.

After working with goat manure, Bismarck, who is at the University of Vienna, Austria, his postdoc Andreas Mautner, Ph.D., and graduate students Nurul Ain Kamal and Kathrin Weiland moved on to dung from horses, cows and eventually elephants. The supply of raw material is substantial: Parks in Africa that are home to hundreds of elephants produce tons of dung every day, and enormous cattle farms in the U.S. and Europe yield mountains of manure, according to Mautner.

The researchers treat the manure with a sodium hydroxide solution. This partially removes lignin -- which can be used later as a fertilizer or fuel -- as well as other impurities, including proteins and dead cells. To fully remove lignin and to produce white pulp for making paper, the material has to be bleached with sodium hypochlorite. The purified cellulose requires little if any grinding to break it down into nanofibers in preparation for use in paper, in contrast to conventional methods.

"You need a lot of energy to grind wood down to make nanocellulose," Mautner says. But with manure as a starting material, "you can reduce the number of steps you need to perform, simply because the animal already chewed the plant and attacked it with acid and enzymes. You inexpensively produce a nanocellulose that has the same or even better properties than nanocellulose from wood, with lower energy and chemical consumption," he says.

The dung-derived nanopaper could be used in many applications, including as reinforcement for polymer composites or filters that can clean wastewater before it's discharged into the environment, Bismarck says. His team is working with an industrial consortium to further explore these possibilities. The nanopaper could also be used to write on, he says.

The researchers are also investigating whether the process can be made even more sustainable, by first producing biogas from manure and then extracting cellulose fibers from the residue. Biogas, which is mostly methane and carbon dioxide, can then be used as a fuel for generating electricity or heat.
Published in News
Reading, Pennsylvania - All communities depend on clean water and that supply of clean water depends on the actions of members in the community and outside of it.

The small city of Kutztown lies within the Saucony Creek watershed in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The watershed is mostly agricultural, dotted with small family crop and livestock farms, and the activities on these farms affect water supplies near and far.

Saucony Creek itself feeds into Lake Ontelaunee, the water supply for Reading, Pennsylvania. Kutztown gets its water from wells that, because of the soils and geology of the area, are strongly affected by activities on the surrounding landscape.

In the early 2000s, the nitrates in Kutztown's water supply were approaching the maximum safe levels for drinking water. The nitrates were related in large part to farms in the area.

This situation energized a partnership of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private entities to ensure the safety of the city's water supply, in part by helping local farmers install conservation practices that protect and improve water quality. As part of this effort, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) delivered additional funding for voluntary conservation assistance through its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). 

NRCS Collaborates with Conservation-Minded Farmers
For years, dairy farmer Daniel Weaver faced challenges that made his life harder and affected water quality in his area. He hauled manure every day because he had nowhere to store it. And, his cows watered and roamed in a branch to Saucony Creek that runs through his property. This reduced the health of the stream and of his herd. That is before he formed a relationship with NRCS staff at his local USDA Service Center.

With NRCS's help, Weaver was able to implement conservation practices that improve the operations of his farm in a way that also protects the ground and surface water flowing through his property. First, NRCS helped him develop a nutrient management plan for his property. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding, commonly known as EQIP, enabled him to install a manure storage tank that alleviates the need to haul manure daily. The new storage capacity allows him to control the rate and timing of manure application on his farm, which are key factors in achieving healthy soil and clean water. He also says that it has helped him save on labor and fertilizer.

"I think it should be mandatory for farmers to have a manure pit," he said.

Streambank fencing and an animal crossing were installed to keep cows from contaminating streams and creeks that crossed their pastures and therefore the downstream rivers and lakes. In the five years since installation, vegetation has grown on the stream banks, creating a buffer for the stream and the crossing controls the cows' access, thereby limiting pathogens and nutrients from entering the water.

Not too far away, Harlan Burkholder owns and operates a 100-acre row crop and beef cattle farm. He also worked with NRCS and other partners to improve water quality in Saucony Creek. When Burkholder bought his farm in 2005, manure was being stored on the ground near the creek that runs through the property because there was limited space near the barn. He had to spread manure on the fields often to keep it from piling up.

Realizing that it's best to spread manure in the growing season and store it in the winter to avoid runoff, he developed a nutrient management plan. After applying for NRCS financial assistance, he worked with NRCS to co-invest in a manure storage structure. Now, Burkholder is able to store manure over the winter so he can spread it at optimal times.

He is grateful for NRCS's help. "As a beginner, there's no way I could have spent money on something like this," he said.

Burkholder also knows the importance of keeping soil healthy with no-till and cover crops. As a 100-pecent no-till farmer, Burkholder says, "I have no intentions of doing anything else. It's working."

It's working so well that he's sharing his knowledge and experiences with other farmers.

Results
Together, NRCS and its partners have helped more than 20 farmers in the watershed get conservation on the ground. In fact, NRCS has invested more than $2 million in targeted assistance in this area alone.

"The voluntary efforts of these farmers that protect the water in Saucony Creek also has a positive impact on the groundwater in aquifers beneath it," said Martin Lowenfish, the team lead for NRCS's landscape conservation initiatives. "Kutztown is home to 14,000 residents who rely on drinking water from those aquifers."

And, the residents of Kutztown are taking notice. Just two years after the city's water treatment plant was updated with equipment to remove nitrates from the raw water, the plant is running at minimum capacity because the nitrate levels have been reduced by almost half thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers and ranchers upstream. Now, the treatment plant's water is within legal safe drinking water requirements and treatment costs also have been significantly reduced.

This is just one impact among many that show how a little conservation can yield big results for communities downstream.


Published in Profiles
A ditch containing woodchips may look unassuming—but with a name like bioreactor it's guaranteed to be up to more than you think.

Bioreactors, which are woodchip-filled ditches and trenches, are often used near crop fields to filter the water running off of them. The woodchips enhance a natural process called denitrification that prevents too much nitrogen from getting into other bodies of water like rivers and streams.

"This process is a natural part of the nitrogen cycle that is done by bacteria in soil all around the world," explains Laura Christianson. Christianson is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois. "In a bioreactor, we give these natural bacteria extra food—the carbon in the woodchips—to do their job. These bacteria clean the nitrate from the water."

Because it is the bacteria that do this water-cleaning process, it's called a biological process, hence the name bioreactor. By giving them extra food (the woodchips have much more carbon than the surrounding soil), they are "super-powering" this natural process.

"Nitrate in ag drainage is often 100 percent pinned on fertilizer, but it's actually much more complicated," Christianson adds. "In short, nitrate in drainage comes from both fertilizer and manure applications and also importantly from natural nitrogen that exists in the soil."

Christianson studies how well different types of bioreactors take nitrogen out of the water. Her team's work has shown they are effective in the Midwest. Next, they wanted to test them in the Mid-Atlantic region, particularly the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"Bioreactors are a farmer-friendly practice that has gotten a lot of interest in the Midwest, and so it made sense to see if bioreactors could also work for ag ditch drainage in the Mid-Atlantic," she says. "Why did we need to retest them? The key scientific question had to do with the different environment. Differences in the landscape between the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions required further testing."

The researchers tested three different kinds of bioreactors in the Chesapeake Bay area. They all treated water that was either headed to a drainage ditch or already flowing through a drainage ditch.

One was a bioreactor placed in a ditch. Another was a bioreactor next to a ditch. The last type was a sawdust wall that treated groundwater flowing very slowly under the ground to the ditch.

The group's findings showed that all three types worked in reducing the amount of nitrogen headed from the field into nearby water.

This is good news for watersheds. Too much nitrogen throws off the balance of nitrogen in bodies of water and can set off a process that results in the death of the water's plants and fish. For this current research, the goal was to limit the nitrogen getting from the Mid-Atlantic into the Chesapeake Bay.

The next step in this research, Christianson says, is to further test bioreactors in this area and others so they are better constructed and more effective.

"This is a relatively easy idea that cleans up water without taking much of farmers' time or land," she says. "We need practical solutions like this so farmers can continue to produce food and fiber, while also protecting natural resources. I like that it's a natural process; we're just enhancing it. There's a nice simplicity to it."

Learn more about this work in Agricultural & Environmental Letters. Christianson's research is also highlighted at https://www.agronomy.org/about-agronomy/at-work/laura-christianson. The research was funded by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.
Published in News
Beef and dairy farmers around the world are looking for ways to reduce methane emissions from their herds to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a global priority. To help meet this goal, researchers from Canada and Australia teamed-up for a comprehensive three-year study to find the best feeding practices that reduce methane emissions while still supporting profitable dairy and beef cattle production.

"We need to know how feed affects methane production, but we also need to know how it affects other aspects of the farm operation, like daily gains in animals, milk production, and feed efficiency. Farmers want to help the environment, and they need to know what the trade-offs will be, which is why we took a holistic approach looking at the overall impacts," explains Dr. Karen Beauchemin, beef researcher from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

Researchers and farm system modellers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agriculture Victoria (Australia), and the University of Melbourne, worked together to examine three feed supplements.

Methane inhibitor supplement 3-nitrooxypropanol (3NOP) could reduce costs and increase profits

3NOP is a promising commercial feed supplement that can be given to cattle to inhibit the enzyme methyl coenzyme M reductase – an enzyme responsible for creating methane in the animal's rumen (first stomach). After blocking the enzyme, 3NOP quickly breaks down in the animal's rumen to simple compounds that are already present in nature.

AAFC's Dr. Beauchemin studied the short- and long-term impacts of feeding 3NOP to beef cattle and shared her findings within the broader study.

"We now have clear evidence that 3NOP can have a long-term positive effect on reducing methane emissions and improving animal performance. We saw a 30-50% reduction in methane over a long period of time and a 3-5% improvement in feed efficiency," Beauchemin says.

Producing milk, gaining weight, and creating methane all take energy that a cow fuels by eating. Cattle eating a diet that contained the 3NOP supplement produced less methane. And, because there was less methane more energy could be used by the animal for growth. When using this supplement, cattle consumed less feed to gain a pound of body weight compared to control animals.

"What is also great is that the inhibitor worked just as effectively no matter what type of feed the cattle were eating," Beauchemin explains. "We don't know the actual market price of the supplement yet because it is still going through approvals for registration in Canada and the U.S. That will be important for farmers who want to calculate the cost-benefit of using 3NOP to reduce methane emissions from their cows and enhance profits."

The Story of Nitrate
Microorganisms in the cattle's rumen need nitrogen to be able to efficiently break down food for the animal to absorb. Nitrate is a form of non-protein nitrogen similar to that found in urea, a compound used in cattle diets. When nitrate is fed to cattle, it is converted to ammonia which is then used by the micro-organisms. During this process, nitrogen in the nitrate works like a powerful magnet that is able to hold onto and attract hydrogen. This leaves less hydrogen available in the rumen to attach to carbon to make methane, thus reducing the amount of methane produced.

Researchers in Canada found that adding nitrate to the diet of beef cattle reduces methane production by 20 percent in the short-term (up to three weeks), and after 16 weeks it still reduced methane up to 12 percent. In addition, feeding nitrate improved the gain-to-feed ratio. However, administering the correct dosage is extremely important, as too much nitrate can make an animal ill. So it is recommended this method should be used with care and caution.

Dr. Richard Eckard, a researcher from the University of Melbourne explained "I understand that in Canada, most forages are not that low in protein. But in the rangelands of northern Australia, the protein content in the forage is extremely low. It is possible that adding nitrate to Australian cattle feed may be able to improve the feeding regime from the current use of urea, but it depends on the price."

To supplement or not supplement with wheat, corn, or barley?

In the short term, wheat effectively reduced methane production by 35 percent compared with corn or barley grain; but, over time cattle were able to adapt to the change in feed and the methane inhibitory effect disappeared. Essentially, after 10 weeks, methane production was the same for corn, barley, and wheat.

The study also showed genetic variation in cows where about 50 percent of the cows that were fed wheat remained low in their methane emissions, even for as long as 16 weeks. However, the other cows adapted to the wheat diet and had methane emissions similar to, or even greater than those fed diets containing either corn or barley. Based on genetics, some cows are more adaptable than others and, in the long-term, it is more difficult to reduce the amount of methane they produce.

For dairy cows, Dr. Peter Moate, Dairy Researcher with Agriculture Victoria, was particularly intrigued about the link between milk fat, yield and methane emissions.

"We found that feeding cows wheat increased milk yield but fat levels decreased. For the farmer, it really depends on what they want to achieve in order to say whether this makes sense economically," explained Moate. "Overall, feeding wheat didn't have the long-term ability to reduce methane emissions, so it really couldn't be recommended as a best practice to achieve this type of goal."

Lessons learned
"Our better understanding of feeding regimes will make a difference for farmers, but more importantly this research has really helped us understand more precisely the volume of greenhouse gases (GHGs) the industry is producing under different feed regimes. This is powerful information for policy makers," stated Beauchemin.

This is particularly true for countries that have implemented or are thinking about putting a price on carbon or a carbon trading scheme in place to reduce GHG emissions.

"By adopting different farming methods to reduce GHGs, farmers may be able to sell these "carbon credits" for revenue. But the key is to prove that these farming methods work and warrant being officially recognized for carbon credits. This work is one step closer in this process" explains Beauchemin.

While this project has wrapped-up, the work has not ended. Researchers in both countries unanimously agree that they will continue to help farmers and the industry find solutions to reducing their carbon footprint.
Published in Beef
There's a farm in Arkansas growing soybeans, corn, and rice that is aiming to be the most scientifically advanced farm in the world. Soil samples are run through powerful machines to have their microbes genetically sequenced, drones are flying overhead taking hyperspectral images of the crops, and soon supercomputers will be crunching the massive volumes of data collected.

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), working with the University of Arkansas and Glennoe Farms, hope this project, which brings together molecular biology, biogeochemistry, environmental sensing technologies, and machine learning, will revolutionize agriculture and create sustainable farming practices that benefit both the environment and farms.

If successful, they envision being able to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and enhance soil carbon uptake, thus improving the long-term viability of the land, while at the same time increasing crop yields. For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in News
Arlington, Virginia - Frank Mitloehner, PhD, will debunk myths about animal agriculture's environmental impact at the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 2018 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 3-4, at the Renaissance Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Mitloehner is a professor and extension air quality specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. He is an expert on agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry. Overall, he conducts research that is directly relevant to understanding and mitigating of air emissions from livestock operations, as well as the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities.

"There is a lot of misinformation about how much animal agriculture actually contributes to the nation's greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental impact," said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. "With the industry's commitment to continuous improvement, Summit attendees will find Mitloehner's research enlightening and refreshing."

The Alliance also announced that the Summit has been approved for eight continuing education credits by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. ARPAS members in attendance can request credit using www.arpas.org or by contacting Cornicha Henderson at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

To register, visit http://animalagalliance.org/summit. Be sure to check the Summit website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtags #AAA18 and #ProtectYourRoots for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call (703) 562-5160.
Published in News
Calgren Dairy Fuels is becoming known as a world leader in biogas production and utilization, with good reason. Of the 18 dairy digester projects that were recently awarded more than $35 million in funding by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, seven of them involve Calgren.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
Assistant professor of environmental studies Cassie Gurbisz was among 14 co-authors of a new research article published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The article reports the positive impact of long-term nutrient reductions on an important and valuable ecosystem in the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists indicate the resurgence of underwater grasses supports nutrient reductions from EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). This, along with conservation incentives, has resulted in a healthier Chesapeake Bay.

Jonathan Lefcheck, PhD, formerly of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and now at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, along with Gurbisz and 12 co-authors, shows that a 23 percent reduction of average nitrogen levels in the Bay and an eight percent reduction of average phosphorus levels have resulted in a four-fold increase in abundance of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) in the Chesapeake Bay. This ecosystem recovery is an unprecedented event; based on the breadth of data available and a sophisticated data analysis, this is the biggest resurgence of underwater grasses ever recorded in the world.

The researchers employed advanced analytical tools to definitively show how the reduction of excess pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus are the cause of this ecosystem recovery. To link land use and Chesapeake Bay status, researchers analyzed data in two different ways: one focusing on the cascade of nutrients from the land to the waterways, and one showing what happens to SAV once the nutrients are in the water.

Gurbisz said she participated in a series of workshops with scientists who study various aspects of SAV ecology. She said she helped develop the conceptual basis of the project and was excited that the work generated relevant results related to restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

The published findings are a collaborative effort between the following agencies: Virginia Institute of Marine Science, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program, U.S. Geological Survey, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, St. Mary's College of Maryland, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Published in News
Annapolis, MD – With the spring planting season drawing near, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has launched its 2018 "Manure Happens" public education campaign to help citizens understand how and why farmers recycle manure as a natural crop fertilizer and soil conditioner.

The 2018 campaign includes information on how farmers using different types of farming practices apply manure to their fields, along with the with the steps they must take to protect water quality in local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The ads will run in local newspapers, websites, and social media throughout the month of March.

"Today's consumers want to know everything about how their food is produced, including the environmental impacts of production practices," said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. "The 'Manure Happens' campaign aims to address any concerns the public may have regarding the use of manure as a fertilizer. In upcoming weeks, you will start see—and smell—farmers spreading manure on their fields when conditions are right for spring planting. Please be considerate, and remember to share the road with our farmers when driving in farm country."

Farmers using conventional farming techniques till manure into the soil. This improves nutrient retention and reduces odors for nearby neighbors. Farmers who have switched to no-till farming practices to reduce erosion and re-build their soil's health, grow their crops without disturbing the soil. These farmers apply manure to the surface of the soil and are required to install additional protections like 35-foot buffers to protect local streams from runoff.

Maryland's Nutrient Management Regulations prohibit farmers from spreading manure on their fields in winter or when the ground is frozen.

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 manure into the soil within 48 hours if they are not using no-till farming practices.

The department provides grants to farmers who want to try the latest liquid manure "injection" equipment. Injecting manure into the soil is more expensive than broadcasting manure, but has shown to be compatible with no-till cropping systems. In addition, Maryland's Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations are being phased in over the next several years to help farmers who use manure as a crop fertilizer protect waterways from phosphorus runoff.

The public education ads direct visitors to the department's "Manure Happens" 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 commercial 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 to transport poultry litter and manure, 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 spotlights farmers who use manure as a valuable resource.

The department's 2018 educational advertising campaign includes three ads with different themes. The Odoriferous ad focuses on ways farmers work to reduce odors while spreading manure.

The Style Squad ad discusses the various ways farmers work to keep manure away from waterways. In addition, the campaign's namesake ad, Manure Happens has been updated with new imagery. 
Published in Associations
A U.S. Senate committee took testimony on a bill that supporters say offers a bipartisan compromise on reporting manure emissions.

The legislation would exempt farms from a law spawned by careless handling of industrial waste in the 1970s. The bill, however, leaves open the possibility that producers will someday have to report the volume of gases released by livestock under a different law inspired by the 1984 chemical leak in Bopal, India, that killed up to 20,000 people. | READ MORE
Published in News
Gibsonburg, Ohio - An agricultural scientist said farmers are contributing to the efforts to reduce the phosphorus runoff that leads to Lake Erie's harmful algal blooms, but cautioned that the battle must continue.

Mark Riehl, an agronomist with Sunrise Cooperative, spoke at the Sandusky County Chamber of Commerce's 2018 Ag Week Kickoff Breakfast on Friday at Ole Zim's Wagon Shed in Gibsonburg.

"The phosphorus cycle and how it occurs is rather complicated," Riehl said. "That's part of the reason why this isn't a quick-resolve issue." | READ MORE
Published in News
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Wed Aug 15, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 Canada's Outdoor Farm Show
Tue Sep 11, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Farm Science Review 2018
Tue Sep 18, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM