“Agriculture” Cited as Preferred Land Use Around Chesapeake Bay
Farmers participate in dialogue held on watershed issues
A series of panel discussions that included farmers, the leader of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service concluded that agriculture needs to continue as a major use of land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Farmers there say they’ve adopted conservation practices to do their part to keep the bay clean.
“We’re told when and how to apply nutrients,” says United Soybean Board (USB) director Geno Lowe, of some of the special requirements he and other Maryland farmers need to follow to meet federal and state standards. “At least in Maryland, it’s down to every county that has to come up with a plan on how they are going to reduce the total maximum daily load of nutrients allowed from the agriculture, industry and residential sectors.”
Lowe’s farm has been in his family since the middle of the last century and is part of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, which rests between the Chesapeake Bay, the state of Delaware and the Atlantic Ocean.
“I talk to some farmers in the Midwest who put their fertilizer on in the fall,” says Lowe. “That would be out of the question in our area,” he says. “I can’t apply fertilizer until after March 1. If we use nitrogen, our applications will be split between 4-5 applications, starting at planting, then side dressing, then 2-3 applications through irrigation.”
Lowe and other farmers say they’ve increased efforts to get the word out about what all sectors of agriculture are doing to reduce the possibility of nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. “At least from the soybean checkoff side, we didn’t invest much in communicating with consumers. Now we’re investing millions,” Lowe told panel participants. He says the efforts can help ensure he and other U.S. farmers maintain their freedom to operate.
The National Association of Farm Broadcasting held the panel discussions April 24 on a farm near Allens Fresh, in southern Md., not far from the Potomac River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.