(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.