Nutrient Management of Delmarva Soils & Waters
This newsletter is based on the 'Status of nutrients in Delmarva soils, groundwaters, creeks and tributaries forum', October 21, 2003. Extensive poultry operations and associated feed grain production on the Delmarva Peninsula have resulted in elevated nutrient levels in soils, groundwater, creeks and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Laws passed by state legislatures in 1998 and 1999 required nutrient management for nearly all farms and large-scale urban nutrient applications in Maryland and Delaware, and for poultry operations in Virginia. These laws were passed in an attempt to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from agricultural production systems to state waters, particularly Chesapeake Bay. A science forum of regional soils, hydrology and marine experts was convened on October 21st, 2003 to explore recent information and reach consensus on the status of nutrients in soils, groundwater, creeks, and tributaries on the Delmarva Peninsula. Scientific information derived from the forum is summarized here to inform future management decisions regarding nutrients on Delmarva and elsewhere. The 15 assembled experts concluded that on the nutrient-enriched Delmarva Peninsula, nutrient application rates should be defined to provide reasonable environmental protection while maintaining crop yield optimization. Future management policy must be formulated to value water quality improvement along with crop yields, without imposing unreasonable economic hardships on the farmer. This could be facilitated with the help of subsidized activities already in place, such as cost share incentives.