Farmers May Apply Commercial Fertilizer to Small Grains Beginning February 25

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture today announced that farmers who planted small grains for harvest last fall may “top dress” these crops with commercial fertilizer beginning February 25, as long as ground conditions remain favorable and in accordance with their nutrient management plans. The determination follows Maryland’s nutrient management regulations and is based on research conducted by University of Maryland plant experts. As a reminder,manure may not be applied to fields until March 1. Each year, University of Maryland researchers examine soil temperatures and crop growth over the winter to estimate when small grains will emerge from dormancy. This measurement, known as Growing Degree Units, is used to determine when small grains will benefit from spring nitrogen applications. According to data collected by University researchers, commercial fertilizer may be safely applied to small grains beginning February 25. At this time, these plants will have absorbed all available nutrients in the soil and will require additional nutrients to keep growing. “The winter of 2017-2018 has been interesting,” said Dr. Robert Kratochvil, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist at the University of Maryland. “Through January, it was colder than normal resulting in a slow accumulation of Growing Degree Units. The first couple weeks of February were warmer and the number of Growing Degree Units increased. A further assessment conducted on February 16 combined with the extended forecast indicated that small grains would benefit from the first application of spring nitrogen on February 25.” The University recommends split applications of spring nitrogen with the first application occurring on or soon after February 25 based on Growing Degree Units and the second application when the crops begin to joint. For additional information on Maryland’s nutrient application requirements, contact the department’s Nutrient Management Program at 410-841-5959. Farmers with fields that are not suitable for harvest should contact their crop insurance agent for guidance. Photo by Edwin Remsberg for USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE)
February 26, 2018 / Uncategorized / Jamie Tiralla / Permalink

Funding Still Available for Conservation Partnership Projects Across Maryland

Applications due by March 16 to local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices Annapolis, Md., February 15, 2018 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is encouraging farmers and forest landowners to submit applications for conservation programs associated with the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Farmers and forestland owners may apply for conservation funding at any time throughout the year, but funding selections are made at specific times and the second 2018 sign-up deadline for RCPP projects is March 16, 2018. Maryland currently offers RCPP in selected areas across the state through eight projects that range in focus, from animal waste management practices, to streamside buffers, to wildlife habitat restoration. The following projects currently have funding available: Accelerating Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plans: Offered in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, this project addresses animal waste management concerns in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and helps farmers implement practices to avoid winter application of manure. Producers that are interested in waste storage facilities, pumping plants, heavy use areas, and solid/liquid waste separation facilities are encouraged to apply. Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement: Offered in partnership with the American Bird Conservancy, this project will focus on suites of conservation practices intended to enhance acres of forest habitat on private lands for cerulean warblers, an at-risk species, and associated species by addressing habitat loss, soil health, and water quality. Producers and/or landowners that are interested in enrolling additional acres into easements, and increasing forest biodiversity are encouraged to apply. Comprehensive Watershed Conservation in Dairy and Livestock Landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay: Offered in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, this project will address both water quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife through a combination of comprehensive conservation planning, conservation practice implementation, and strategic habitat restoration. Producers in Washington County that are interested in waste storage facilities, pumping plants, heavy use areas, and solid/liquid waste separation facilities are encouraged to apply. Delmarva Whole System Conservation Partnership- Field to Stream: Offered in partnership with the The Nature Conservancy and the Delaware Maryland Agribusiness Association, this project will increase the implementation of advanced nutrient management practices and restoration of wetlands to reduce excess nutrients to the Chesapeake Bay. The project will also use science-based targeting of these practices to increase their effectiveness. Private landowners located in the Blackwater, Choptank, Nanticoke, Pocomoke and Wicomico watersheds that are interested in advanced nutrient management and wetland easements and restoration are encouraged to apply. Engaging Small AFO's in the Nutrient Management Process: This project seeks to reduce nutrient and sediment loss associated with small dairy AFOs by encouraging the development and implementation of CNMPs. It is available state-wide to small dairy operations interested in developing comprehensive nutrient management plans and implementing plan practices, including: waste storage structures, animal mortality facilities, heavy use areas, barnyard runoff practices, animal exclusion practices, and enhanced nutrient management (such as manure injection), among others. Mason-Dixon Working Lands Partnership: Offered in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, this project builds on USDA’s commitment to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed by taking a whole-farm approach to conservation implementation to address the unique needs of both forest and agricultural land owners. The project is designed to help farmers meet their conservation goals and using incentives to implement riparian forest buffers and stream fencing. Producers that are interested in riparian forest buffers, forest stand improvement or forest management plans in addition to other conservation practices are encouraged to apply. Ranking Tool Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay: Offered in cooperation with the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, this project seeks to accelerate the installation of best management practices to enable Maryland farmers to meet the nutrient and sediment water quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. It is available to producers in Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester, Washington, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties who are interested in animal waste storage, stream fencing, heavy use areas, liquid separation technology, and advanced nutrient management practices. Promoting Rotational Grazing: The objective of the project is to increase adoption of rotational grazing and complementary practices by converting cropland to pasture or moving existing continuous grazing operations to more intensive rotational grazing systems to address water quality degradation in the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac watersheds. It is available to producers in Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Washington counties. A conservation plan should be completed before an application can be considered for funding, so farmers are encouraged to call or stop by their local NRCS field office as soon as possible. USDA Service Center locations are listed online at http://offices.usda.gov or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture. General program information is available on the NRCS Maryland website at www.md.nrcs.usda.gov.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202-720-6382 (TDD).
February 20, 2018 / Uncategorized / Jamie Tiralla / Permalink

Assistance Available to Agricultural Producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2018 – Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018. While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018 to be considered for this funding period. Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality. Some of these benefits of CSP include:
  • Increased crop yields;
  • Decreased inputs;
  • Wildlife population improvements; and
  • Better resilience to weather extremes.
NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process. Producers interested in CSP are recommended to contact their local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202-720-6382 (TDD).
January 27, 2018 / Uncategorized / Jamie Tiralla / Permalink
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