Farmers.gov: One-stop Website for Farmers
(Grand Rapids, MI, February 1, 2018) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today unveiled Farmers.gov, the new interactive one-stop website for producers maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Farmers.gov is now live but will have multiple features added over the coming months to allow agricultural producers to make appointments with USDA offices, file forms, and apply for USDA programs. The website, launched at a breakfast hosted by the Michigan Farm Bureau, gathers together the three agencies that comprise USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency. “Many farmers are out in their fields using equipment that is connected to satellite and GPS technology, yet when they need to interact with USDA, they have to stop, fill out a paper form, and fax or carry it to their local office. That is a real digital divide,” Perdue said. “Our staff is friendly, and they love to see farmers in person, but they know that time is valuable. Producers are working hard to make their farms profitable, so these tools will help get the paperwork done without taking a big chunk out of the day to fill out forms.” Farmers.gov is mobile device-friendly and can identify for farmers the most convenient USDA office locations. New functions will be added shortly, including an interactive calendar, farming success stories, an online appointment feature, digital forms, and a business data dashboard. Additionally, when the 2018 Farm Bill is signed into law, there will be plain language program descriptions and a tool to determine eligibility. “As I’ve traveled to 32 states in my first nine months as Secretary of Agriculture, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA,” Perdue said. “It’s my goal to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government, and Farmers.gov is a big step in that direction.” # USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
Anne Arundel County Envirothon Set for April 13
March 1, 2018 (Annapolis, MD) — The Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District is hosting its annual Anne Arundel County Enviroton event on Friday, April 13 at Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center in Millersville. The Envirothon is a hands-on, environmental problem-solving competition for high school-aged students. Participating teams compete to test their knowledge and skills in five natural resource categories: soils/landuse, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and a current environmental issue. “The District has been involved with the Envirothon for many years now and it is always encouraging to see the enthusiasm the students have when attending the Envirothon training sessions and competition,” said John Czajkowski, District Manager for the Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District. This year’s “5th issue” is western rangeland management and pasture management. Envirothon teams will learn how Best Management Practices (BMPs) are used to protect western rangelands, improve grazing management schemes, promote pest management, reduce uncontrolled wildfires, and improve habitat for sage grouse and other wildlife. “Pasture management also applies to farms in Maryland,” Czajkowski said. “Livestock are an important component of our agricultural industry in Anne Arundel County. The District works with local farmers to ensure that pastures and soils are properly managed.” Last year, a team from South River High School took first place among 15 teams that competed in the Anne Arundel Envirothon. Czajkowski said about 75 students are expected to take part in the 2018 Envirothon, representing eight area high schools. The winning team from this year’s local competition will advance to the Maryland Envirothon which takes place at the Maryland 4-H Environmental Education and Camping Center in Garrett County on June 14 and 15. Winners from state competitions advance to the National Envirothon on July 24 through 29 at Idaho State University. In Anne Arundel County, the Envirothon competition is largely sponsored by the Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District. Other key partners include the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Department of Natural Resources along with other state agencies and organizations. ### About Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District protects the county's natural resources by offering technical assistance to private landowners and the government for the conservation, management and best use of soil, water and other natural resources. AASCD helps landowners and developers stay in compliance with Federal, State and County policies through voluntary and mandated programs. The efforts of the District focus on the environmental effects of two different but equally essential areas of our local economy: agriculture and urban development. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
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)