Maryland Governor Larry Hogan unveiled enhanced Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations to improve water quality in state and furthermore the Chesapeake Bay area.
The new PMT regulation was developed from a cooperative effort agriculture and environment communities, built on the first proposed PMT published in the Maryland Register in January 2013. Since then, the PMT proposals has been submitted and withdrawn three times.
“We have listened to the agricultural and environmental communities to find a fair and balanced plan for limiting phosphorus, and I am pleased to announce the details of that solution today,” said Governor Hogan. “The enhanced phosphorus management tool regulations and the broader Agriculture Phosphorus Initiative will protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay while still supporting a vibrant agriculture industry in Maryland. We are providing immediate action to limit pollution, investing in new technology, seeking alternative uses for manure, and improving on-farm management of animal manures - none of which were included in the previous proposals.”
Moreover, Joe Bartenfelder, Maryland Agriculture Secretary commended the state farmers for stepping up and proposing progressive steps to accelerate efforts to improve water quality while maintaining a viable industry.
“These new initiative speak to the commitment of Maryland farmers to follow the science and do what is right on their farms,” said Bartenfelder.
On January 15, Governor Hogan signed an executive order to stop the last proposal to clear the way for a more balance approach.
Steps under the new Hogan-Rutherford “Agriculture Phosphorus Initiative” include disseminating enhanced PMT regulations, initiating on-farm economic analysis on 1,000 acreas, expand investment in new technologies that improves manure management and provide additional resources to mitigate certain economic impacts of implementing more stringent environmental requirements on farms.
The new proposal did address the key concerns of the agriculture community by making four significant enhancements from the previous proposal introduced in November 2014.
The lasts PMT regulatory proposition expands the implementation schedule for farmers by year allowing farmers two full crop years to develop nutrient management plans using both the existing phosphorus site index and the new PMT before making required management changes.
Starting in 2016 and every six years thereafter, soil test phosphorus data will be collected from all Maryland farms. This will required consultants preparing nutrient management plans to submit current soil test phosphorus values to the Maryland Dept. of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, the PMT regulation immediately upon the final adoption bans the application of additional phosphorus on soils with a Fertility Index Value of 500 or greater.
According to the MD dept. of agriculture, those farms faced with high phosphorus levels in the soils will receive priority for cost-share assistance under the Manure Transport Program to relocate excess animal manure.
A day after Hogan divulged the state agriculture agency plan to limit animal manure application and reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, a Maryland Senate committee debated for three hours a bill introduced by Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) that limits the amount of chicken manure farmers can apply and mirrors rules previously pushed by former Martin O’Malley and pulled by Hogan on the first day in office.