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Maryland Agricultural Highlights — January 2021

Now Accepting Applications for the New Conservation Buffer Initiative

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) launched a new pilot program that offers attractive incentive payments, easy sign-up, and more management options for farmers who want to plant streamside buffers on their farms to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Maryland’s Conservation Buffer Initiative provides funding and free technical assistance for forest buffers planted next to waterways, grass buffers planted next to waterways or field ditches, and streamside access control areas adjacent to pastures. The enrollment period is from Jan. 11-Feb. 5, 2021. Farmers should visit the department’s website for details on this initiative and how to apply.

2020 Annual Implementation Reporting (AIR) Forms Due March 1

MDA reminds farmers regulated by the department’s Nutrient Management Program that they are required to submit their 2020 Annual Implementation Reporting (AIR) forms by March 1. As of January 11, farmers now have the option to submit their forms electronically via the Maryland OneStop portal. Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) operating under a permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment should submit one combined reporting form along with a manure analysis to MDA’s Nutrient Management Program. For those farmers who want to continue to submit paper reports, a mail-in option remains available this year. Paper forms will be mailed to all regulated farmers and are available for download on the department’s website.

Fertilizer Application Reports Due March 1 for Licensed Professional Fertilizer Applicators

Licensed individuals and businesses that fertilize turf are required to file an Annual Fertilizer Application Report with MDA by March 1, 2021. The report outlines total nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium applied to turf by county during calendar year 2020. Beginning Jan. 11, 2021, turfgrass professionals will have the option to file their annual reports electronically using the Maryland OneStop portal. Please visit the department’s website for more information.

Nutrient Management Training Set for March 8-12, 2021

MDA and the University of Maryland Extension will host an online training event March 8-12, 2021, on how to write a nutrient management plan using the NuMan Pro nutrient management planning​ software. The workshop awards six continuing education credits to newly certified consultants. Visit the website for registration information.

MDA Continues to Offer FastTrack Grants for Hauling Manure

Farmers who want to switch to using poultry manure as a fertilizer are encouraged to take advantage of the department’s Manure Transport Program FastTrack grants that pay up to $22.50 per ton to truck poultry manure to qualifying farmers and brokers. The FastTrack grants allow farmers to haul poultry manure now and apply for cost-share reimbursement later. The Manure Transport Program is designed to move manure from areas with high soil phosphorus levels to alternative use facilities or farm fields with low levels of phosphorus where it can be land applied. More information can be found on MDA’s Manure Transport Program website

MDA Reminds Citizens Not to Use Fertilizer to Melt Ice

Now that winter is in full swing, MDA reminds citizens that Maryland’s Lawn Fertilizer Law prohibits the use of fertilizer products to de-ice frozen surfaces. Once temperatures rise, these products can easily wash into nearby storm drains and streams with the first rain or snow. Fertilizer contributes to the growth of algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching bay grasses, rob the water of oxygen, and threaten underwater life. The University of Maryland Extension recommends using sand and kitty litter as possible substitutes. For more information on melting ice safely, visit Extension’s website.


The Maryland Agricultural Awareness Alliance is a coalition of federal, state and local agricultural agencies and commodity groups dedicated to educating Marylanders on agricultural issues.