Chicken Manure Regulations Stir County Concerns

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has proposed regulations governing use of chicken manure as fertilizer based on the phosphorous content of the application area. Under the stricter new rules, pending before a legislative review committee, the manure could not be applied if the ground phosphorous levels are high.

From coverage in the Daily Times:

The Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review will hold an emergency hearing Aug. 28 in Annapolis regarding new regulations on the Phosphorous Management Tool. Their decision could impact the current Nutrient Management Plans required of all farmers in the state.

Maryland farmers are required to test soil for phosphorous content before spreading manure on cornfields, which contains nutrients corn needs to grow.

Currently, if a field is found to be high in phosphorous, the farmer may still spread chicken manure as fertilizer, but only the amount the corn crop would actually use in a growing season.

If the regulation changes, farmers whose fields are high in phosphorous would not be permitted to spread chicken manure at all.

The Daily Times article also indicates that the Worcester County Commissioners intend to submit a letter of concern about the proposed regulations:

The letter comes in response to a request from county commissioner and chicken farmer Virgil Shockley at Tuesday’s meeting of the commissioners.

“This will have a dramatic impact on growers,” Shockley said. “It came out of nowhere. Why is it an emergency, all of a sudden? We need to slow down and get some facts.”

Information on the Department’s proposed regulations is available on the Department website.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties