Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture
With planting season just around the corner, livestock farmers will be spreading a winter's worth of manure from their animals to help get the 2017 crop off to a good start. The simple act of spreading manure as fertilizer on farm fields is a source of great consternation from urban folks.
With that in mind, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has unveiled an updated public education campaign to help citizens understand how and why farmers use manure as an organic crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. The “Manure Happens” campaign also includes information on the steps farmers must take to protect water quality in local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The ads will run in local newspapers, websites, and social media throughout March.
“Farmers have used manure for hundreds of years to raise healthy crops to feed a growing population,” says Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Today’s farmers use the latest best management practices to protect waterways from runoff and safeguard our state’s valuable natural resources.”
Maryland’s Nutrient Management Regulations prohibit farmers from spreading manure on their fields in winter or when the ground is frozen. March 1 is the first opportunity for farmers to recycle manure generated over the winter as a crop fertilizer. To further protect water resources, Maryland farmers are required to incorporate manure into the soil within 48 hours if they are not using a no-till farming system. Manure incorporation reduces surface runoff, improves nutrient retention and cuts down on odors. In addition, Maryland’s Phosphorus Management Tool regulations are being phased in over the next several years to help farmers protect waterways from phosphorus runoff.
“In upcoming weeks, people who live near working farms will begin to notice the unmistakable smell of manure,” says Bartenfelder. “When driving in farm country, please watch out for slow moving farm equipment on local roads. Be considerate and share the road with Maryland’s working farm families.”
The public education ads direct visitors to the department’s “Manure Happens” website. In addition to providing citizens with information on how farmers recycle manure resources, the website offers resources for farmers who currently use commercial fertilizers and are considering making the switch to manure and farmers who sell manure resources as part of their farm’s business model. The page provides links to additional resources available for farmers, including grants, tax credits, technical guidance and scientific research on the benefits of manure as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment. In addition, the website includes links to Maryland’s nutrient management regulations and phosphorus management initiative.
The department’s 2017 educational advertising campaign includes a series of three ads with different themes. The “Best Selfie Ever” ad advises folks to watch their step in cow country and know which way the wind is blowing. The new “King of the Shore” ad educates citizens on how chicken farmers manage manure resources. In addition, the campaign’s namesake ad, “Manure Happens” has been updated with new photography. For a look at all the education ads developed over the years, visit mda.maryland.gov/manure.