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MD Senate Bill 594


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#1 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:08 AM

What are MD's elected officials thinking?

Manure must be injected into the soil (not spread on top) from November 1 to March 1 and from March 1 to November 1 either injected or incorporated (tilled) into the soil. How will manure be applied to a pasture without destroying the pasture? Where will we send all the manure which cannot be applied to the pastures?

Senate Bill 594

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#2 Sue R

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:33 AM

Ed said to not get him started on Maryland. It's an urban-controlled state that is out of touch with rural/agricultural reality.

Not spreading manure on frozen ground is sensible - it is more likely to result in run-off and loss of fertility to the soil (and fertility running into streams and rivers and the bay, which is what needs to be avoided). Not being able to spread in the summer months is too onerous. Injection is very expensive and could not be used for a bedded pack (works for lagoons and liquid manure as from dairy farms). Tilling in, as you point out, would damage/destroy pastures and hayfields. One of the points of pastures and hayfields is that they don't need tillage, which is environmentally-friendly. In addition, if you choose to no-till plant corn (which does require chemicals but reduces potential erosion), this means you couldn't spread manure where you would be planting corn.

This is just out-of-touch with reality.

PS - Maybe they just want you to dig a hole and bury the manure (well, except that would raise ground water issues) and buy in chemical and other fertilizer trucked in from a distance. That's got to be good for the environment, right?

With cattle, and without a barn or other confinement/shelter facility, we keep our stock out year-round. Ed's system provides for feeding hay in the fields where it is produced, rotating the section of the field where he feeds each year, and therefore returning virtually all the manure to the same fields where it is used to grow the forage (whether pasture or hayfield). No winter pasture or so-called drylot where manure concentrates, runs off, and yet is not contributing to production. We have applied lime or fertilizer just nine times in almost 20 years on our 40-50 acres (generally just to one field on each occasion), as the only thing that leaves the fields that was produced on the fields is whatever livestock is sold, and the manure all is recycled in the fields by "natural" bovine application.

Sorry, I'm off on a tangent and ranting...
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#3 juliepoudrier

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:36 AM

I guess you'll just have to claim that your sheep are spreading the manure themselves....

Stupid law, but I suppose the suburbanites have complained about the smell and so the government feels it must do something. To hell with the farmers.

Is the Farm Bureau or any similar entity involved. Granted, the farm bureau seems to be more attentive to crop farmers, but I think they benefit from manure spreading as well.

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#4 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:50 PM

The issue is nutrient run off into the bay.
There is a competing bill which states that no more efforts should be made in MD to cut down on nutrient run off until states in the Potomac, Shenandoah, and Susquehanna watersheds have reduced the nutrient levels being dumped into the bay from these rivers. The competing bill is based upon the economic argument against any environmental protection bills; it will cost too much in MD and the impacted industry will move to other states.

I think both bills are stupid.
the first is impractical in practice
the second: "if he won't do the right thing I won't either"

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#5 juliepoudrier

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 02:19 PM

I agree--both are stupid. Hopefully more intelligent heads will prevail.

J.

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Julie Poudrier
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#6 Eileen Stein

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:29 AM

SB 594 is not going to pass. However, they will probably try to achieve the same goal via new regulations to existing laws within the next year.

The issue is indeed phosphate runoff into waterways, including -- and ultimately -- the bay. There is intensive chicken farming on the eastern shore of MD, and the farmers naturally want to dispose of the chicken output in the cheapest possible way, which is to spread it on the ground, regardless of the levels of nutrients already in the soil (which in many cases are already excessive) and regardless of whether the ground is frozen. In essence, they are using our waterways as a sewer system for their waste, at significant cost to the flora and fauna of the bay.

How would you feel about this proposal if there were an exemption for pasture land -- i.e., if it only applied to cropland? Unless you have a confinement operation, it's hard to see how it would have more than minimal application to you anyway.

#7 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:48 AM

This bill seems to apply to anyone who must have a nutrient management plan.

The most significant feature of the Water Quality Improvement Act is a provision requiring all Maryland farmers grossing $2,500 or more annually or raising 8,000 pounds or more of live animal weight to run their operations using a nutrient management plan that addresses both nitrogen and phosphorus inputs.
source: MD Nutrient Management


We always have incedental manure build-up due to winter feeding in the barn. The guy who runs cows on the adjacent fields and has access to water on our property for his cows also has manure build-up where he feeds hay. The same would hold true of horse owners.

The regulations on the application of manure need to address differences in possible application methods to and potential run-off from pastures, hay fields, no-till crop fields, crop fields with cover crops, and bare crop-fields. The regulations could also have a tiered approach based upon the quatities being applied, but this may add complications for enforcement.

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#8 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:47 AM

As this bill is written, if passed, anyone in MD applying manure to agricultural land using a manure spreader would be in violation.

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#9 Eileen Stein

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:50 AM

This bill seems to apply to anyone who must have a nutrient management plan.


That's the way I read it too. By far the major contributor to the problem -- without which no one would perceive a need for any legislation/regulation -- is intensive chicken farming, but the law needs to have general application. Of course exceptions could be spelled out in it, and it seems to me an amendment exempting pasture land might be one way to go, if the bill had any future, which it doesn't.

The regulations on the application of manure needs to address differences in possible application methods to and potential run-off from pastures, hay fields, no-till crop fields, crop fields with cover crops, and bare crop-fields. The regulations could also have a tiered approach based upon the quatities being applied, but this may add complications for enforcement.


Well, the regulations will be published for comment before they're adopted, and it would certainly be good if all interested parties with expertise can have input into the end result. That's the way it should work, and sometimes that's even the way it does work. ;)

#10 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:57 AM

Hopefully, the Organic Farmers in MD will weigh in on the issue of manure application since this will have a huge impact on their farming methods.


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#11 Eileen Stein

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 10:01 AM

As this bill is written, if passed, anyone in MD applying manure to agricultural land using a manure spreader would be in violation.


Yup, unless they tilled it in within 24 hours.

It seems to me that the drafters were focused on crop land (most of this chicken waste probably gets spread on land that grows a rotation of corn, soybeans and winter wheat, which is typical for farmland on the eastern shore), and they just didn't think about the implications for land that is not tilled. It's always a risk in legislative drafting that you'll be so focused on the problem you're addressing that you'll miss the implications that what you're writing could have in a different situation. You do your best to foresee everything, and then count on amendments proposed by others who are looking at it from another point of view to fix what you missed.


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