In going where no government has gone before – in terms of phosphorus nutrient regulations, Maryland Department of Agriculture has been receiving plentiful public comment on its phosphorus management tool. The changes were published in the Maryland Register on Friday. The comment period ends November 18.
"So many farmers participated in the three public briefings about the phosphorus management tool," says Maryland Ag Secretary Buddy Hance. "If you have concerns, we want to hear about them.
"If you can provide examples and data on how the new tool will impact you, we need to hear that, too," he adds. "We remain committed to implementing the new tool in a way that's responsive to various concerns and ensuring our farmers have the technical and financial resources needed to comply with new regulations."
What the PMT tool does
The PMT replaces the phosphorus site index to reflect more than 10 years of new research. It applies only to farms where soil P has a fertility index value of 150 or more. This environmental risk assessment tool is used to identify areas where excess phosphorus is present and a high potential for phosphorus loss exists.
It allows farmers, consultants and regulators to evaluate management options for reducing risk of P losses from ag fields to nearby waterways. Revising and updating the tool is an element of Maryland's Watershed Implementation Plan, the federally mandated document that outlines specific steps the state will take to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.
The current proposal reflects the most recent changes made after an earlier version was met with concerns from the agriculture and environmental communities. The proposal plus the Extension are available on MDA's website at: http://mda.maryland.gov/Pages/Proposed-Regulations.aspx.
A fact sheet "AgBrief: Phosphorus Management Tool - An Overview of the Proposed Regulations" is also available online at: http://mda.maryland.gov/Documents/ag_brief/AgBrief_PMT_092013.pdf.
Comments may be sent to Hance at Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD. 21401, email to Earl.Hance@maryland.gov , or fax to 410-841-5914.