NRCS CEAP report shows progress in Chesapeake Bay
Along the shores of Chesapeake Bay, farmers like Temple Rhodes, of Centreville, Md., prove farming can be productive and profitable while preserving the Bay. Few regions of the country are more closely scrutinized, and Rhodes is not alone in his efforts to reduce nutrient losses from his crop land.
Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released a new Conservation Effectiveness Assessment Project (CEAP) report for the Chesapeake Bay. The assessment indicates that producers in the Bay have significantly increased their conservation measures to improve and protect water quality. A separate study performed by USDA NRCS and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to assess the Upper Chester River watershed in Maryland also indicated Bay farmers are taking action. Complementing the CEAP results, the previous targeted watershed audit of the Upper Chester River found that 97 percent of the cropped acres had a nutrient management plan with more than 50 percent of the farmers utilizing multiple practices to manage nitrogen. That assessment was also performed in 2011 using a thorough assessment auditing 53 land owners representing 87 percent of the watershed acres.
Rhodes has multiple reasons for intensively managing the nutrients he applies to the soil his family depends on to grow corn, soybeans and wheat. As a businessman, he doesn’t want to spend his fertilizer dollars ineffectively. As a grower, he relies on fertilizer to enrich the productivity of the land. And as an avid outdoorsman, Rhodes is serious about the responsibility of taking care of the soil and water resources that enhance his life as well as the lives of the non-farm public.
To achieve his objectives, Rhodes works with Willard Agri-Service, a Maryland-based agribusiness to implement the 4Rs, fertilizer best management practices selected to apply the right nutrient source, at the right rate, in the right time and in the right place. Willard Agri-Service applies custom liquid fertilizers and crop protectants and offers Chesapeake Bay farmers data collection support and related crop production . Willard Agri-Services has worked closely with Rhodes for many years and believes his farming practices represent the direction many Bay-area farmers are headed.
“Embracing fertilizer best management practices improve yields and profitability of today’s harvests,” says Willard Agri-Service’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mike Twining. “These same practices also reduce the loss of nutrients to the Bay by converting ever higher percentages of the applied nutrients into healthy food and fiber for human consumption. Our clients are increasingly adopting practices similar to those on Rhodes farm.”
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