The state Department of Agriculture announced a pilot project yesterday that will allow Maryland farmers to manage the phosphorus-based nutrients in their crop soil.
The four-year project will receive $1.5 million in annual funding from the state and the five poultry companies on the Eastern Shore, and permit farmers with excess poultry litter to transport it to farmers needing more.
Poultry litter is chicken manure mixed with wood shavings. It contains more phosphorus than other fertilizers, and overloading cropland with phosphorus could cause long-term land or water-quality problems, said Norm Astle, the project coordinator.
The state will provide up to $20 per ton to help offset poultry litter loading and transportation costs, he said.
"The normal practice is to spread the poultry litter locally," Astle said, but the phosphorus level in the soil has built up around the Lower Eastern Shore counties of Dorchester, Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset, where most of the poultry in the state is grown.
The project has the potential to transport between 60,000 and 70,000 tons of litter annually, and is available to all poultry farmers in all areas of the state, he said.
The Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998 provided for state funding for the poultry litter project and the Manure Matching Service to link farmers.
Pub Date: 3/12/99