The Maryland Farm Bureau balks at environmentalists' efforts to classify manure as a pollutant. They say that farmers value the manure as a resource and use it in lieu of chemically enhanced fertilizer.
The simple fact remains that when too much manure is applied on land, it can become a significant source of phosphorus pollution that's killing local streams, creeks and the bay itself. Up to a certain point, manure can indeed be a helpful resource. But once the soil is saturated, no more manure should be applied.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing. If 300,000 tons of a substance as benign as orange juice reached the bay, the effects could be disastrous. The bay would face an overabundance of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and thiamin, wreaking havoc all of the bay's treasured wildlife whose ideal conditions span a very narrow range.
According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, in 2009, agriculture — specifically animal manure — was responsible for 60 percent of the sediment entering the bay, 26 percent of phosphorous and 17 percent of nitrogen. Excess manure is clearly a leading contributor to the bay's degradation. Maryland needs better regulations and enforcement in order to protect our gem of an estuary from too much manure.
Hilary Jacobs, Stevenson