Md. PMT study results expected to be available next year

Associate Editor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (May 24, 2016) — The results of an on-farm economic study into the state’s Phosphorous Management Tool should be available early next year, a state agriculture official said last week.
The study, which includes a series of farms spread across the state, is designed to examine the effects of the nutrient regulation’s economic impact on farms on a minimum of 1,000 acres.
The two-year study, which began in 2015, is expected to be released in the first two months of next year, said Hans Schmidt, an assistant secretary in the state agriculture department.
The study includes four farms using poultry litter — one that imports litter and three that are poultry and crop farms — and four others are dairy. Reimbursement for implementation costs for the first year have already been distributed to the farmers and data analysis is underway, Schmidt said at a meeting of the Nutrient Management Advisory Committee on May 17.
The PMT is a risk assessment tool that applies to farms where soil phosphorous has a fertility index value of 150 or more, according to the state department.
The value is a measurement, determined with a soil test, of how much phosphorous is in the soil compared to what is needed to grow crops.
Excessive phosphorous can run off into nearby waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, leading to oxygen-sucking algae blooms and other issues that threaten Bay life.
Statewide soil tests revealed in March that 82 percent of farm fields tested to date won’t be impacted by new environmental regulations, which limit how much phosphorous or animal manure can be applied as fertilizer.
About 18 percent will require use of the PMT to evaluate risk and just 1 percent were immediately banned from applying phosphorous.