AmericanFarm.com

Challenge’s goal crucial to Bay (Editorial)

(Dec. 13, 2016) Would you believe? By 2025, farmers could be hailed as heroes of the Chesapeake Bay recovery?
The Delmarva Land and Litter challenge, should it be successful — and its leaders contend that failure is not an option — will have recorded these accomplishments in the next nine years:
Delmarva farmers and their agribusiness partners will be recognized as respected stewards of the land, guardians of natural resources and champions of the rural cultural heritage in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Delmarva agriculture will be considered regionally neutral in importing and exporting nutrients, and wherever possible, nutrients will be recycled locally to support sustainable agricultural operations.
Nutrients will be utilized in farming operations without negative environmental impacts on land and in adjacent waters; and, growers will be rewarded for producing high value food, feed, fiber, clean energy and ecosystem services.
Bear in mind all of this is being brought to you by stakeholders who, the leaders of the initiative admit, “often have been at odds” with each other.
That’s an understatement.
The environmental community and agriculture have been tangling with each other for many years, ever since the deteriorating quality of the Chesapeake Bay grabbed the social conscience of the 5,450 square mile watershed.
Now the stakeholders of the Delmarva Land and Litter Challenge are sitting down together, beginning to map the strategies and pathways for achieving both water quality and an energetic agriculture.
A steering committee has been appointed as have three  subcommittees, or work groups, looking at such factors as “mass balance” or the total amount of nutrients generated on or coming into the Delmarva Peninsula; new technology that could be brought into play; and transportation, or the problems involved in getting manure and litter to where it can be used.
Work group leaders say that through the achievement of the goals set out in the report, “Delmarva farmers and their agri-business partners will be viewed as respected stewards of the land, guardians of natural resources and champions of the rural cultural heritage in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”