How does farming affect the Chesapeake Bay?

Agriculture is the single largest source of nutrient and sediment pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay. But well-managed agricultural lands can offer the Bay watershed a number of benefits and services, including restored rivers and streams and valuable insect, bird and animal habitat.

How does chicken manure affect the Chesapeake Bay?

Chicken manure, or poultry litter, is often applied to cropland as a form of fertilizer, providing crops with the nutrients needed to grow. But when more litter is applied to the land than a crop can absorb, or when large amounts of litter are improperly stored, the nutrients and bacteria that litter contains can be carried by runoff into rivers and streams or seep into groundwater supplies.

How can farmers lower their fertilizer needs?

A number of best management practices are designed to lower the amount of fertilizer that a farmer must put on his land: nutrient management plans tell a farmer how and when to apply fertilizer to his crops, thus preventing the over-application of nutrients; cover crops planted in the fall can reduce fertilizer needs in the spring; and rotating grain crops (like corn, wheat and barley) with legumes (like alfalfa, soybeans and clover) can reduce fertilizer needs because the legumes add nitrogen to the soil.

What are best management practices?

Best management practices (or BMPs) are conservation practices that can reduce a farm’s nutrient and sediment pollution while maintaining a productive farming operation. Some common agricultural BMPs include conservation tillage, cover crops, forest buffers, streamside fencing and manure storage areas.

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