PMT Transition Advisory Committee to meet Dec. 14
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The state’s phosphorous management committee will meet next month to decide whether it will recommend delaying the final phase of its Phosphorous Management Tool program.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s PMT Transition Advisory Committee will meet virtually on Dec. 14 to debate and vote on whether it will recommend to Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder to delay by a year the last transitional phase of the tool, which regulates the amount of phosphorous that growers can apply to farmland statewide.
Department officials met with the committee virtually on Nov. 23 to update members on several concerns, such as funding and other resources, that could prevent the state from moving all farms into compliance with the tool by June 30, 2022. At that point, phosphorous application on all fields would be fully regulated based on their risk of leeching the nutrient into surrounding water tables, waterways and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
The cost and logistics of manure transport, primarily from low-lying, phosphorous-saturated soils on the Lower Eastern Shore to other parts of the state and beyond, have been one of the program’s biggest obstacles. The state’s transport program was under-funded and lacked necessary infrastructure to move and temporarily store litter, Memo Diriker, a Salisbury University consultant, told the committee last year.
State officials said they continue to make improvements in that area. Thanks to increased commitments from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and poultry integrators, funding for the transport program rose from $1.6 million in fiscal year 2020 to $2.6 million in fiscal year 2021, according to a department presentation.
The department has made it easier for farmers and manure brokers to complete paperwork for transport applications, which lead to a 17,000-ton rise in hauled manure in fiscal year 2020. But the department is still trying to secure contracts with companies that will stockpile litter in staging areas during the transportation process. Companies doing that work could face siting issues, county zoning regulations, concerns about truck traffic and liability issues, however.
“It’s a long process, and we are very much in the middle of trying to make this work,” said Hans Schmidt, the department’s assistant secretary of resource conservation.
The department has also signed an agreement with a new manure broker who has expressed an interest in storage and custom land application. The department also said it may be able to move litter to Ohio by rail by the fall of next year.
The state continues to work on animal waste technologies to process manure, including a $2 million anaerobic digester at Kilby Farms in Cecil County whose construction is almost complete. Another $2 million project by International BioRefineries LLC for poultry litter in Wicomico County is under construction. That project uses fast pyrolysis, a process that rapidly heats litter in a de-oxygenated environment to condense it into bio-oil. Those projects, however, are long-term solutions, said Dwight Dotterer, the department’s nutrient management program administrator.
“We’re not there yet at a large scale,” he said. “But we think there’s a lot of potential in the animal waste technology fund.”
The committee’s next meeting will begin at 10 a.m.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925