ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Department of Agriculture has launched its 2020 Manure Happens public education campaign to teach Marylanders how and why farmers recycle manure as a natural crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. The 2020 campaign focuses on best management practices used to prevent runoff and control odors when spreading manure, and the science behind nutrient management. The ads will run in local newspapers, on websites, and on social media throughout March.
“Today’s educated consumers are passionate about where their food comes from and how it is produced,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder. “The Manure Happens campaign helps Marylanders understand why farmers use manure as a crop fertilizer and how the nutrient management practices farmers follow protect the health of nearby waterways. As our hard working Maryland farmers start to prepare their fields for spring planting, let us recognize all they are doing to improve the health of their soil and the Chesapeake Bay.”
Maryland farmers are required to follow nutrient management plans when fertilizing crops and managing animal manure. These science-based plans specify how much fertilizer, manure, or other nutrient sources may be safely applied to crops to achieve yields and prevent excess nutrients from impacting waterways. Farmers are prohibited from spreading manure on their fields in winter or when the ground is frozen. March 1 was the first opportunity for most farmers to recycle manure generated over the winter as a crop fertilizer and soil conditioner.
To further protect water resources, Maryland’s Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations are helping farmers protect local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay from phosphorus runoff.
The public education ads direct viewers to the department’s Manure Happens website. In addition to providing citizens with information on how farmers recycle manure resources, the website offers resources for farmers who use commercial fertilizers and want to switch to manure, and to farmers who already use manure to build healthy soils. The page provides links to important farmer resources including the department’s new and improved grants to haul poultry manure, grants to “inject” liquid manure below the soil surface to reduce odors and protect against runoff, tax credits, nutrient management regulations, technical guidance, and scientific research on the benefits of manure as a crop fertilizer and soil conditioner.
The department’s 2020 education campaign includes three ads with different themes. The Attitude is Everything ad focuses on ways farmers work to protect local streams and reduce odors when spreading manure. The Go the Distance ad highlights the science behind managing poultry manure and its nutrients. In addition, the campaign’s namesake ad, Manure Happens, has been updated. To see all of the department’s manure education ads over the years, visit the Manure Happens website.
–Megan Guilfoyle, Maryland Department of Agriculture