ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has launched its annual Manure Happens public education campaign to help citizens understand how and why farmers recycle manure as a crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. The 2021 campaign focuses on how farmers protect local streams from runoff when using chicken and livestock manure to fertilize their crops and build healthy soils. The ads will run in local newspapers, websites, and social media throughout March.
“Manure is a highly-valued natural fertilizer and soil amendment,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Today’s farmers use the latest science to get the most out of manure while using best management practices to protect the health of local streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. This public education campaign aims to help the public understand the science, technology, and good sense Maryland farmers use when working with manure.”
For centuries, farmers around the world have used manure to help grow their crops. Today, we know the science behind manure’s long history as a fertilizer. Manure provides the soil with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium plus other valuable nutrients and micronutrients that are essential for plant growth. Manure also supplies organic matter to build healthy soils that retain water and nutrients for crops.
Maryland farmers use nutrient management plans to guide their use of when, where, and how much manure to apply to crops. This helps ensure that manure’s nutrients are used by crops and not washed into waterways. Sometimes the soil does not need as much phosphorus as manure provides. Maryland’s Phosphorus Management Tool helps farmers protect local streams from phosphorus runoff. In addition, Maryland does not allow manure to be spread on fields in winter or when the ground is frozen. March 1 is the first opportunity for farmers to recycle manure they have stored over the winter.
The public education ads direct visitors to the department’s Manure Happens website. In addition to providing citizens with information on how farmers recycle manure, the website offers resources for farmers who use commercial fertilizers and want to switch to manure, and for farmers who already use manure to build healthy soils. The page provides links to farmer resources, including MDA’s FastTrack grants to haul poultry litter away from farms with high phosphorus levels, grants to inject liquid manure into the soil to reduce odors and protect against runoff, conservation equipment tax credits, nutrient management regulations, and scientific research on the benefits of using manure as a crop fertilizer.
MDA’s 2021 education campaign includes two new ads with different themes. The first ad, “What Do You Know About Chicken Manure?,” highlights the many tools farmers use to protect local waterways when fertilizing crops with chicken litter. The “Stop and Smell the Flowers” ad describes why farmers spread manure on their fields. To see all of MDA’s manure education ads developed over the years, visit the campaign’s website.
–Maryland Department of Agriculture