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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPING ANALYTICAL AND MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE CROP UTILIZATION OF .... AND REDUCE LOSSES TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Location: Crop Systems & Global Change

Title: Chesapeake Bay Goal Line 2025: Opportunities for Enhancing Agricultural Conservation Conference Report

Authors
item Pease, J -
item Meisinger, John
item Ignosh, J -
item Brinsfield, R -
item Zygmunt, H -
item Cerosaletti, P -

Submitted to: Chesapeake Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 12, 2012
Publication Date: December 5, 2012
Repository URL: http://www.chesapeake.org/pubs/295_Meisinger2012.pdf
Citation: Pease, J.W., Meisinger, J.J., Ignosh, J., Brinsfield, R.B., Zygmunt, H., Cerosaletti, P. 2012. Chesapeake Bay Goal Line 2025: Opportunities for Enhancing Agricultural Conservation Conference Report. Chesapeake Research Conference Proceedings. STAC Publ. 12-05.

Interpretive Summary: The Chesapeake Bay Goal Line 2025: Opportunities for Enhancing Agricultural Conservation Conference was held to discuss opportunities for enhancing nutrient management and sediment control. The conference was sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Science and Technical Advisory Committee and was attended by over 120 agricultural scientists, state and local government staffers, and public and private nutrient managers. The goal was to enhance nutrient and sediment conservation through the identification and implementation of existing Best Management Practices (BMPs), and the development and implementation of new and innovative BMPs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Drawing conclusions about opportunities for improving BMPs is difficult in large heterogeneous watersheds, like the Chesapeake, because BMPs are well known for being site specific. However, there are several BMPs that are applicable to large areas or to the major livestock enterprises; and these practices will be the focal point of this summary. Many opportunities exist for expanded use of existing BMPs over the short-term (less than 2 years) by cost sharing. For example, wider use of winter cover crops to reduce nitrogen (N) leaching losses, reducing excess crude protein and phosphorus (P) in dairy rations, injection or conservation-tillage incorporation of manures into the soil, and expanded transport and use of manure across the watershed. However, many of these BMPs are limited by economics because they provide little direct financial benefit to the producer, or are too costly for large-scale implementation due to limited public funds. There are also promising BMPs that could be deployed within the next 5 years. Examples of these newer techniques include: methods to reduce the acreage testing excessively-high in soil P by tracking soil-P tests over time, improving watershed nutrient budgets by reducing nutrient imports through precision livestock feeding and recycling/expanding the use of nutrients in manure, and increasing N and P efficiencies by linking traditional soil and crop tests to yearly feed-back loops to adjust nutrient timing, application rate, or placement which would produce an adaptive nutrient management system. Another overarching strategy is expanded integration of nutrient conserving BMPs throughout the entire livestock-crop enterprise, an approach called holistic management, which emphasizes system-wide nutrient management in the animal diet, manure management, and land application. Long-term, 5-13 year, opportunities also exist for reducing nutrient and sediment losses to the Bay. The general themes of these approaches are: to develop new markets and alternative uses for manure; expand support for year-long manure storage structures to reduce twice-a-year cleanouts, evaluate the potential for broiler production with litter-less flooring, develop minimum nutrient management performance criteria for broiler and dairy industries, and increase economic incentives for improved nutrient management. An essential part of all of the above opportunities is continued education of producers, consultants, advisors and policy makers across the watershed. Continuing education will accelerate adoption of proven practices, speed the development of new techniques, and lead to sound policies that can reduce tensions between environmental advocates and agricultural producers and speed the recovery and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

Technical Abstract: The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries has been developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has led sub-watershed managers within the Bay watershed to develop Watershed Improvement Plans (WIPs). The goals of the WIPs are to delineate nutrient and sediment management plans that meet the TMDL requirements. To assist watershed managers with developing best management plans (BMPs) for their WIPs, the Chesapeake Bay Science and Technical Advisory Committee convened the Chesapeake Bay Goal Line 2025: Opportunities for Enhancing Agricultural Conservation conference. The conference was attended by over 120 agricultural scientists from state and federal agencies, state and local government staffers, and public and private nutrient managers. Drawing conclusions about opportunities for implementing or improving BMPs is difficult in large heterogeneous watersheds, like the Chesapeake Bay, because BMPs are well known for being site specific. However, there are several BMPs that are applicable to large areas within the Bay watershed or to major livestock enterprises. These large-scale practices will be the focal point of this abstract. Many short-term (< 2 year) opportunities exist for expanded use of existing BMPs now supported by cost sharing. For example: expanded use of winter cover crops which have commonly been shown to cut N leaching losses in half, reducing excess crude protein and P in dairy rations, manure injection or conservation-tillage incorporation into the soil to reduce NH3 and P runoff losses, and expanded transport and use of manure across the watershed. However, these BMPs are limited by economics because they provide little direct financial benefit to the producer, or are too costly for large-scale implementation due to limited public funds. There are also promising BMPs that could be deployed within 5 years. Examples of these newer techniques include: methods to reduce the acreage testing excessively-high in soil P by tracking soil-P tests over time thus monitoring soil P status, improving watershed nutrient budgets by reducing nutrient imports through precision livestock feeding and recycling/expanding the use of nutrients in manure, and increasing N and P efficiencies by linking traditional soil and crop tests, such as the pre-sidedress soil nitrate test or the corn stalk nitrate test, to yearly feed-back loops to adjust N application rate, timing, or placement which would produce an adaptive nutrient management system. Another overarching strategy is expanded integration of nutrient conserving BMPs throughout the entire livestock-crop enterprise, i.e., holistic management, which emphasizes system-wide nutrient management in the animal diet, manure management, and land application. Long-term, 5-13 year, opportunities also exist for nutrient and sediment reductions. The general themes are: to develop new markets and alternative uses for manure; expand support for year-long manure storage to reduce twice-a-year cleanouts, develop minimum nutrient management performance criteria for broiler and dairy industries, and increase economic incentives for improved nutrient management. An essential part of all of the above opportunities is continued education of producers, consultants, advisors and policy makers. Continuing education will accelerate adoption of proven practices, speed the development of new techniques, and lead to sound policies that can promote positive interactions between environmental advocates and agricultural producers and speed the recovery and protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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