Agriculture’s Success in Controlling Nutrient Loss in Chesapeake Bay States

16th Apr 2014 4R Partners,Northeast,

The Chesapeake Bay Program released the results of the 2013 Bay Model Run (5.3.2) which projects the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) reductions for
Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Sediment achieved by states in accordance with their
Watershed Implementation Plans. The final goals for nutrient and sediment load
reduction are to be met by 2025 and states are expected to have achieved 60% of
that goal by 2017.

Specific to agriculture, information is reported to
the Chesapeake Bay Program primarily by the states’ respective departments of
agriculture. The agricultural communities are making great strides in reducing
nutrient loss and loading in the Chesapeake Bay. The graphs below show the 1985
baselines for both nitrogen and phosphorous by state and the reductions
achieved for 2009 and 2013, as well as the 2017 milestone and 2025 goal.

These numbers show that all the hard work of farmers
and agribusinesses is achieving reductions in nutrient runoff and improving
nutrient efficiency. Most states in the Bay region are close to achieving their
2017 milestones and are well on their way to reach the 2025 goals. The chart
below shows the percentage of the 2017 milestone and 2025 goal achieved by agriculture
in each state for nitrogen and phosphorous.

Agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay region is
excelling in reaching their nutrient reduction goals through the use of best
management practices and efficient application of manure and commercial
fertilizer. Operations are working to “avoid, control, and trap (ACT)” nutrient
runoff from agricultural operations using best management practices such as
cover crops, conservation tillage, and grass and forest buffers.

Maryland has been very successful in installing
these practices to avoid and control nutrient loss. As of June 30, 2013,
Maryland substantially surpassed their 2013 goals for each of the
aforementioned practices. Maryland has achieved 117% of their cover crop goal
for 2013, 262% of the forest buffer goal, and 401% of their goal for grass

For the agricultural sediment deposition, the 2017
TMDL milestone for sediment reduction has been surpassed by Maryland, West
Virginia and Delaware and Maryland and Delaware have already surpassed their
2025 final milestones. New York, Pennsylvania and, Virginia have achieved 91%,
81% and, 89.6% of their 2017 milestones for sediment reduction respectively.