Soil & Health Workshop November 7

The St. Mary’s SCD & Southern MD Resource Conservation and Development, in conjunction with NRCS, will be hosting a Soil Health Workshop on November 7th at the Agricultural Center in Leonardtown. There is no fee to attend, registration is required, & a free lunch will be provided. Click here for more details. To RSVP, or if you have any questions, contact Denitra Brawner on 240-577-6413 or Denitra.brawner@somdrcd.org.

Nature Conservancy Accepting Proposals for School Gardens

The Nature Conservancy is working to promote environmental education through Nature Works Everywhere gardens – plots that model conservation science on a relatable scale. The program is designed for schools, with whom conservation districts can partner and support. Applications are due November 3. To apply, and for more information, click details.

New Educational Materials Available in NACD's Marketplace

NACD’s 2018 “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home” educational materials are now available for print on demand AND free download in their Marketplace. Water is one of our most precious resources. Watersheds supply water for drinking and recreation, irrigation and manufacturing, and wildlife and bird habitat. It is essential that each of us adopts good water conservation habits so that we can keep our water resources safe and productive now and for future generations. Click here to access the educational materials. 

NACD Releases 2018 Farm Bill Requests

Over the past year and a half, NACD’s Farm Bill Task Force has worked to create a set of policy requests for the 2018 Farm Bill. Starting with a survey of their member's last summer, the Task Force created a set of principles that helped to guide the formulation of NACD’s 2018 Farm Bill requests. NACD’s Government Affairs Team will now be taking these requests to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees and other members of Congress, detailing the policies and funding levels NACD supports for the next 2018 Farm Bill. Read the requests here.

Annual Cover Crop Report Released

The fifth consecutive national cover crop survey was published online recently by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and its partners: Purdue University, USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA). The survey’s more than 2,000 farmer respondents reported increased yields in corn, soybeans, and wheat, plus improved control of herbicide-resistant weeds following the use of cover crops. CTIC also found that acreage planted in cover crops has nearly doubled in the past five years. To download, click report.

NACD Urban and Community Conservation Webinar, August 17

The next NACD Urban and Community Conservation webinar – sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and scheduled for noon on August 17 – will showcase the efforts of two conservation districts to promote home gardening with native species. To join the conversation, make sure to register (for free!) by emailing Deb Bogar at deb-bogar@nacdnet.org with your name, title, district or business name, and state.

Recognize a Pollinator Advocate!

NACD and the Pollinator Partnership are currently accepting nominations for the 2017 Farmer Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award. The award recognizes farmers and ranchers who protect and support pollinators through their operations. Click here to access the nomination form; nominations are due August 11.

Delaware-Maryland 4R Field Day, August 23rd

Come and hear from farmers, researchers and agribusiness professionals about the 4R's of nutrient management; source, rate, time and place and how they are using them to improve the environment and social and economic returns. James Adkins of University of Delaware and Dr. Jarrod Miller will be the featured researchers discussing source, placement, irrigation and precision agriculture. You will also see an exciting technology demonstration! Then hear from a farmers panel on how they implement the 4R's on their farms. There will be exhibits by our agribusiness sponsors. This is a free event. Lunch is provided. Register here.

Poultry Mortality Complosting Short Course and Demonstration

Thursday, July 27, 2017 from 9:00 AM- 3:00 PM at the Wye Research and Education Center, 124 Wye Narrows Drive Queenstown, MD. $42 cost. Please register by Monday July 24. For questions, call 301-405-1198 or email tscites@umd.edu. For more information, click details. 

The General Forestry Course

The University of Maryland Extension will offer the General Forestry Course for the fall 2017 semester.  Both the paper and online version will be offered.  The course begins September 1 and runs until December 15, 2017.  Registration opens June 1st.  Click here for registration. For more, visit details.

Informational Webinar on RSET Now Available

NRCS has archived several educational webinars for districts on the Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool. Go to this YouTube playlist to access the webinars.The webinars include “RSE Overview,” “Cropland RSE: How-To Guide,” “Range RSE: How-To Guide,” “Pasture RSE: How-To Guide,” and “Science Behind RSE.”

CTA Educational Two-Pager

The USDA Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program is the lifeblood of conservation in the United States. Through NRCS and its local, state, and national partners, CTA helps landowners become better stewards of their natural resources by assisting them with resource assessment, practical design, planning, and monitoring of conservation practices. In the wake of President Trump’s FY18 budget request and Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s proposed plans to reorganize USDA, NACD has created this educational two-pager on the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program. Click here for more.

Soil Health Webinar

NRCS is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, June 13 at 2:00 pm EDT on how to improve soil health on urban farms. The webinar will discuss how a soil health management system can be implemented on a 3.5-acre mixed vegetable, urban farm to enhance microbial soil life. No pre-registration is necessary. For more, click details.

Call for Applications: SHI Soil Health Grants

To populate its Soil Health Research Landscape Tool – an electronic library of peer-reviewed literature and scientific resources related to soil health – the Soil Health Institute is granting awards for the development of soil health literature, websites, databases, and other scientific resources. The deadline for application submission is June 23 at 11:59pm EDT; more information is available here

Helping People Help Pollinators Webinar

Learn what your district can do to boost pollinator habitat on the next NACD Urban and Community Conservation webinar, scheduled June 15 at noon 1:00pm Eastern time. Nancy Adamson, a pollinator conservation specialist for the Xerces Society, will speak to the value of pollinators, the challenges they face, and what resources individuals and communities can use to protect them. Holly Anderson, the urban conservationist for the Pulaski Conservation District in Arkansas, will share how the district used funding and technical assistance for school pollinator gardens and activities. These webinars are sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and are free to participate in. To register, email NACD’s Deb Bogar with your name, title, district or business name, and state.

Montgomery County Looking to Hire:

Position: Manager III
Job Title: Soil Conservation District Manager
Location: 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD 20855

The Montgomery Soil Conservation District Manager (District Manager) is a non-merit position responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, policies, finances, and planning for the Montgomery County Soil Conservation District (MSCD), which is a political subdivision of the State of MD. The District Manager ensures that the daily operations are completed efficiently and effectively. The District Manager reports to both the Montgomery County Soil Conservation District Board of Supervisors and to the Director of the County’s Office of Agriculture. For more, please click Application. The deadline is June 10th.

Announcing the Formation of The Northeast Cover Crops Council and Upcoming Meeting

The Northeast Cover Crops Council (NECCC) was recently formed by a group comprised of farmers and representatives from NGOs, the ag industry, government agencies including USDA NRCS and USDA ARS, and universities. The mission of the NECCC is to support the successful implementation of cover crops to maximize economic, environmental, and social benefits. We facilitate regional collaboration between farmers, researchers, and the public to foster the exchange of information, inspiration, and outcome-based research. The November 2017 NECCC meeting will be open to the public and will feature panels, presentations, and posters related to cover crops. For more information and to indicate your interest in attending, please click details. The NECCC website and a meeting registration page will be online soon.

Conservation Client Gateway Available to More Producers than Ever

Conservation Client Gateway, the secure online web application for landowners and land managers, is now available to business entities in addition to individual landowners. So, if your family-owned farming operation is an LLC or another business entity consistent with USDA’s entity categories, you can now access the Conservation Client Gateway. Earlier versions limited access to individual landowners. Conservation Client Gateway gives landowners and land managers the ability to track their payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign documents online anytime, anywhere. Click here to learn more.

Managing Water Webinar Series

The Irrigation Association is bringing back a popular webinar series where participants hear from industry experts on issues affecting irrigated agriculture and the benefits of water management. Click here to register for these free webinars:

Webinar schedule is as follows: 
May 18 - “The Plant Something Initiative”; 
June 8 - “Agricultural Irrigation in the Mississippi River Basin”; 
June 20 - “WaterSense & SWAT – What’s the Difference?”; 
June 29 - “Telling a Positive Story about Irrigated Agriculture”; 
July 13 - “Water Infrastructure in America – Challenges & Opportunities for Irrigated Agriculture”.

NACD Urban Ag Grant Opportunity

This year, NACD will award grants to 20 urban or suburban districts through this initiative to build technical capacity for agriculture conservation. There was a webinar earlier this month providing guidance for the application process, as well as advice from Muskingum SWCD, one of 42 2016 Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant recipients. The deadline for 2017 proposals is May 14. Click here to view the archived webinar and learn more.

Need Photos of Conservation Practices?

USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has accumulated over 1,500 images of cover crops and soil health. You are free to download and disseminate these photos as part of your district’s educational outreach efforts. In addition to SARE’s Cover Crop Image Library, the program also offers educators and producers free, ready-made PowerPoint presentations on cover crop topics and soil health illustrations. You can check them all out here. And for resources on cover crops from SARE, click here.

Voluntary Conservation Grassroots Advocacy

The National Association of Conservation Districts has created a new Grassroots Advocacy webpage stocked with information and templates to help you contact Congress and advocate for issues important to conservation districts. Right now, it is critical Congress hears directly from you why Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) funding is crucial to this country’s conservation delivery system. If CTA were to be eliminated or severely reduced, it would drastically hinder efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. For more, click details.

High Tunnel Webinar April 26

NRCS is hosting an informational webinar on high tunnels April 26th from 2:00 to 3:00pm Eastern. Presenter Dr. Lewis Jett, a horticulture extension specialist for the University of West Virginia, will explain how high tunnel cropping systems can address issues with salinity, nutrient management, and pest management. More information can be found here.

Urban Watersheds Webinar

Tune in Thursday, April 20th at noon for an NACD-hosted, Scotts Miracle-Gro-sponsored webinar on using GIS in urban watersheds. Representatives from Franklin SWCD in central Ohio will explain how they have prioritized locations for stormwater management practices using extensive GIS datasets – and how the City of Columbus is following in their footsteps. Registration is free, but please RSVP to NACD Senior Advisor Deb Bogar with your name, title, district or business name, and state.

Healthy Soils are Full of Life! Materials

NACD is now taking printing requests for Healthy Soils are Full of Life! materials. The stewardship and education materials are now eligible for print-on-demand services from Goetz printing. For more, click healthy soils.

New Riparial Buffer Resource

Forest buffers are one of the most cost-effective practices for reducing pollution. But what other benefits can they bring the Chesapeake Bay? A new resource is now available for Districts and other partners in the Chesapeake region that work to restore riparian buffers. Click details for more. 

Regional Conservation Partnership Program Workshop & Training April 7

The Baltimore County SCD and Maryland NRCS are hosting a workshop for current and potential new Regional Conservation Partnership Program partners to discuss pre-proposal submission requirements, offer insight into NRCS’s priority resource concerns, answer questions, and provide opportunities to collaborate. Anyone considering applying should attend on April 7th at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, 1114 Shawan Road, Cockeysville, Maryland 21030, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information, click details.

Healthy Soils Workshop March 14 & 15

The Adaptation and Response Work Group of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change is sponsoring regional workshops focusing on soil science and soil health on March 14 at Hood College in Frederick and March 15 at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills. The workshops also include a presentation on the guidelines and application process for a $100,000 Innovation Technology grant that will be awarded for projects dealing with the integration of nutrient reductions with climate change adaptation. This event is free but registration is requested. Please email Phillip Stafford at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, or Susan Payne at the MDA, no later than noon on March 10. See flyer for details.

Conservation Webinar March 16

NACD has joined The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and a dozen other organizations to help homeowners use water more efficiently. This national initiative, “Water Positive Landscapes,” will be featured on the next NACD Urban and Community Conservation webinar on March 16 from 12-1:00pm. Register to attend by emailing Debra Bogar with your name, title, district or business name, and state.

RCPP Webinar March 22

Are you interested in participating in a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project? Pre-applications will be accepted by NRCS now until April 21. To learn more about RCPP proposal requirements and best practices, consider tuning into one upcoming webinars, to be held on March 22 and April 5. For more information, click details.

Prince George's SCD Sponsoring "Bringing Nature Home" Event April 21

The Prince George's Soil Conservation District will be sponsoring a speaking engagement featuring Dr. Doug Tallamy on Bringing Nature Home. The event will be held on April 21st at Bowie City Hall. As many SCDs are branching out into “urban ag”, this is a MUST event to attend.  His topics are relevant to the everyday agricultural community as well. Click flyer for details.

MASCD Hosts Legislative Luncheon

The Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) hosted their annual legislative luncheon in conjunction with their winter meeting on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. Representatives from all of the 24 soil conservation districts in Maryland were joined by over 60 legislators at this event. Soil conservation districts took this opportunity to highlight the importance of state support for the districts and the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost Share Program. Legislators from all over the state expressed their understanding of the importance of the technical assistance that the districts provide to farmers, landowners, and the urban community. Full story.

Chesapeake Bay District Partners to Accelerate Conservation Adoption

 In an effort to comply with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan, the Harford Soil Conservation District (HSCD) has worked within its community to help meet the 2017 EPA mandated pollution reduction requirements. Recognizing the need to go beyond traditional boundaries to address soil and water conservation, the HSCD and Ecotone, Inc. (Ecotone) have developed a unique public-private partnership to become a driving force in helping achieve Maryland’s pollutant reduction goals. 

This partnership with Ecotone, enacted through a Memorandum of Agreement, has allowed the HSCD to effortlessly explore new funding sources and cost-effectively execute agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) throughout Harford County. “Ecotone’s assistance with grant funding preparation and environmental [BMPs] design & construction has accelerated the restoration efforts to local tributaries leading to the Chesapeake Bay.” says Bill Tharpe, District Manager. Full story

2017 Soil Planners Now Available

The new 2017 Soils Planner titled “Soils Have Memory” is now available online at the NRCS Soils website. To view, click here. You will also find all Soils Planners published since 1999, providing a valuable educational resource. Past Soils Planners have covered a wide range of topics including: soil biology, State soils, hydric soils, Lewis and Clark Bicentennial (Soil Paintings), International Year of Soils, and many others.


Leader of US Grains Council Demos Conservation Practices

Chip Councell, a 10th generation farmer from Talbot County, Maryland, and chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, hosted representatives from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture at his farm last week to demonstrate the value of soil health practices, crop rotation, nutrient management, voluntary conservation programs, and precision agriculture.

Councell, who was named the 2010 cooperator of the year by the Talbot Soil Conservation District, says his success “takes every piece of the puzzle - the conservation plans, the equipment, the biotechnology all put together in the best way to fit the operation."

Excerpt from NACD eResource.

Bartenfelder: New Winter Manure Rules Protect the Bay

Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder wrote into the Baltimore Sun responding to a recent op-ed, “Maryland Wants to Weaken Winter Manure Rules”, claiming that it did not provide readers with the facts about the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s proposed changes to state nutrient management regulations. Changes to the regulations include: an emergency provision during winter restrictions to prevent overflow from a storage facility, minimizing impact and prevent run-off into our waterways; adding a provision that farmers cannot ever apply manure if the ground is frozen or snow covered and requiring 100-foot setbacks from surface water for any spreading during the winter; Removing the incorporation requirement for spring and fall manure spreading to improve soil health; and Extending the fall spreading dates to Sept. 10-Dec. 15 and eliminating the east and west of the bay distinction to provide consistency across the State and with average weather conditions. “These changes will balance environmental protections and maintain sustainable soil health within the realities of farming and Mother Nature. When working around unknown conditions — like weather — it's difficult to develop a one-size fits all solution,” Bartenfelder says. Full story.

December NACD U&C Webinar: Managing Small Horse Farms

The next NACD Urban and Community Conservation webinar sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company will feature the ways districts can help horse owners on small acreage protect their land and water resources.

Alayne Blickle of Horses for Clean Water will explain how her organization helps horse owners manage their land in the best way possible for horse health and the environment through consultation, workshops, farm tours, and educational materials. Bobbi Lindemulder with Snohomish Conservation District in Washington state will show how her district teaches landowners to manage their pastures, prevent mud and manure problems, keep weeds at bay, and more. To join the conversation, email deb-bogar@nacdnet.org, and tune in December 15 from noon to 1:00pm Eastern. To view archived webinars, visit webinars.

Source Water Collaborative Holding Webinar on Messaging for Ag Producers

As part of its Learning Exchange Webinar Series, the Source Water Collaborative is holding its fifth webinar on agricultural messaging on December 6 from 1:00 to 2:00pm Eastern. Several of the collaborative’s partners – including representatives of the Missouri Rural Water Association, the U.S. EPA, and Lancaster Farmland Trust – will share the strategies they use to overcome barriers to outreach. To register, click on registration details.

Conservation Innovation Grant

The USDA is now seeking proposals for cutting-edge projects that will provide new conservation opportunities through its competitive Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. The department will invest up to $25 million for projects that spark the development and adoption of innovative conservation technologies and approaches in areas like conservation finance, data analytics, and precision conservation to benefit producers on private agricultural and forest lands. CIG uses EQIP funds to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, or individuals. Proposals are due by Jan. 9, 2017. For details, click here..

MD Energy Administration's Mathias Ag Program

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is offering a grant through the Mathias Ag Program for agricultural producers and ag businesses to install energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The grant will provide free technical assistance, along with up to 50% of the cost for energy efficiency projects, and up to 25% of the cost for renewable energy projects. Renewable energy projects must be done in conjunction with energy efficiency. The application deadline date is December 15th. MEA is offering two information webinars on this grant program, Monday November 14 and Wednesday, November 30. For more information, click details.

MASCD Bids Farewell to Lynne Hoot and Welcomes Lindsay Thompson as Executive Director

MASCD wishes a happy retirement and safe travels to former executive director Lynne Hoot. Thank you for your many years of service!

Congratulations to successor Lindsay Thompson, new executive director. We are excited to continue on under your leadership!

Lindsay, along with Programs and Public Relations Director Danielle Bauer and Administrative Assistant Marguerite Guare, are all set up at their new office in Centreville. Please note the phone number has changed to 443-262-8491.

To read Lynne's farewell comments, click here. To learn more about Lindsay and the transition, click here.

Farmers Care About the Bay, Too!

Three of Delmarva’s own national leaders, Lee McDaniel, Chip Bowling and Richard Wilkins, collaborated to share the importance of voluntary conservation in the Chesapeake Bay region through a commentary in the Baltimore Sun. The three boasted that, “the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in North America, is home to more than 83,000 farms that together generate $10 billion in economic activity each year. For decades, these producers have stepped up all across the watershed, assumed responsibility for their share of the nutrient and sediment pollution in the bay, and worked tirelessly toward unprecedented, remarkable change. Just in the past seven years, the agriculture sector has single-handedly reduced its phosphorus and sediment runoff in the watershed by 50 and 75 percent respectively.” For more, read full story.

MASCD 2016 Outstanding Cooperator of the Year Recipient Pleasant Valley Farm Partnership

At their annual meeting on Monday, August 1, 2016, the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts announced that their 2016 Outstanding Cooperator Award Recipient is Montgomery County’s Pleasant Valley Farm Partnership, LLP (PVF).

PVF is a partnership between Robert Stabler and his family, and JB and Breck Debnam. They have actively managed their farm with strong conservation ethic. The farm has about 4,000 acres of cropland and hayland with a large herd of cattle in Montgomery County. They have installed many best management practices over the years, including no till and low tillage practices, cover crops, grass waterways, stream fencing, and spring fed watering facilities in their pastures.

Robert and his brother Drew began farming alongside their father in 1958. Robert has been a cooperator with the Montgomery Soil Conservation District for decades. Robert and Drew were both elected to the Governor’s Agricultural Hall of Fame in February of 2012. Robert has hosted several tours showcasing agriculture and conservation including a Congressional Farm Tour this year.

Robert serves on the Montgomery Soil Conservation District Board as a supervisor and has been an active member since 1987. PVF has worked with the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share Program in implementing BMPs’ on the farm. Their tireless commitment to conservation and their willingness to educate students, elected officials, and the general public are a tribute to the stewardship they show for the land and the agricultural industry.

Additional pictures of MASCD service award recipients can be found in the summer Partnership Press newsletter. For more information, contact Danielle Bauer, MASCD Program Assistant, (410) 956-5771, email danielle.mdag@gmail.com

Montgomery County Farmer Drew Stabler Recipient of the 2016 Good Steward Program

Drew Stabler didn’t learn the importance of conservation and sustainable farming so much as he absorbed it throughout a lifetime and six decades of farming. His journey to achieve sustainability earned Stabler recognition from the National Corn Growers Association for Good Stewardship during the recent 2016 Commodity Classic convention and trade show.

Stabler, of Laytonville, Md., is the third honoree in NCGA’s Good Steward Recognition Program which began in 2014. The program funding was provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their
Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.

“This program is about expanding awareness of the best management practices in sustainable corn production. Our goal is to recognize the special efforts of those who demonstrate the economic and conservation value of soil management,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “Drew has shown a lifelong commitment to conservation practices and sustainable production that is remarkable. It is my privilege to honor him with this recognition. It's people like Drew who lead by example on their farm and help make it possible for all Maryland farmers to continue to farm in the Chesapeake Bay watershed!”

Stabler owns and operates Sunny Ridge Farm, a grain and beef farm with his partners, Fred and David Lechlider in Montgomery County. He farms 1,800 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans and has 75 head of beef cattle.

“My dad was the extension agronomist for the University of Maryland, so he instilled in my brother and I the respect you had to have for the land and how you need to take care of it,” Stabler said. “That’s what we’ve always tried to do.”

Practices employed by Stabler include split nitrogen applications, contour farming, contour strip cropping, cover crops, grassed waterways, rotational grazing, filter strips, switchbacks and installation of spring-fed cattle troughs which have enabled him to install fencing to eliminate cattle contact with the nearby stream. He became a certified nutrient management planner so he can keep his nutrient management plan current.

“The Stabler Farm and the whole family have been conservationists from the beginning. Drew is really a pioneer and one of the early adopters of no-till farming starting in 1970, converting to completely no-till by 1985,” said Lynne Hoot, Executive Director of the Maryland Grain Producers Association. “The farm is located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is a focal point for the national discussion on soil conservation and water quality. Drew has become a needed spokesperson for the industry.”

In addition to making significant improvements on his farm, Stabler is a leader in conservation outreach. He has hosted numerous tours and field days for local farmers, agribusinesses, and agency officials and legislative leaders.

“All the conservation practices we’ve done have rewarded us from the savings and conservation of soil or the good for the environment,” Stabler added. “I appreciate the recognition for our farm. It’s been a team effort.”

MASCD Awarded RCPP Grant

MASCD President Charles Rice joined NRCS Chief Jason Weller, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder, Robert Emerson, Delaware Association of Conservation Districts and our grant partners on Friday, February, 12th for the announcement that MASCD has been awarded a 4.5 million RCCP grant. RCPP draws on local knowledge and networks to fuel conservation projects. Meeting WIP Goals in the Chesapeake Bay brings together 15 partners to accelerate the installation of conservation practices to enable Maryland and Delaware farmers to meet the nutrient and sediment water quality goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). Partners offered an additional $5.4 million in matching funds, bringing the total value of the project to more than $10 million.

The core emphasis of this grant proposal in Maryland is that farmers will be receiving technical assistance from their trusted soil conservation district staff to install best management practices on their land with an emphasis on animal waste for livestock and poultry.  Our partners will assist the districts with innovative practices on the Eastern Shore and to spread the word to potential farmers.  Financial assistance for these farmers will be provided through the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share Program and the RCPP Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) program funds.

In Maryland, the focus will be on animal related conservation practices, including animal waste storage, stream fencing, heavy use areas and barnyard runoff. To meet Maryland’s new Phosphorus Management Tool requirements, conservation district staff will work with dairy farmers to install state-of-the-art liquid separation technology to overcome the cost of moving the liquid portion of manure long distances to crop fields that require more phosphorus.

On the Delmarva Peninsula, crop farmers will be advised on the recent research finding on innovative variable rate nitrogen application techniques (GreenSeeker) and be encouraged to sign up for advanced nutrient management practices. Conservation district staff will be trained on nitrogen removal woodchip bioreactors, which are showing up to 90 percent Nitrogen removal on trial sites. In Delaware, emphasis will be on crop production and expanded use of cover crops.

NRCS selected eight Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects within the Chesapeake Bay watershed in 2015. Through those eight projects, approximately $45 million in NRCS funding is now available to agricultural producers over the next five years. Partner contributions associated with these projects total over $35 million.

Kasey Taylor, DE NRCS State Conservationist; Lindsay Thompson, MASCD; Charles Rice, MASCD; Jason Weller, Chief, NRCS, Joe Bartenfelder, Secretary MDA; Dr. Terron Hillsman, MD NRCS State Conservationist; Robert Emerson, DACD; Hans Schmidt, Assistant Secretary MDA; Jim Eichhorst, Assistant Secretary MDA

General Forestry Course - Fall 2016

The University of Maryland Extension will offer the General Forestry Course for the fall 2016 semester.  Both paper and online versions will be offered.  This is a non-credit course and the fee is $300. The course begins September 1 and runs until December 15, 2016.  Registration opens June 1st. Click here to register. For more information, click details, or contact Nancy Stewart: nstewar1@umd.edu or 410-827-8056 x107.


Hans Schmidt Chosen as New Assistant Secretary of Resource Conservation 

SchmidtMaryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder has appointed Hans Schmidt to Assistant Secretary of Resource Conservation, effective December 2. He will replace Royden Powell who retired on November 30 after serving MDA for more than 20 years in various capacities.

“We are very pleased to announce this appointment,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Hans’ expertise and accomplishments in resource conservation will be invaluable as we move forward with implementing programs that protect both our famers and our natural resources.”

Prior to this appointment, Schmidt has operated his family farm with his brother Alan where he was responsible for sustainability, conservation and agronomics. Their 2,100 acre farm is certified through the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP). They till about 1,800 acres and have several hundred acres of woodland and more than 120 acres in conservation.   In addition to his duties at Schmidt Farms Inc., Schmidt has served in leadership roles for several agriculture groups including Maryland Association of Conservation Districts, Maryland Soybean Board and State Soil Conservation Committee. In 2008, Schmidt Farms Inc was inducted into the Governor's Agriculture Hall of Fame and was selected as a national finalist in the Farm Journal Top Producer Award.

“I am honored and excited to take on this new opportunity,” said Schmidt. “I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to further the administration’s priorities and make sure our farmers have the resources they need to maintain responsible conservation plans.”

As Assistant Secretary, Schmidt will coordinate and manage the development and delivery of the agency’s soil and water conservation programs, which have been among the most high profile since the Bay restoration efforts escalated more than two decades ago. He also oversees the administration of regulatory and technical and financial assistance programs that help Maryland’s farmers implement sound conservation practices, maintain productive farmland, and protect valuable natural resources.

PHOTO CREDIT: Edwin Remsberg

MASCD and Montgomery SCD Host Congressioanl Event

montgomery event 8.15On Wednesday, August 12, 2015, the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) and the Montgomery Soil Conservation District hosted a congressional staff tour on five different farms in Montgomery County. The objective of the farm tour was to help the congressional staff understand how federal programs provide resources to farmers for conservation and to see conservation practices in action on a variety of operations. Representatives from Congressional members Cardin, Mikulski, Delaney, Edwards, and Van Hollen’s offices participated in the tour. Staff and interns from the Natural Resource Conservation Services attended as well. The group visited Randy Stabler at Pleasant Valley Farms, Tom and Paula Linthicum at Seneca Ayr Farm, Drew Stabler at Sunny Ridge Farm, Wade, Tyler and Ben Butler at Butler’s Orchard and John Fendrick at Woodbourne Creamery.

Participants viewed many conservation practices including stream fencing and watering systems, a chemical handling facility, cover crops, grassed waterways, rotational grazing and others. Guests also got to climb up on a “high-boy” sprayer, enjoy local ice cream, walk through a grain drying and storage facility and see an automated robotic milking machine. Throughout the day, farmers, conservation district, NRCS and MASCD staff discussed the cost of these practices and the importance of cost share assistance for conservation. Farmers made sure the visitors were aware of what is required of Maryland farmers by regulation and its impact on their businesses. Every farmer conveyed that they are happy to install the conservation practices because they feel it’s the right thing to do and they want to preserve the land for the next generation. The Congressional staff expressed that it was a very informative, enjoyable, and worthwhile visit.

2015 - International Year of Soils

2015 is officially the International Year of Soils as designated by the United Nations. NACD is proud to be a leader in the global effort to spread soil health awareness, promote best management practices (BMPs) for optimal soil health and vitality, and help producers as well as private citizens adopt and implement the most cutting-edge soil health management techniques.

NACD and NRCS are also teaming up on a national soil health campaign.  Along with many other partners including Soil Renaissance, the Soil Health Partnership, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the Farm Foundation, the National Corn Growers Association, Monsanto, the Conservation Technology Information Center, and many more, NACD is committed to increasing awareness and support for cover crops and soil health.

January 6 marked NRCS's official kick-off event for the International Year of Soils which was attended by NACD President-Elect Lee McDaniel, NACD Director of Projects and Partnerships Rich Duesterhaus, and NACD Director of Communications Bethany Shively. Speakers at the event included USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, NRCS Chief Jason Weller, and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

As part of a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) awarded to NACD by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, NACD and its partner Datu Research, LLC (Datu) are working to significantly scale up the number of farmed acres nationwide that are managed for soil health.  To learn more, click here. The International Year of Soils holds great potential for NACD and its partners to join the global effort promoting soil health.  For more information, visit 2015 International Year of Soils

Pictured: USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie and NACD President-Elect Lee McDaniel.

Stewardship New Pollinator Meadow Planted at Baltimore County Ag-Center

The Baltimore County Ag-Center just got a little sweeter.  Bees from all over the County will be stopping by to take advantage of the 1.5 acre pollinator meadow that has just been planted as part of a USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant. The goal of the grant, awarded to MASCD, is to establish 41 acres of pollinator habitat across the state as a way to raise awareness about the essential role pollinators play in sustaining our food supply.

Nutrient Time Lag May Slow Chesapeake Bay Cleansing

It could take two to four decades or more to see significant water quality improvements in Chesapeake Bay tributaries on the Delmarva Peninsula because nitrogen-enriched groundwater moves so slowly through the system, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. The findings may have implications for measuring the success of a federal mandate to cut nutrient pollution of the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.


Maryland Farm and Harvest Episode 112 Explains Bioreactor Working to Filter Nutrient Runoff