FYI: Maryland’s New Nutrient Management Regulations

The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) revised nutrient management regulations took effect October 15, 2012 and are being implemented in stages over the next several years. Here are descriptions of the new requirements along with corresponding deadlines.


Effective Immediately

Nutrient management plans that were developed before October 15, 2012 will need to be updated when they expire or if there are changes to the operation that require modifications, whichever comes first. Plans revised or updated after October 15, 2012 must be developed and implemented in accordance with the revised requirements outlines in Maryland’s Nutrient Management Manual.


Beginning Spring 2013

Manure, biosolids and other organic nutrient sources must be injected or incorporated into soil within 48 hours of application. There are exceptions for spray irrigation on a growing crop, permanent pastures, hay production fields, and highly erodible fields. Information clarifying exceptions and guidance can be found at Click on Nutrient Management under the Quick Links menu.


Beginning Fall 2013

Fall application of nitrogen is prohibited on small grains if a fall nitrate test indicates levels greater than 10 parts per million (ppm) for wheat or 15 ppm for barley.

Cover crops must be planted when organic nutrient sources are applied in the fall.


Beginning January 1, 2014

Farmers are required to establish a 35 ft. setback for fertilizer applications adjacent to surface waters and streams. The setback is reduced to 10 ft. when “directed” application methods are used such as directed spray or injection, which reduce the potential for nutrient losses. No crop plants may be grown on the 10 ft. setback area with the exception of pasture and hay. Crop plants may be grown on the remaining 25 ft. setback, but may not be fertilized unless a “directed” application method is used.

Livestock access to streams and certain surface waters is restricted by a minimum of 10 ft. setback. Fencing is not necessarily a requirement. The regulations allow soil conservation district staff to pasture management techniques or vegetative exclusion will work equally as well as fencing in protecting water quality.


Beginning July 1, 2016

Nutrient applications are prohibited between November 1 and March 1 for Eastern Shore farmers and between November 15 and March 1 for Western Shore farmers. This requirement applies to farmers with 50 or more animal units (1 animal unit equals 1,000 pounds of live animal weight.)


Beginning March 1, 2020

Farmers with fewer than 50 animal units are prohibited from applying nutrients between November 1 and March 1 on the Eastern Shore and between November 15 and March 1 on the Western Shore.


Source: University of Maryland Extension

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