Conservation > Nutrient Management

 About Maryland's Nutrient Management Program

The Nutrient Management Program protects water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by ensuring that farmers and urban land managers apply fertilizers, animal manure and other nutrient sources in an effective and environmentally sound manner. The program receives guidance from the Nutrient Management Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from agricultural interests, environmental groups, the turfgrass industry, biosolids firms, the University of Maryland, and a host of local, state and government agencies. 

 Agricultural Nutrient Management Program

Farmers are required to follow nutrient management plans when fertilizing crops and managing animal waste. These plans specify how much fertilizer, manure or other nutrient sources may be safely applied to crops to achieve yields and prevent excess nutrients from impacting waterways. Nutrient management plans generally are required for all agricultural land used to produce plants, food, feed, fiber, animals or other agricultural products.

MDA’s nutrient management specialists verify that farmers are following their plans, conduct site visits, and investigate complaints involving manure and other nutrient sources. Violators face fines and penalties of up to $2,000 a year and loss of MDA cost-share grants.  

On October 15, 2012, MDA’s Revised Nutrient Management Regulations became effective. The revised regulations modify how a farm nutrient management plan is developed and implemented and change the way organic nutrient sources and other materials are managed. The requirements—which will be phased in over the next several years—will help Maryland meet nutrient reduction goals outlined in its Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for the Chesapeake Bay. Farmers and consultants click here to learn more.

Turfgrass Nutrient Management Program

Maryland's Lawn Fertilizer Law requires lawn care professionals to be licensed and certified by MDA to apply turf fertilizer to properties that they manage or work under the direct supervision of someone who is certified. MDA, and the University of Maryland, provide training and testing for lawn care professionals. In addition, both lawn care professionals and homeowners are required to obey fertilizer application restrictions, observe fertilizer blackout dates, use best management practices and follow University of Maryland recommendations when fertilizing lawns. Click here to learn more.