It's a Fact of Life on the Farm...

Centuries ago farmers realized that this plentiful resource makes a grea​t natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. Today, farmers still use manure to grow their crops while using the latest environmental practices to protect water quality. You've come to the right place if you are:

  • A citizen who wants to learn more about how farmers manage manure resources​
  • A farmer who wants to switch to manure as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment​

chicken manure makes a great natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. But did you know that farmers who use manure take e​xtra steps to protect local streams and the Chesapeake Bay? Maryland farmers test their soil to see if chicken manure is the right fertilizer for their crops. Nutrient management plans tell them how much manure to use. Stream buffers and setbacks keep manure and its nutrients away from local ​ streams. 

BUT NOT JUST YET. If you live in farm country, you may notice another scent. That's because farmers have begun spreading manure on their fields ahead of spring planting. To protect local streams, livestock farmers store manure over the winter. In March, they use the stored manure to fertilize their fields and improve their soil's health, following state guidelines. It can get a little smelly, but it won't last long. After all, today's manure grows tomorrow's flowers. Watch a short Maryland Farm and Harvest video about a Caroline County dairy farm that uses wood chips to protect local waterways. 

MARYLAND FARMERS ARE IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL WHEN IT COMES TO PROTECTING THE BAY. ​Keeping manure away from streams is a top priority. Today's farmers use the latest science to guide when, where, and how much manure to use as a crop fertilizer. That's why this spring, you'll see — and smell  manure being hauled from chicken farms to other types of farms and businesses that can safely recycle this valuable resource without harming the Chesapeake Bay. See how chicken farmers manage manure. 

Walk this Way Chicks
THERE'S MORE TO MANURE THAN MEETS THE NOSE. Livestock manure makes a great natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. It helps build healthy soils that are rich in organic matter and full of life  both above and below the ground. Follow your nose and you'll see that farmers have begun preparing their fields for spring planting. They use best management practices to make sure that spreading manure does not impact local water​s and the Chesapeake Bay. Watch a short Maryland Farm & Harvest YouTube video on what happens to dairy ​manure.​  

It turns out, chicken manure not only makes a great fertilizer  it actually builds healthy soils. The organic matter in manure helps the soil store nutrients, soak up water, and ward off erosion. It even promotes the growth of beneficial organisms that make the soil more productive. To protect nearby waterways, farmers ​follow strict environmental rules when applying manure. After all, healthy soil and clean water go hand in hand. Learn about manure and healthy soils here.​

strike pay dirt with manureTHINKING ABOUT SWITCHING TO POULTRY MANURE as a crop fertilizer and soil conditioner? Our Manure Transport Program makes it easy to start using poultry manure. With our new and improved FastTrack grants you can haul your load now, and apply for cost-share ​reimbursement later. Everyone knows that poultry manure can help improve your soil and save on commercial​ fertilizer costs. Isn't it time you made the switch? Farmers with fields that have allowable soil phosphorus levels (below MD P-FIV 101) should check out our FastTrack grants.
GrowwithManure.jpgALREADY USING MANURE? 
Technical and financial
resources are available to farmers who use all types of livestock manure to fertilize their fields. Check out the links at right. Free technical assistance is always just a phone call away at your local Soil Conservation District.
pile of manure with lightbulbWE HAVE A BRIGHTER IDEA
New technology is helping us to see manure in a whole new light as we capitalize on its potential as a renewable energy source and look at new uses and management options. Maryland is investing in innovative manure management technologies, including manure-to-energy projects that turn chicken manure into power and help farmers find new uses for this abundant natural resource. Check out our Animal Waste Technology Grants. ​