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

​YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD THE SAYING...If you’ve got farm animals, you’ve got manure. But long ago, farmers learned that this plentiful resource makes an excellent fertilizer for all types of crops. Today, farmers still use manure to grow their crops while following the latest science and environmental practices to protect local streams, rivers,​ and the Chesapeake Bay. Want to know more? 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​​​
 
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WE'VE GOT THIS!

Maryland farmers use the latest science and technology to grow healthy chickens and reduce their environmental footprint. In the spring, they recycle chicken manure as an organic fertilizer for their crops, following strict environmental rules. It doesn't smell pretty, but it sure helps the crops grow strong and healthy. The good news is the smell usually goes away in a few days. Watch a Maryland chicken farmer discuss what it takes to grow healthy chickens and protect local streams.​​


Chicks_Know.jpgSOMETIMES SHORTCUTS CAN LEAD TO BAD OUTCOMES.

That’s why Maryland farmers rely on proven conservation practices to protect local streams. In the pasture, they use fences and other methods to keep livestock—and manure—out of streams. To protect ​against runoff, Maryland farmers do not spread manure on farmland i​n winter. March 1 is the earliest they can use manure to grow crops—no shortcuts allowed. As far as the smell is concerned, there’s no way around that either.​​ Watch a short video on how a Baltimore County beef farmer is protecting local streams.


WHAT DO YOU KNOW? ​

Everyone knows that chicken manure makes a great fertilizer and soil conditioner. But did you know that farmers who use manure take extra 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. Meet the next generation of Maryland chicken farmers.


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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. Learn more. Watch a short Maryland Farm & Harvest video on what happens to dairy ​manure.​


strike pay dirt with manure

LET'S TALK MANURE

In this short video segment from the University of Maryland's 2021 virtual Breakfast on the Farm event, the department's own Dwight Dotter explains how manure is used and managed on the farm. Click here to watch. 


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WHY DO FARMERS FLOCK TO MANURE?

​It turns out, chicken manure not only makes a great fertilizer — it 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. Farmers ​follow strict environmental rules when applying manure. After all, healthy soil and clean water go hand in hand.  ​Watch a short Maryland Farm and Harvest video on an enterprising way to manage manure.


strike pay dirt with manure

​WANT TO SWITCH TO POULTRY MANURE?​

Our Manure Transport Program makes it easy to start using poultry manure.  Farmers with fields that have allowable soil phosphorus levels (below MD P-FIV 101) should check out our Manure Transport Grants. 

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ALREADY 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 under Farmer Resources. Free technical help​ is always just a phone call away at your local ​Soil​ Conservation District.

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strike pay dirt with manure

WE 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.  Maryland is investing in innovative manure management technologies, including projects that turn chicken manure into power. ​ Check out our Animal Waste Technology Grants.

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