In an effort to strike compromise between the agriculture and environmental communities, Gov. Larry Hogan released his own phosphorus-limiting regulations Monday.This doesn't seem like much of a pull back from the regulations promulgated by O'Malley, and rescinded by Hogan. It gives farmers an extra year to get into the program. Since these things always get written at the last minute anyway, that's probably a negative. But it goes after phosphorus saturated soil immediately, and since that's what the enviros are screaming about the most, that seems to be a concession.
“The Governor’s proposal is certainly an improvement over previous phosphorus management proposals,” said Minority Whip Sen. Steve Hershey, R-36-Upper Shore. “It’s a compromise between the stakeholders and a sensible approach to reducing phosphorus on farmland.”
The Phosphorus Management Tool regulations start with what was proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in November and alter it several ways. It is also part of a broader “Maryland Agriculture Phosphorus Initiative,” which, according to the governor’s office, “will further Maryland’s efforts to improve water quality, strengthen the agricultural industry, and bolster rural economies.”
Hogan’s proposal delays PMT implementation by one year, starting in 2016 with full implementation by 2022, which takes it from a six-year implementation to seven years. According to the governor’s office, it allows farmers two years to develop nutrient management plans using the new PMT and the existing Phosphorus Site Index before management changes are required.
The proposal also immediately bans the use of phosphorus on sites with a Fertility Index Value — the amount of phosphorus present in the soil — greater than 500 until full implementation in 2022. This is done to immediately stop the use of phosphorus on fields with the highest likelihood of it leeching into the Chesapeake Bay.
Hogan’s PMT proposal also includes details to collect soil test phosphorus data from every farm in Maryland every six years starting in 2016. That would give the Maryland Department of Agriculture soil fertility data to monitor trends in phosphorus levels and identify potential areas to redistribute manure.
Git 'er done.