BEACON to conduct study ahead of 2020 PMT regulations
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Farmers on the eastern shore are still waiting for a solution from the state on the costs and resources they’ll need when the Phosphorous management tool is fully implemented on January 1st 2020.
Local farmer Virgil Shockley explains, “I’ve said this from day one, I don’t want to be moving the problem I want to solve the problem. Let’s come up with something that we can use manure for in a different alternative source.”
That’s what everyone on Maryland’s PMT committee is hoping for in the coming months as the state approaches the final year of implementing regulations on how much manure farmers can spread on their fields and essentially where that manure will go if it can’t be used.
Shockley adds, “If there isn’t anything out there, what is actually the cost of saying ‘Okay, we need 20 trucks and those 20 trucks need to go to wherever, okay what is the cost of that? Who is paying for it?”
Questions that many are hoping will be answered by Salisbury University BEACON, who’s doing a study on just that.
Hans Schmidt of Maryland’s Dept. of Agriculture says, “There needs to be a study done to see whether the state and whether the industry has the adequate resources to handle the materials that are being generated whether it’s animal waste or human waste or food waste.”
It’s a study that will ultimately determine whether or not a delay in implementing the final PMT regulations needs to take place before the end of the year.
It’s a move many farmers are hoping for because if there isn’t a delay, Shockley says, “In the lower three counties you’re probably going to take out about 80% of the fields that you’re going to be able to spread manure on. Now the other side of that is the people that are using sludge have to have a place to put it too.”
Once the PMT committee gets a chance to look over the BEACON study this fall, then they will use those findings to recommend a plan of action to the Secretary of Agriculture.
And while officials and farmers wait for the results of the BEACON report, the Dept. of Agriculture is also investing in possible solutions to the manure transport and storage issue.
That’s because part of PMT regulations require alternative technologies. So right now there are a few projects that’s trying to figure out how the manure can be used in other aspects, like whether or not it can be converted into energy, or compost.
“We’ve got one project that we’re looking at going to be more of a regional project that will be able to handle up to 90,000 tons of litter a year,” explains Schmidt.
Now we’re told that these projects like the one just mentioned are still in early stages but the Dept. of Agriculture says they have seen some early success with composting.