UMES receives grant to help expand water and soil quality studies

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – Researchers at the Universtiy of Maryland Eastern Shore may have a win-win scenario on their hands with their newest project. On one hand – they’ll be looking at ways to limit the pollutants that come from run off from chicken houses – which is good news for people who live near chicken farms.  But at the same time – they’ll also be also be looking at ways to keep that fertilizer on the farms from which the come.

Researchers say a new field testing facility on their campus will open up a wide variety of opportunities to study how water and soil quality can impact the environment. “It’s a way of having a focused area and kind of a controlled area rather than an entire watershed to look at these real critical issues,” said Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Sciences Dr. Amy Collick.

Thanks to a $300,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture – researchers and students will soon have new ways to study and monitor the impact of runoff from chicken houses on the environment. Dr. Collick is spearheading the project. She says it’ll help find the best method to reduce pollutants and help farmers retain their fertilizer better. “This facility will allow us to test a variety of them and have them isolated as single practices but also working together to compound the reduction,” said Dr. Collick.

The study will be looking at older chicken houses in particular – because many don’t meet the standards that newer buildings must meet. In a statement, the Maryland Department of the Environment tells 47ABC, “An applicable poultry house must register with MDE and take steps to prevent nutrients from polluting groundwater or surface water. The Animal Feeding Operations permit requires that stormwater on the property be kept separate from the poultry house production areas.”

Dr. Collick says because of the way chicken houses are situated on UMES’ campus – it creates a perfect opportunity to study this further. “There’s a good set of ditch networks and some older poultry house systems that we’ll be able to look at,” said Dr. Collick.

Dr. Collick tells 47abc that this helps not only to prevent pollution – but give farmers more research to better their production. “Those are situations we’re trying to avoid as well as supporting farmers to be able to have enough crops to feed our growing populations,” said Dr. Collick.

The first step now that the university has the grant money is to begin soil sampling on their research farm. That way researchers can get a baseline for their studies.

In a statement – Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. says that this study is exciting because it adds resources for the chicken community. “Over the past 30 years, farmers’ commitment to sustainable practices has resulted in reducing agriculture’s nitrogen and phosphorus loads to the Chesapeake Bay by 25 percent. And Maryland’s agriculture sector has reduced the nitrogen it sends to the Bay by even more — 35 percent. All that progress helped us meet the most recent benchmarks for reducing phosphorus and sediment that enters the Bay. DPI’s long-running vegetative environmental buffers program is one way we do our part to help everyone in the chicken community meet sustainability goals.”

Researchers say that the operation should be in full swing in the coming months.

Categories: Local News, Maryland