State Conservationist Jon Hall welcomed 28 attendees of the State Technical
Advisory Committee (STAC). Members introduced themselves.
Sub Committee Reports
Dan Rider shared the following issues and concerns:
Marketing Issues and Solutions
Utilize private foresters to promote public programs
Develop joint brochure with NRCS that explains all program options
Hold joint trainings for Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and
NRCS forestry staff
Jon Hall suggests identifying a date in early December to hold
Lack of forestry interest in the Conservation Stewardship Program
Forestry bundle identified as hurdle in getting forest landowners to
sign up- doesn’t fit for Maryland.
Rider will work with Tom Morgart to draft letter to NRCS National
Headquarters suggesting ways to make bundles work in MD.
Baltimore County patches
GIS data was used to locate key patches of privately-owned
forestland in MD
Found that 85% of foresters in MD own less than 10 acres
Determine from this information is may be more affective to find
common goals among landowners in key patches and treat them as a whole
rather than individually.
Poultry litter as forest fertilizer
Research and science is solid, standards and BMPs are approved- may
need to be updated
Largest obstacle is lack of businesses to transport and apply
Considering applying for a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to
assist in setting up business to transfer the technology
Steve Strano raises concerns over impact of litter on trees.
Rider assures it will be applied at establishment or time of
Rudy Arredondo questions the runoff produced by this practice.
Tom Morgart explains that there is enough material on the ground to
soak up the runoff, but timing will be crucial for an effective
Craig Highfield inquires about the status of Forestry Technical Service
Provider (TSP) issues. Tom Morgart notes there are currently 3 TSPs certified to
write Forest Stewardship Plans.
Bill Angstadt shared the following issues and concerns:
Revision of the 590 Nutrient Management Standard
The Serra 17 is currently circulating the 1st formal draft review
By spring 2011 the new national standard will be published, at which
time each state will be allowed to narrow down the standard for their
Committee wants assurance that NRCS, Maryland Department of
Agriculture (MDA), and the University of Maryland coordinate to
synchronize the new standard
Tech note adaptive nitrogen management concern. What will happen if
adaptive nitrogen recommendations results in more nitrogen being applied
than allowed by law.
590 Tiers in Maryland
Would like NRCS to develop a deliverable for farmers to demonstrate
performance, that they effectively implemented the practices in their
Tim Pilkowski notes that receipts are required to prove the
technical aspects were completed, and NRCS currently reviews 5% of
the NM plan.
Jon Hall NRCS work with MDA to expand their evaluation system,
which currently spot checks their contracts.
Alternate manure use for phosphorus (P)
The committee proposes outreach for the practice increases for
University of Maryland-Extension, MDA, and the Delmarva Poultry
Industry should all work with NRCS on outreach
Bay Conservation Effects Assessment Project
Committee views the results as favorable towards agricultural and
Assessment targets ‘critically untreated acres’ – areas that are
most likely to show improvement
Nothing to report.
Anne Lynne reported that MD NRCS is revising its hedgerow standard and a
draft is currently out for review.
Tom Morgart announced he has been hired as the Assistant State
Conservationist for Programs in Maryland. He shared the following items:
FY2010 Programs Summary: the update provided in July stands. Reminder
that sign-up is continuous; NRCS has not received its FY2011 allocation but
will ranks applications monthly when program guidance is received.
High Tunnel pilot launched in 2010 will continue in 2011.
2010 saw 100 applications, NRCS was able to fund about 60
Pilot aligns with USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
o New BMP Challenge for 2011- encourages farmers who are
apprehensive about new technology to adopt.
Sign-up available until January 7, 2011
Fact sheets are available
WHIP- no changes from the 2010 program are expected
GRP- Tiffany Davis reported that the market analysis for geographic area
rate caps (GARC) determined there wasn’t enough data to establish GARCs; the
program will continue to use individual appraisals.
Farmers must now file the CCC 927 or 928 to determine AGI
Recent update from FSA shows many landowners have not yet filed-
this will eventually lead to stopped payments if not filed.
May be landowner or tenant who files, name must match that on
A DUNS number is now required for entities who enter into
contracts for over $25,000
Warning that it is not an instantaneous process. May take weeks
after application to receive DUNS
Priority areas for CBWI remain the same as 2010, aligned with
SPARROW and COAST models.
Soil Runoff Potential- vulnerable soils and leaching maps have been
Areas around Baltimore, Prince George, and Caroline Counties are
less detailed due to unavailability, still accurate, just aggregated
at a higher level
CEAP results show diminished returns, encourage a focus on areas of
Should ranking take into account how much conservation has already
been applied to the landscape? Use the rule of diminishing returns.
No objections raised by committee
Should we change ranking to encourage planting those cover crops
that remove the most Nitrogen.
Committee gives mixed feedback. This may work against MDA’s
Oyster Habitat Restoration Launch
Brings in new audience to NRCS, will help MD economy in the long run
Possibly run through WHIP.
Payment limits TBD.
Ben Alder suggests tying the practice to salt marsh restoration in
Steve Strano says this won’t work, the program’s eligibility
requirements are different
Caution must be taken when determining the length of the practice
and how small farms will fit in.
Most NRCS management practices are available 3 times; Tom Morgart
suggests Oyster bed restoration is only available once per acre.
This practice may count towards nutrient trading for TMDLs.
Jon Hall distributed the News Release.
Conservation Activity Plans (CAPS)
Energy- not popular because the State option is better
New Drainage Plan- to help people on the Eastern Shore determine
where drainage systems are needed and how to manage them.
Al Rizzo suggests the CAP should be given a different name
Steve Strano notes that the plan will require NRCS to develop
new engineering plans
WRP- Steve Strano gave an overview of the current program.
2010 was a record year for enrolled acreage, likely due to the high
For 2011, NRCS is evaluating the cost/benefit of 30-year easements
Federal regulations allow for payment to be 50% to 75% of
permanent easement. MD NRCS currently pays 75%, may change to 50% to
give greater value to permanent easements
Committee suggests working with DNR and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
to align programs before making any changes.
Committee also suggests making an exception on the 10-acre minimum
requirement for Historically Underserved participants.
Dan Rider comments that landowners are not able to enroll in both
DNR’s Forest Stewardship Program and WRP. When landowners sign up for
WRP and lose their Forest Stewardship plan, they also lose the
preferential tax benefits associated with the plan.
Nelson Brice has two concerns about the program:
Invasive species control – Phragmites is an issue. How do we
deal with it?
Wildlife food plots – Concern re: abuse of this allowance. Must
be very clear about the rules and where they will be conducted.
Tiffany Davis reports that the 2011 market analysis shows prices
have dropped across the state. New GARCs will reflect this.
People who signed up for WRP in 2010 but funded in 2011 will use
Proposed GARC values must be approved by NHQ before we can
advertise the new GARCs.
Amanda Moore announced that National Criteria for soils mapping is being
implemented. The biggest effect is showing in parts of Southern and Eastern MD,
where T-factors are dropping. If farmers have a decreased T factor, they may
need to implement additional conservation practices to negate soil loss.
The rule is still in draft form- grandfathering is possible
TMDLs will be tougher as a result
NRCS is currently working on responses to the affect this change
will have on programs.
Aimee Weldon from the Potomac Conservancy announces the “Conserving
Habitat through the FEDERAL Farm Bill: A Guide for Land Trusts and
Landowners,” is now available.
Lorette Picciano from the Rural Coalition distributed “High Tunnels for
Socially Disadvantaged Producers: A Farm Bill Success Story” to the
State Conservationist Jon Hall distributed a handout containing a link
to the CEAP report and the website for comments.
An announcement was made that a new position has been created at the
Anne Arundel Extension for an Aquaculturist.