Fertilizer: Bay Research Projects

Learn more about research projects focused on safely applying fertilizer, manure, biosolids and other land-applied materials to protect water quality and soil health.

Title Lead Researcher Description
Optimization of starter N fertilizer applications for corn planted into a cereal rye cover crop

Kate Tully

Inclusion of cover crops in conservation tillage crop production systems in the northeast has centered on erosion control and nutrient management. Interest has grown in managing cover crops for a wide variety of agroecosystem benefits, which asks farmers to terminate cover crops later in the season, posing a challenge to farmers who are trying to split their nitrogen application. The goal of this study is to examine early-season nitrogen management in field corn production as well as the overall fertilizer rate needed across a gradient of cover crops to improve the efficiency of the system.
Evaluating Subaqueous Soil-Landscape Models (SSLM) for Soil Mapping and Interpretations in Chesapeake Bay  (MAES) Martin C. Rabenhorst and PhD student Barret Wessel Over the last 2 decades, the (subaqueous) soil-landscape paradigm (SSLP) has informed subaqueous mapping efforts in areas adjacent to US Barrier Island coastal systems, which has proven successful in providing soils information critical for optimal use and management of those coastal resources. We recognize, however, that there are significant differences between the geomorphology and processes in barrier systems and those in the flooded estuaries of Chesapeake Bay. The fundamental question being addressed is whether this SSLP approach can be successfully applied to create useful subaqueous soil inventories within subestuaries of Chesapeake Bay. We propose to do this by applying the soil-landscape model developed in the Rhode River estuary in 2015-16 to create a soil map of the nearby West River estuary using only the bathymetric data to derive a map of subaqueous soil landforms (to which the model is applied). After the draft map has been created in this way, the effectiveness of the model will then be quantitatively evaluated and tested by making soil observations at preselected points along specified transects and observing and documenting how closely the soils found at the transect points correspond to those predicted to be there in the draft soil map.
Optimizing Nutrient Use and Reducing Losses in Crop Production Systems in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Gurpal Toor Nutrients losses from agriculture are the main sources of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Chesapeake Bay. Our over-arching goal in this project is to optimize nutrient use in crop production systems (corn, soybean) and devise strategies to reduce losses of N and P to receiving waters.
Refining, Retooling, and Implementing the Next Generation of Phosphorus Management Tool to Balance Crop Production and Water Quality Goals in Maryland. Gurpal Toor, Trish Steinhilber  The overarching premise of this project is that development of an improved phosphorus risk assessment tool would allow farmers to better utilize resources (i.e. fertilizers, manures, biosolids, other organics) on their farms to sustain agricultural productivity and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.
Innovative Manure Management Strategies to Promote Phosphorus Balance and Sustain Agriculture on the Delmarva Peninsula Gurpal Toor (UMD), with University of Delaware and Virginia Tech This project integrates research, extension, and educational activities to address phosphorus (P) imbalance on the Delmarva Peninsula. Our overarching premise is that better distribution and utilization of poultry litter on low P soils in the Delmarva can help improve grain yields, help achieve P balance in the region, and reduce farmer and stakeholder concerns about water quality impairment due to excessive P loss from P saturated soils.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Soil Health Practices in Enhancing Soil Organic Carbon in Maryland Gurpal Toor, with Keith Paustian from Colorado State University The overall goal of this project is to acquire the data and develop the tools necessary to quantify soil carbon sequestration and improve soil health for the agricultural soils of the State. Developing this local capacity will aid in the implementation of the Maryland Heathy Soils Program, help farmers interested in participating in related Federal programs (e.g., in the new Farm Bill) and/or industry initiatives, and provide information and support to farmers to improve their soils.
Impact of calcium on phosphorus digestibility in broilers Roselina Angel By understanding calcium in broiler diets we are able to increase phosphorus digestibility. This has allowed us to feed broilers with no added inorganic phosphorus starting at 1.2 kg of body weight (21 days) effectively decreasing excreta P by 50% vs current average commercial use.
Quantifying Cattle Manure- AMR Perceptions and Treatment System variabilities to Develop a Novel Communication Framework for Conveying AMR Science and Mitigation Opportunities Stephanie Lansing, and others This project goal seeks to examine the effects of various thermal based cattle manure treatments on antibiotic degradation, antibiotic resistance genes and antibiotic resistance bacteria.
Monitoring the performance of a fluidized bed poultry litter combustion system. Stephanie Lansing, and others A team led by Dr. Stephanie Lansing has been monitoring energy production from poultry litter in a full-scale fluidized bed combustion system, designed by Biomass Heating Solutions Limited, to conduct a life cycle assessment of the entire process and assess the environmental impact of the technology. The process aims to reduce nutrient runoff, create electricity for the farm, provide direct thermal energy for heating poultry houses to reduce propane use, and create an ash by-product to be used as a soil amendment.
Phosphorus Runoff from No-till Soils - Do Cover Crops Make It Better or Worse Ray Weil with undergrad ENST students. We know that early planted cover crops dramatically reduce N leaching over the winter, but when cove crops are killed the phosphorus they contain may be released and lost in runoff, but the reduction in runoff may more than counteract this. The balance is still unknown.
Carbon Gaps, Nitrogen Bulges Ray Weil and MS student Dana Rushovich. We are collaborating with researchers at Penn State University to characterize carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in soil profiles and develop strategies to better manage all three.
Impacts of Cover Crop Management on Erosion and Nutrient Runoff Four ENST seniors mentored by Ray Weil A team of four ENST seniors monitored from, November to April, erosion, runoff volumes, and phosphate and nitrate losses in runoff from plots demonstrating cover crops either interseeded into living soybeans or drilled after soybean harvest in a notill system.
Incentives for lawn management and fertilizer reduction to improve water quality David Newburn, Robert Johnston We are planning to conduct a survey of 10,000 households later this summer in the Baltimore metro region to examine lawn care and fertilizer usage. We will model household responses to incentives to reduce lawn fertilizer and the adoption of stormwater management practices.