Scientific Research

Scientific Research

Since its founding in 1999, the Center has funded more than 70 research projects totaling more than $10 million in funding. The research findings provide decision-makers at the federal, state, and local levels with science-based guidance on important topics such as:

  • The use of the enzyme Phytase in poultry feed to reduce phosphorus levels in manure
  • Ways to improve the federal Conservation Security Program (“green payments”)
  • Protecting Maryland’s investment in land preservation through supportive local zoning and compatible transportation policies
  • The use of downzoning as a tool to preserve farmland
  • An economic assessment of the forestry industry in Maryland
  • Identifying alternative crops and niche markets to help farmers who wish to transition from traditional commodity crop production
  • Designing riparian buffers to maximize environmental benefits
  • Enhancing the economic development of resource-based industries on the Eastern Shore
  • Creating a blueprint for an effective TDR program based on other successful models
  • Identifying the presence and effect of endocrine disrupting compounds in poultry litter

Featured Research

The landward movement of seawater into coastal communities is causing salt damage to land along the eastern seaboard of the United States. For coastal communities like on Maryland's rural Lower Eastern Shore, that can mean invasive marsh species, undrinkable water, damaged forests, reduced agricultural crop yields, and salt-stressed soils. This study performed by University of Maryland scientist Dr. Kate Tully and partially funded by the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology looks into ways we could potentially mitigate this phenomenon called saltwater intrusion brought on by sea-level rise and climate change.

Current Agricultural Research

Thriving Agricultural Systems in Urbanized Landscapes

The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology and the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) are collaborating with multiple universities, partners, farmers, and stakeholders from throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed region in a 5-year sustainable agriculture systems study.

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Chesapeake Foodshed Assessment

The Chesapeake Foodshed Assessment provides an in-depth study of the current state of the sectors that comprise our regional food system including producers, processors, distributors, and consumers. 

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Saltwater Intrusion

This research by Dr. Kate Tully (UMD) aims to determine the extent of saltwater intrusion in lower Eastern Shore communities and its effect on soil health, and the role it plays in washing away nutrients built up in the soil, which ultimately affects Chesapeake Bay water quality.

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Multi-Species Cover Crops

This research through the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts aims to promote the benefits of multi-species cover crops.

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Nutrient Optimization

The project seeks to optimize nitrogen and phosphorus use and reduce the nutrient losses in crop production systems. This will help devise a strategy to reduce nutrient runoff to receiving waters with best management practices that keep the nutrients in the plant root zone.

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Enhancing Soil Organic Carbon

An ultimate goal of this study is to strengthen the science of measuring and tracking soil carbon. This has been a noted need in soil science recently in order to maintain and optimize soil health to sustain farm productivity and protect the environment.

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Current Forestry Research

Forestry Stewardship

The overall goal for the project is to increase forestry stewardship practices on small acreage properties through training to service providers like landscapers and educating of landowners.

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Past Research

Agriculture Policies


Production and Productivity

Alternative Crops

Cover Crops

Niche Markets

Nutrient Reduction



Chesapeake 2000 Land Preservation Commitment


Land Use Tools

Forestry Research and Assessment

Land Use and Growth Management

Nutrient Reductions

Population Change and Impacts on Rural Areas

Water Supply