Manure is land applied as an organic fertilizer to thousands of acres of cropland in the Chesapeake Bay region. Given the large land area, manure nutrients washed off of farmland when it rains are a major contributor to local and regional water quality impairments. Manure contains nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients critical to crop production but that can also fuel algal growth in surface waters. Fish, crabs, oysters and other aquatic life can't thrive in water that has too much algae. In addition to ecosystem impacts, excess nutrients and bacteria from animal manure can negatively impact drinking water quality for millions of people living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Fortunately, there are many management practices and technologies that can help farmers keep manure nutrients in the soil where they are needed by growing plants and out of streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Applying manure and other fertilizers according to the 4R principals (right source, right rate, right time, and right placement) are at the core of environmentally and agronomically production systems. All of Sustainable Chesapeake's manure management projects are aimed at helping farmers manage manure according to the 4R principals.