Agriculture

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Approximately 45% of the land that drains to the Nanticoke River is in agricultural production! That’s a rural watershed!

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While these lands do a great job at acting like a sponge during rainstorms, sometimes the rainwater washes off soil and fertilizers into nearby ditches and waterways. For years, farmers have been trying several ways to keep their soil and fertilizers on the field where and when it is needed most.

The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance forms partnerships with local farmers to help keep our waterways clean and our farming community profitable!

NWA helps implement BMP projects to reduce the runoff going into local waterways, like vegetative buffers and bioreactors. Several of our board members and partners are soil conservation districts, which help farmers use cover crops and other BMPs. In the past, the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance has worked with the Dorchester County Soil Conservation District to implement a flexible buffers program.

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Bioreactors:

Joe Layton, NWA board member and farmer, grows poultry feed on a 120-acre property in Dorchester County near Route 50. NWA is partnering with additional organizations like Ridge to Reefs to install a bioreactor on that farm to remove excess nutrients that would normally run off into the local waterways; in this case, the Transquaking River.

The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance’s Creekwatchers program has been monitoring the Transquaking for over ten years.  While slight improvements have been seen, this waterway still only received a D+ grade overall when looking at Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Dissolved Oxygen.

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Vegetative Buffers:

Buffers are strips of vegetation along drainage ditches that help to capture nutrients before they “run-off” into the ditches after a rainfall. Without any buffer system, agricultural ditches are capable of transporting high amounts of excess nutrients into local creeks and rivers that lead into the Chesapeake Bay. Ditches are on lands with prime agricultural soils, making them unattractive choices for planting wide buffer strips that would consume large amounts of productive cropland.

“Flexible” agricultural buffers mean that the width of the buffer strip can be adjusted but does not meet Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) standards.