In June, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s administration imposed new regulations on poultry manure meant to reduce a major source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
The phosphorus management rules mean that as much as two thirds of all chicken litter once used as fertilizer on Eastern Shore farm fields will be homeless. Farmers will no longer be able to spread the waste in fields, just to get rid of it.
That creates mountains of headaches for farmers like Michelle Chesnick, who grows a half million chickens a year, which produce about two million tons of manure.
“ You have to ask yourself? Where does it all go?” Chesnick asked. “What do we do with it now? I don’t know where it is going to go.”
In an attempt to answer this question, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has been giving away millions of dollars in grants to experimental projects that will recycle the manure into a range of innovative and useful products.