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MD Farmers Take Steps to Reduce Runoff

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Cover crops such as wheat can soak up extra fertilizer before it runs off into waterways and into the Chesapeake Bay.
Cover crops such as wheat can soak up extra fertilizer before it runs off into waterways and into the Chesapeake Bay.

By Sabri Ben-Achour

Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley says farmers in his state are taking steps to reduce runoff from their fields.

Almost 1700 farmers in Maryland are going to plant a half million acres of Cover Crops this fall.

Cover crops in this case are things such as rye, barley, or wheat.

They're planted after a farmer's regular crops are done, and they act like a sponge to soak up extra fertilizer not used by those crops.

Without them, nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorous can leak from the soil into the waterways and then the Chesapeake Bay, where they cause algae blooms and low dissolved oxygen like the ones that caused 30 odd fish kills last year.

Maryland's Department of Agriculture is going to try out a remote-sensing program to figure out how efficient the cover crops are at absorbing nutrient.


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