looking hard at possible links between agricultural practices and problems in
the marine environment of the Chesapeake Bay. Click the image for more
information about it.
Chesapeake Bay Day: Coordinating Research to
Improve Farm Practices, Bay Health By
Don Comis October
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5U.S.
Department of Agriculture officials signed an agreement in Maryland today
to enhance research coordination to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay,
the largest estuary in the United States.
USDA officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Chesapeake Bay Program Office and
the Mid-Atlantic Regional
Water Quality Program, which includes Bay-area state universities.
The signing was held at the
A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center, operated by the
Agricultural Research Service, USDA's
chief in-house scientific research agency.
"The purpose of this agreement is to strengthen cooperation in a
collaborative effort to fulfill the commitments of the Chesapeake 2000
agreement of the Chesapeake Bay Program, especially the 'Keystone
Commitments,'" said Merle Pierson, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research,
Education and Economics.
At the University
of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Horn Point Laboratory, ARS
McConnell (right) and
Harman-Fetcho work with university scientists to monitor Chesapeake Bay
water quality and oyster health at the Horn Point oyster hatchery. Click
the image for more information about it.
At the eventdesigned to show research solutions that can reduce
bay pollution from farmsMaryland
Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley spoke about the role of farmers in the
One of the many displays on exhibit described another boost to bay
research: selection of the Choptank River watershed as one of 12 ARS research
watersheds chosen nationally for the new USDA Conservation Effects Assessment
"Both the EPA agreement and the CEAP project reflect an intensifying
collaborative effort to build on the bay research that BARC and the
universities have engaged in for about two decades now, working with EPA and
the U.S. Geological Survey," said ARS
Beltsville Area Director
Johnson announced plans that include research to process manure into
fuel and safer fertilizers. Other plans announced included growing perennial
grasses for fuels. These grasses are considered bay-friendly because they do
not require annual planting, which can cause soil to erode into the bay. They
also require less fertilizer, reducing the potential for nutrient pollution.
"We would also like to partner with other organizations to start a
genetics program for aquatic vegetation to help meet the goal of having 185,000
acres of submerged aquatic vegetation in the Chesapeake," Johnson said. "We are
discussing this with the University of Maryland at
College Park and the
Eastern Shore, as well as the
University of Maryland Center for
Environmental Science at Horn Point."
Tours and exhibits at BARC displayed the bay-related work of many of
the center's 320 ARS researchers.