MDA Resubmits Phosphorus Management Tool with Revisions

MDA LogoANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that proposed changes to the Maryland Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) were submitted today to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR) of the Maryland General Assembly. MDA petitioned the committee to request emergency status for the regulations to ensure they will be in place for the fall planting season.

The PMT was originally published in the Maryland Register on January 25, 2013. The final publication of the PMT includes substantive changes that require re-promulgation. Those changes are referenced in two documents:

  • University of Maryland (UM) Extension Bulletin “UM Phosphorus Management Tool: Technical Users Guide” – removing one of four buffer categories (deletion of the greater than 50-foot riparian zone), and
  • COMAR – changes in language to make COMAR more consistent with the University of Extension Bulletin.

Nutrient management plans developed or updated after the effective date will be required to use the new PMT. Training for nutrient management consultants on the new PMT began on July 9, 2013.

If the Committee grants its approval, the PMT will go into effect immediately for six months. To become a permanent regulation, the regulation must be promulgated following the State required administrative procedures, which includes publication in the Maryland Register and a 30-day public comment period.

The Phosphorus Site Index was replaced with the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) to reflect new research. This environmental risk assessment tool is used to identify areas where excess phosphorus is present in the soil and a high potential for phosphorus loss exists. It allows users to evaluate management options that can reduce the risk of phosphorus losses from agricultural fields to nearby waterways. Revising and updating the tool is an element of Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), the federally mandated document that outlines specific steps the state will take to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. The PMT is included in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual and incorporated by reference into COMAR 15.20.08.

The proposal as submitted to AELR, along with the Extension Bulletin to be included in the Maryland Nutrient Management Manual are available on MDA’s website here.

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