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Money still available for Delaware farmers to participate in runoff project

Delaware Public Media

There’s still money left unclaimed by First State farmers who would be part of a project to decrease agricultural runoff in Delaware watersheds.

The Delmarva Whole System Conservation Partnership is a coalition of non-government organizations led by the Nature Conservancy and the Delaware Maryland Agribusiness Association.

Four years ago the group received a $5 million USDA grant to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

About $86,000 was set aside for Delaware farmers who want to do more to make sure they are not adding excess nutrients to the soil, but with the deadline to apply only a month away $58,000 remains for farmers in the Choptank, Nanticoke and Pocomoke watersheds. 

“If we don’t get enough farmers or applicants for this program, because it is a program between two states, Delaware and Maryland, probably the funds will go back to Maryland and then Maryland will use those for their farmers. So our farmers will lose out if they don’t take advantage of this opportunity,” said Tim Garrahan, Delaware’s Assistant State Conservationist for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service

The program seeks to equip farmers with GPS to use in conjunction with yield maps to target areas of their fields that need the most nutrients - rather than distributing an average amount across the entire field. This is meant to reduce runoff in the watershed.

Garrahan says this goes beyond the nutrient management plan required by the state.

“What we’re looking at is them doing advanced nutrient management, where they’re using GPS to apply their fertilizers, to apply their lime, to do variable seeding,” he said. “So it’s more fine-tuned than typically farmers do.”

Delaware farmers can apply for the program before the April 19th deadline at their local USDA Service Center.

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