MRC, Ridgely farm win na­tional award

Times-Record - - News -

RIDGELY — Midshore River­keeper Con­ser­vancy Eas­ton and Oak­land View Farms in Ridgely, near the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, re­cently were awarded the na­tional Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment in Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ships by the In­no­va­tion Cen­ter for U.S. Dairy for their col­lab­o­ra­tion fo­cused on clean­ing up lo­cal waters.

The award was given dur­ing the an­nual U.S. Dairy Sus­tain­abil­ity Awards in Chicago, Ill., in June. Ti­mothy Rosen, MRC’s wa­ter­shed sci­en­tist, Matt Pluta, its Chop­tank River­keeper, and Dick and Jan Ed­wards, own­ers of Oak­land View Farms, ac­cepted the prize.

The part­ner­ship be­tween MRC and Oakview Farms be­gan in 2010 and cul­mi­nated in the con­struc­tion of Mary­land’s first den­i­tri­fy­ing biore­ac­tor, which treats water as it passes through drainage tile lines.

“Sus­tain­abil­ity in agri­cul­ture is about part­ner­ing with or­ga­ni­za­tions in our area and con­tribut­ing to bet­ter­ing our com­mu­nity,” Richard Ed­wards said. “We’ve seen a lot of great re­sults, which help us stay in busi­ness longer. We’re ex­cited about the fu­ture of ag and are al­ways look­ing for new tech­nol­ogy that will help us become bet­ter, more sus­tain­able farm­ers down the road.”

Ac­cord­ing to MRC, the part­ner­ship re­flected an­other im­por­tant achieve­ment as it sig­ni­fied a con­tin­u­ing shift in river­keeper-farmer re­la­tions in the Del­marva re­gion.

“Pre­vi­ous to this part­ner­ship, re­la­tions be­tween the en­vi­ron­men­tal and agri­cul­ture com­mu­ni­ties had of­ten been strained,” MRC stated. “Eschew­ing tra­di­tional con­tentious paths such as lit­i­ga­tion or com­bat­ive leg­is­la­tion, the par­ties de­cided to work co­op­er­a­tively.”

The part­ner­ship be­gan with the de­sign and in­stal­la­tion of the biore­ac­tor, and pro­gressed as the par­ties be­gan work­ing to­gether on re­search to quan­tify ni­tro­gen re­moval from biore­ac­tors.

This led to op­por­tu­ni­ties for an ap­proved ni­tro­gen re­moval ef­fi­ciency in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Model, po­ten­tial phos­pho­rus re­moval tech­nolo­gies for slurry (ma­nure waste­water) and a con­ser­va­tion drainage pro­gram. As a re­sult of this suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship, MRC has been able to suc­cess­fully col­lab­o­rate with seven more farm­ers and has de­signed, de­vel­oped and in­stalled nine more projects, in­clud­ing the first biore­ac­tor in Delaware.

Since its in­stal­la­tion in 2013, the ini­tial biore­ac­tor has re­duced ni­trate con­cen­tra­tions of water be­ing treated through the sys­tem by nearly 100 per­cent, which helps pre­vent water qual­ity is­sues like al­gae blooms, MRC said.

“Oak­land View Farms’ part­ner­ship with Midshore River­keeper Con­ser­vancy to re­store and pro­tect the wa­ter­ways of Mary­land’s East­ern Shore serves as a model for oth­ers across the coun­try,” said Chad Frahm, se­nior vice pres­i­dent, In­no­va­tion Cen­ter for U.S. Dairy. “Their use of wood­chip biore­ac­tors to mit­i­gate ni­tro­gen runoff from ma­nure is both prac­ti­cal and ef­fec­tive.”

Each of MRC’s wa­ter­sheds is about 60 per­cent agri­cul­tural.

“It is im­per­a­tive that we work hand in hand with the agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity to bring smart so­lu­tions to non­point source pol­lu­tion,” Rosen said. “MRC is proud of our part­ner­ship with Oak­land View Farms and their will­ing­ness to work with us to solve some of the tough­est pol­lu­tion is­sues in our wa­ter­sheds.”

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

From left are Chop­tank River­keeper Matt Pluta, Jan and Dick Ed­wards from Oak­land View Farms, Wa­ter­shed Sci­en­tist Tim Rosen and Matt Nuck­ols, em­cee for the awards cer­e­mony.

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