The EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced $5.5 million in grants for water restoration projects, efforts to reduce pollution from manure, refining best agriculture management practices and improving nutrient trading plans.

The Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development Council received $700,000 from the EPA to continue its work reducing nitrogen and phosphorus in farming and food production, while also promoting farmers who protect water quality as well as grow local food. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University also received $700,000 to focus on how to reduce ammonia emissions in poultry houses.

The Chester River Association received $200,000 to work on implementing the goals outlined in the total maximum daily load, the agency's pollution diet.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will get $600,000 to study the productivity of cover crops, while the Chesapeake Bay Foundation received $500,000 to reduce pollution in the Onancock watershed.

The USDA also gave funds to the Chester River Association and Maryland's Department of Agriculture. The river association got $300,000 for pollution reduction work; the MDA got $264,000 to work on a best-management-practices calculator.

USDA's biggest grant went to the University of Maryland - Eastern Shore for further work on its gypsum curtain to reduce nutrients. (See "Intimidator, Subsurfer latest tools to hammer away at pollution," March 2010.)

Its next largest grant, $600,000, went to the World Resources Institute to further examine nutrient trading.

It also gave $256,000 to Penn State University to study better manure management techniques on small dairy farms, (See "Penn State project's goal is for pollution-free dairy farms to crop up in landscape," September 2010.) and $400,000 to the Manure Energy Research Corp., which is focusing on converting poultry litter into biofuels.