The Maryland Department of Agriculture announced in September that it will offer money to help farmers who hire a private consultants to update their state-mandated nutrient management plans.

Farmers who attended a statewide summit in Wye Mills had told state officials that they need help keeping their nutrient plans up to date, Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley said in a released statement.

The payments are designed to encourage farmers to follow nutrient management rules, which aim to limit the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that runs into the Chesapeake Bay.

Excessive nutrients, also found in detergents, cause algae blooms, which can steal oxygen from the water, keep light from reaching underwater plants and kill fish.

Rates for keeping the plans up-to-date range from $2 to $5 per acre; rates for vegetable and in-ground nursery operations are $12 to $18 per acre, the agriculture department said.

The cost-share plan now available will offer up to $3,000 per farm, depending on its size and how complex it is.

State law requires farmers to update their plans at least once every three years, or more frequently when a farm’s operations change significantly.

For information, farmers should contact their local soil conservation district or the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program.