The Bay Program is making it easier for agricultural-related businesses and industry to participate in the restoration of the Bay and help protect water quality by developing nutrient management training and certification in the watershed.
Its Model Bay Area Nutrient Management Training and Certification Program provides a standard framework to guide each of the Bay states — Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania — in their efforts to enlist, train, and certify individuals from the private and public sectors to write farm nutrient management plans.
A nutrient management plan is designed to protect water quality by keeping nutrients on farmland and out of surface and ground water while promoting optimum crop production. They are site-specific plans to manage the application of fertilizer, manure, and sludge to farmland.
“By setting consistent guidelines for training and certification, we can attract more private sector help in managing and reducing nutrients on a watershedwide basis,” said Vic Funk, chairman of the Bay Program’s Nonpoint Source Subcommittee. “With this model, we are making it easier for business and industry to work with farmers to restore the Bay.”
The Bay Program’s model training and certification program is the first multi-state effort to standardize nutrient management training and certification. It was developed cooperatively by the Bay states in response to a recommendation in 1991 by the Nonpoint Source Evaluation Panel that private sector involvement in reducing nutrient pollution be expanded.
The model program included the development of a definition and minimum criteria for the state Nutrient Management Programs. The criteria are the basis for consistency among the states in developing their nutrient management plans, handbooks, and guidance documents.
In the future, the Bay states will examine the need to include training and certification for nonagricultural use industries including horticultural, production nursery, and lawn care services.
“The Bay Program’s training and certification model is an important guide because it offers consistency across an entire watershed. It also provides a tremendous opportunity for further followup and training in managing nutrients,” said Russ Perkinson, chairman of the Bay Program’s Nutrient Management Workgroup.