The Fertilizer Report: Concerns about the Chesapeake Watershed
University of Phoenix
November 17, 2011
Concerns about the Chesapeake Watershed
The combinations of biotic and abiotic factors affect our ecosystems in a great number of ways. By definition, biotic factors are the living components in the environment, such as animals, fungus, plants, bacteria, etc. Therefore, abiotic factors are the non-living components of the environment such as rocks, air, light, water, various temperatures, etc. The factors that never been alive are of these. Take for instance; wool is a biotic factor because it actually comes from animals. Therefore, animals are biotic factors of the ecosystem.
Both factors depend on each other to preserve an ecosystem. In other words an ecosystem cant function properly with both factors existing. For example, an ecosystem without water; eventually all plants will die, then the animals, then humans. We humans can’t live without water. Another example is plants depend on light and temperature for the process known as Photosynthesis.
A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that farmers aren't doing nearly enough to prevent pollution from cropland entering the Chesapeake Bay.
The draft report, "Assessment of the Effects of Conservation Cropland in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed," was put together by the USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project. It was released at a time when farm advocacy organizations from Virginia to New York have said their members are doing enough to control pollution from fertilizers, and resisting efforts that could force more, and faster, action.
"The report is so significant because it comes from USDA," said Gerald Winegrad, a former Maryland state senator and chairman of the 58 Senior Bay Scientists and Policy Makers for the Bay. "It's the acknowledgement of what people have known all along, that one, agriculture is the biggest source of pollution, and two, that agriculture is far from doing all that it can."
The report found that eight out of every 10 acres of cultivated farmland still needs better nutrient management. On two out of three of the acres, excessive levels of nitrogen are lost in subsurface pathways. On slightly more than one in four acres, not enough is being done to control erosion from sediment.
While cropland covers only 10 percent of the Bay watershed, the report says, they deliver 25 percent of the sediment, 27 percent of the phosphorus and 32 percent of the nitrogen to the Chesapeake Bay.
Patricia Langenfelder, president of the Maryland Farm Bureau, cautioned that the report was only a draft, and that looking at the watershed as a whole might not take into account the strides that Maryland farmers have made in reducing pollution. The popularity of cost-share programs, such as cover crops, suggests that farmers are doing their part, she said, but progress isn't going to be immediate.
"We're following the recommended practices," said Langenfelder, whose family farms 3,000 acres in Kent County, on the northern part of Maryland's Eastern Shore. "Obviously, at some point, this is going to make improvements. It's just not going to be instantly."
Beth McGee, senior scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, agreed that some progress had been made. But, she added, "we haven't made enough, and I think that is because we haven't had accountability and consequences like we have now," referring to the strict guidelines of the total maximum daily load, or TMDL - better known as the Chesapeake Bay's pollution diet.
McGee said she was impressed with the methodology the study used - a simulation model that differs from the Bay Program's model, but offers many of the same conclusions, such as pointing to agriculture as the largest source of nutrients reaching the Bay. While many farm organizations have criticized the EPA's Bay model...