Linking Agriculture, Natural Resources, and the Environment

Farming's impact on natural resources and the environment are getting more and more attention these days - nowhere more so than here in Maryland, where the Chesapeake Bay is so important for commercial, recreational, and symbolic purposes. Farmers have traditionally been concerned with protecting the natural resources that provide that basis for continued agricultural productivity. They have installed erosion control measures to guard against loss of topsoil, changed farming practices to maintain soil quality, and adjusted pest management strategies to make the best use of natural enemies, among other measures.

More recently, nutrient management has been a focal point for efforts to enhance the efficiency of fertilizer use and protect water quality at the same time. Maryland has also undertaken significant efforts to protect and expand the positive contributions agriculture makes to environmental quality by providing open space, scenery, and habitat for wildlife.

Extension and research faculty in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics continue to study policies for handling the complex interactions between agriculture, natural resources, and environmental quality. To date, they have concentrated on the following areas:

  • Nutrient and poultry litter management
  • Nutrient trading and water quality
  • The use of best management practices for erosion and runoff control
  • The economics of riparian buffers
  • The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

Visit the Environment and Natural Resources for more information and a list of programs.

In Prince George's County, we offer the following programs:

Aquaculture & Maryland Sea Grant

Maryland Sea Grant College draws on the talent and expertise of the state's universities and academic laboratories to foster innovative marine research, education, and outreach. In this way Maryland Sea Grant serves as a bridge between academic expertise and the needs of those who manage, conserve, enjoy, or make their living from the Chesapeake Bay.

The Maryland Sea Grant Program is developing and carrying out a range of effective research and educational programs in aquaculture. Through the work of its Aquaculture & Coastal Restoration Focus Team, Sea Grant Extension targets prospective producers, business owners, commercial harvesters, resource managers, students, and educators, informing them about issues from oyster gardening to sturgeon stocks, to nutrient remediation using aquatic plants.

As the Maryland Sea Grant Aquaculture Business Specialist, Matt Parker can help you develop your business plan, perform economic feasibility analysis, and help identify potential funding programs for your project.

For more information on the Maryland Sea Grant Program, please contact Matt Parker (mparke11@umd.edu).

For additional information on Aquaculture Workshops around Maryland and Aquaculture Fact Sheets as they are developed, please see the links below.

Bay-Wise Program

Most Maryland residents live within a half-mile of a storm drain, stream or river. Most of these waterways eventually drain into the Chesapeake Bay. What we do to maintain our own landscapes can affect the health of our local waterways (drainage ditches, streams, and rivers), the Chesapeake Bay, and our environment. We all need to do our part to take care of our waterways and environment. By changing a few simple landscape practices, you and your family can help keep Maryland communities healthy.

The Maryland Bay-Wise Program focuses on water quality. It comprises a comprehensive set of environmental topics that affect the quality and quantity of water here in Maryland. Most of these topics relate to landscape management, however, a few, like hydrology, wells & septic systems, hazardous household products and water conservation, address household issues. 

For more information about the Bay-Wise Program Certification in Prince Gorge's County, contact Esther Mitchell (estherm@umd.ed).