Mapping CAFO Soil Phosphorus on the Eastern Shore

Working with Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) and Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), our team completed the mapping of soil phosphorus test results for over 1,000 fields belonging to 60 confined animal feeding operations on Maryland’s eastern shore. Data were obtained from public comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMP) resulting from a public information act request made by CPR and then geo referenced by hand using the CNMP paper maps. To help farmers make decisions about manure application, the CNMPs include “fertility index values” (FIVs).

This index aids farmers in determining whether adding additional phosphorus will help crops grow. Maryland interprets FIV scores in four categories: low is 0-25; medium is 26-50; optimum is 51-100; and excessive is 100 and higher. Low and medium FIVs tell farmers that crops would grow better if additional phosphorus is applied. Optimum FIV levels, tell the farmer that existing soil phosphorus is sufficient for plant growth. Excessive FIVs tell farmers that there is already more than enough phosphorus in the soil to meet the needs of most crops and that it is unlikely that crops will respond positively.

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