Cover crops, satellites and regulation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Steve Groff is a noted cover crop proponent from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who farms in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed that also includes parts of New York, Virginia, West Virginia and most of Maryland. What happens in his watershed matters to Ohio’s farmers, whether they know it or not.“Cover crops are a part of the strategy to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Bay. In southeastern Pennsylvania in 2005, cover crops were used on 5% of farm acres in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Groff said. “Now there are cover crops on 18% of Chesapeake Bay region and 75% of fields in Lancaster County, Penn. are planted to cover crops.”Groff has spent many years refining his use of cover crops to maximize their benefits and profitability on his farm. In more recent years, regulations in the watershed have encouraged his neighbors to follow his example.“We do have a pollutant problem and these water quality problems are things the public can see. This shapes the public perception of agriculture. They sometimes go over the top to make things scary sounding — that is what the media does — but you have to admit there is a kernel of truth there. If we do not do something about this, we are going to be regulated out the wazoo,” he said. “Now they are using satellite imagery to monitor cover crop usage in Chesapeake Bay that is being used as a pilot program to test ground truth. They are doing this in Maryland to see if guys are really planting cover crops.”With continuing discussion about making the requirements for the Chesapeake Bay a national template, every farmer in the country needs to be carefully watching as the regulatory environment continues to evolve in the watershed.“Should we use the carrot or stick to get more cover crops? In this watershed you cannot spread manure over winter unless you have at least 25% ground cover so livestock producers have to plant cover crops,” Groff said. “We are 15 years down the road with these regulations and now there is a lot of voluntary adoption with this. We don’t want more regulations but they are probably coming. You may as well start tinkering around with this stuff now because you will probably have to be doing it some day anyway.”Josh McGrath, associate professor and soil and fertility and nutrient management specialist at the University of Maryland, said the Chesapeake Bay nutrient management strategies are far from ideal in some cases because they too often favor the politics over the reality of the situation.“Maryland is probably the most highly regulated state in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is probably the most highly regulated watershed for agriculture in the country,” McGrath said. “The Maryland Water Quality Improvement Act was passed in 1998 and the first thing that it did was mandate that farmers could not exceed the fertility recommendations of University of Maryland Extension. That was not something that we supported in Extension. All farmers in Maryland now have to have nutrient management plans that cover N and P.”The emphasis on mandates is a real concern for McGrath and others, because, while these mandated practices may be the right fit for some agricultural situations, they may be the wrong fit for others. The net result is that mandates can actually hurt water quality improvement efforts.“What we have done is turn the clock back in some situations. Agriculture has been progressively moving forward with technology that allows us to be more site specific,” McGrath said. “Some of the regulations, like mandating the incorporation of manure, may be fine on the coastal plain where it is flat, but in western Maryland with steep slopes and highly erodible soil, no–till was dominant. We’ve just turned back the clock to the 1970s by having these incorporation regulations across the board. Blanket regulations are moving us backwards with regard to site specificity.”In his paper from early 2015,“Implementation of agricultural phosphorus management policy in Maryland” Frank J. Coale, a professor at the University of Maryland, outlined the evolution of the growing regulatory environment faced by farmers in Maryland.“Beginning in the late 1980s, the State of Maryland adopted various policies and developed voluntary agricultural nutrient management programs aimed at reducing P loading of surface waters. In swift response to a popularized Chesapeake Bay fish kill during the summer of 1997…the State of Maryland passed the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998, which phased in mandatory N and P-based nutrient management planning regulations for Maryland farmers. The P management provisions of these aggressive regulations were fully implemented by 2005,” Coale said in the paper. “In an effort to further alleviate water quality impairments and accelerate reductions of P inputs to the Chesapeake Bay from agricultural sources, President Obama issued Executive Order 13508 in May 2009 that declared the Chesapeake Bay a ‘national treasure’ and ushered in a new era of federal oversight and accountability. In 2010, under the existing provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1992, the U.S. EPA developed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits for P entering the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL prescribed the amount of P input that can be tolerated by the Bay ecosystem and not result in impaired water quality. A 2025 deadline was established by which time each of the Chesapeake Bay watershed states will be legally obligated to achieve the TMDL P load reductions necessary to alleviate water quality impairments. By 2025, total P loading to the Chesapeake Bay must be less than 14.5 million pounds P per year and P loading from Maryland’s tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay must be no greater than 2.8 million pounds P per year. The TMDL implementation plan allows for half of Maryland’s total load, or 1.4 million pounds P per year, to originate from agricultural sources. In order to achieve the 2025 TMDL mandate, overall P loading from Maryland tributaries will need to be reduced by 15% and P loading from agricultural sources will need to be reduced by 12%, relative to today’s estimated loading rates.”As this model for addressing water quality inches closer to being implemented nationwide, the American Farm Bureau Federation and many others filed friend-of-the-court briefs last month urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments on the EPA’s plans for the Chesapeake Bay water quality “blueprint.”Filers included 92 members of Congress, 22 states, forestry groups represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, and a broad cross-section of the U.S. economy represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business.“The fact that so many voices are being raised in support of Supreme Court review shows the broad and severe threat that EPA’s action here poses nationwide,” said Bob Stallman, AFBF president. “EPA has asserted powers that do not appear in any law written by Congress, and it has done so in the context of an iconic national treasure, hoping that will inoculate its power grab in the courts. We have faith that the nation’s highest court will see this for what it is and hold EPA accountable to stay within its statutory authority.”Despite aggressive new commitments and water quality achievements by the six states in the Bay watershed in the mid-2000s, the EPA asserted federal control over the Chesapeake Bay recovery in its 2010 “blueprint.” The new federal plan effectively gives EPA the ability to function as a super-zoning authority over local and state governments — dictating where homes can be built, where land can be farmed, and where commercial development can occur, AFBF said.If carried out, the plan could impose tens of billions of dollars in direct costs — with unknown economic impacts on local communities and economies. AFBF contends that it also denies state and local governments and businesses the flexibility to adapt to new circumstances, instead locking in limits that can quickly become outdated but can only be revised by EPA.To date, lower courts upheld EPA’s blueprint on the theory that it furthers the water quality goals of the Clean Water Act — despite the absence of words in the statute authorizing such federal action. A significant issue presented for the Supreme Court is the degree to which courts should defer to broad agency interpretations of their statutory power.“The broad support for the Farm Bureau petition shows that deep concerns about the Bay blueprint go far beyond agriculture and far beyond the Bay region,” said Ellen Steen, AFBF General Counsel. “Members of Congress, states and business groups recognize that this illegal framework will be imposed throughout the country unless the Court intervenes. Given the enormous social and economic consequences, not to mention the grave questions about federalism and deference to agency overreaching, this is a case that cries out for Supreme Court review.”Maybe it is time to schedule a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is the second in a series of stories taking a look at the some of the nation’s water quality issues.last_img read more

How the GBA Site Displays Readers’ Names

first_imgIn early February 2017, the GBA web site developed a new glitch: our site stopped displaying reader’s names properly when they posted questions or comments on the site.Instead of displaying “Elizabeth Stanton” or “Pablo Picasso,” the GBA web site started identifying new GBA readers as “N/A N/A” or “User-43289.” More recently, the site has begun registering new users with aliases like “YellowFrog” or “RedSoxFan.”For the past eight years, GBA has a proud tradition of encouraging readers to use their real names. My name is really Martin Holladay, and commenters like John Straube, William Rose, and Kohta Ueno also use their real names. (Thanks, by the way, to all our faithful readers.)The current situation is awkward. It’s hard to know how to address answers to questions from people named N/A N/A. I like to use names. It’s also a good idea to have a way to tell readers apart. Thanks to all our faithful readersI don’t like navigating computer menus, but these steps aren’t too hard. I hope our readers will consider this request. It will improve the level of communication on our site. Thanks. How to change your screen nameI’m hereby encouraging GBA readers with goofy screen names to update their profiles so that their real names appear on screen. You will be performing a service that benefits our community. Just follow these steps.(1) Log in to the site. You can tell if you have logged in by looking for the phrase “Welcome, [name]” in the upper right corner of every GBA web page.(2) Click on your screen name in the phrase at the upper right corner of the screen (“Welcome, [name]”). This should bring you to a page called “My Account.” (If you don’t see any name after the word “Welcome” in the upper right corner of a GBA web page, you might want to try an alternative approach: Click on the screen name that shows up under one of your posted comments. The format for this type of screen name is usually something like “User-6543210.” This should bring you to your “My Account” page.)(3) Scroll down the page until you see these words in a yellowish green font: “Update Profile.” Click those words.(4) You’ll come to a new page that asks you to sign in again. Just click the box labeled “Log In.”(5) You’ll come to a new page. This time, the words you are looking for are in blue font. Click “Update Profile.”(6) You’ve reached the “Update Profile” page. Change whatever appears in the box labeled “Screenname.” We hope that you will change whatever is there to your real name. (Spaces are allowed, but there is a 20-character limit. So if your name is Alexander Stephanopoulos, you will have to shorten your name to Alex Stephanopoulos.) Then click “Submit.”last_img read more

Still Battling “Reply Girls,” YouTube Tweaks Algorithms To Reflect Watch Time

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting fruzsina eordogh Tags:#web#YouTube 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… The YouTube community is still feeling the aftershocks of last Spring’s “Reply Girls” controversy, as the video giant revamps its internal search rankings to reward not just the initial click but how long a video is watched.The Reply Girls ControversyAnnounced in an official blog post last week, this tweak is part of YouTube’s “ongoing efforts to focus our video discovery features on watch time,” which sounds innocent enough. The blog post goes on to mention that the update is part of site changes that began in March. For those in the know, March was when “Tittiepocalypse,” aka the Reply Girls controversy, blew up.   Throughout half of 2011 and early 2012, YouTube’s Related Videos section was overrun with videos of push-up-bra-wearing women baring their cleavage for YouTube profit. These women weren’t just using their breasts for click-candy to drive traffic, they were also employing various SEO tactics, including tag manipulation.Manipulating Related VideosThe video-sharing community grew frustrated by the Reply Girls and their new way of doing the YouTube business (not to mention the lack of actual “related” content in Related Videos), and protested online so ferociously in February that YouTube decided to change not just how Related Videos are selected, but also what consitutes a “view” of a video.The Reply Girls, who got their name from how each of their videos was framed as a “reply” to the latest trending video, exploited YouTube’s system of awarding ad revenue based on initial clicks. At the height of their power, some Reply Girls were making upwards of $10,000 a month from YouTube, purely from what the company would later categorize as “spam.” Much Has ChangedThe Reply Girls controversy is responsible for YouTube’s overhaul of its tags system, how a view is calculated, how Related Videos work and now how YouTube ranks videos in search.     The blog post announcing the change doesn’t officially refer to the breast-filled controversy by name, instead links to a previous blog post that writes “(Cleavage thumbnails, anyone?).”YouTube has never actually issued a public statement on the Reply Girls; it’s rather embarassing for the company that young women were allowed to exploit YouTube’s algorithms for eight months – without hacking – for maximum profit. (It is also against YouTube policy to comment on individual partners.)   YouTubers Still Not HappyLike previous site changes, many YouTubers weren’t particularily thrilled with the news, nor could they understand how this change affects creators of shorter, less-than-five-minute videos (the company’s post – hardly more than a paragraph – held few details).Others thought revamping the algorithm was unnecessary. Sochii Kamiya and Andelia Rehauste wrote in a comment on Monday, “[I]nstead of doing stupid updates, how about actually SOLVING glitches like the subscribers issue since [M]arch?”  last_img read more

ICC World Cup 2011 countdown begins

first_imgSouth African cricket players, Morne Morkel, left, and Dale Steyn pose with the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy in the Dubai Aquarium & Under Water Zoo to mark the 100-day countdown to the opening ceremony for the Cricket World Cup 2011, Dubai, UAE, Tuesday November 09, 2010.The 100-day countdown for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup began in Dubai on Tuesday. The trophy for the tenth edition of cricket World Cup was displayed by South African players Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn at the Dubai Aquarium. The South African and Pakistani teams after concluded their five-ODI series in Dubai on Monday joined fast bowlers Morkel and Steyn as the duo unveiled the trophy. The trophy for World Cup 2011 was launched in a rather innovative manner. Steyn and Morkel went underwater to unveil the coveted trophy amidst sharks and other sea creatures at the aquarium. Talking to media at the ceremony, International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat said, “It was spectacular to watch the 100-day countdown ceremony and the ICC and the three host countries are gearing up for the World Cup.” The 43-day tournament will be jointly hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The opening ceremony of the World Cup will be held in Bangladesh capital Dhaka on February 17 and the first will be played two days later. The final match will be held in Mumbai on April 2.last_img read more