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NIFA Projects Help Clean Up Chesapeake Bay

NIFA has funded numerous projects to clean up, protect and enhance the Chesapeake Bay. These projects are studying the sources of pollution, how farm management practices affect they bay, whether economic incentives would decrease nutrient run-off into the watershed, the role forests play in the watershed, and the development of tools and strategies to improve nutrient management in the bay. The chart below indicates FY 2008 funding levels for Chesapeake Bay projects.



Number of Projects

FY 2008 Funding




New York









West Virginia













Examples of funded projects include:

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Water project, led by the University of Maryland, has completed a new Nutrient Management Handbook for the Chesapeake Bay region that focuses on tools, technologies, and management strategies to improve nutrient management in agriculture. The online handbook is a collaborative project of land-grant universities in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Studies at Virginia Tech and Marshall University are exploring detection, fate, and transport of fecal bacteria in watersheds within the Chesapeake Bay region. Application of livestock manure is considered a major source of fecal bacteria in the Chesapeake Bay, and these projects are determining strategies to minimize water quality risks associated with these contaminants.

Innovative approaches to limit nutrient pollution are being explored through nutrient credit trading and performance-based policies for nonpoint pollution control. These approaches led by Penn State University, Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland, and the University of Vermont are addressing both the economic and the biophysical aspects of nutrient management. These studies explore how economic choices and farm policies can affect water quality and nutrient management.

Work at the University of Maryland – Eastern Shore, an 1890 institution, is focusing on best practices to incorporate poultry litter into agricultural soils, thereby gaining the nutrient value of the animal waste without offsite losses that impair water quality. The project also is exploring the movement of heavy metals from poultry litter – a major water quality concern in areas where litter is used as a soil fertilizer source.

The University of West Virginia is looking at economic incentives needed to help farmers reduce agricultural runoff impacting water quality. This project focuses on incentives to cost-share programs that promote improved water quality. Management practices are evaluated both in terms of water quality improvement and economic benefit to farmers.

Researchers at Cornell University are investigating sources and potential sinks for sediment and nutrients entering the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This research evaluates the timing and amount of nutrients entering the Chesapeake Bay from atmospheric deposition, agricultural sources, and other sources. The project considers the impact of land use on the movement of water, sediment, and nutrients entering the Bay. Part of the project also will explore how created wetlands can alter the delivery of sediment and nutrients from different sources to the Bay.

Scientists at Virginia Tech are exploring how energy and phosphorus can be recovered from dairy manure. This work could lead to alternative energy sources for farmers through biogas generation while also collecting nutrients that could impair water quality.

Researchers at Virginia Tech also are exploring how urban forests and streamside forests can reduce the amount of nutrients entering waterways and impacting water quality.

Both the University of Maryland – Eastern Shore and Penn State University are leading efforts to engage youth in water education programs. These efforts aim to get youth to think differently about water – focusing on how they (youth) can help clean up the Bay through local watershed education programs.


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