Report: Bay region farms need more runoff controls

WASHINGTON — A draft USDA report says most farmland in the Chesapeake Bay watershed needs more runoff control on fertilizers that can pollute waterways.

The report is being developed as the federal Environmental Protection Agency is implementing a tough, new bay restoration strategy that has been criticized by farm interests.

Nitrogen and phosphorous in fertilizer and manure are known as nutrients because they help plants grow, but can also can promote oxygen-robbing algae blooms in waterways. The report says 81 percent of cultivated cropland in the six-state bay watershed requires additional nutrient management.

The report is part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project that studies the effectiveness of soil and water conservation practices on agricultural lands.

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