Maryland Soybean Farmers Improve Sustainability of Crop

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Supported by the Maryland Soybean Board, Maryland’s soybean farmers have increased their productivity on less land per bushel thanks to the responsible use of technology and continuous improvement in management practices.

In Maryland, farmers grow about a half a million acres of soybeans, producing more than 20 million bushels of beans each year.

In Maryland, farmers grow about a half a million acres of soybeans, producing more than 20 million bushels of beans each year.

The responsibility for taking care of the land, water and air we utilize to produce soybeans is our livelihood and the heritage that’s been passed to us.

Maryland’s soybean farmers have improved the sustainability of their crop, according to a recent review of government data released by the United Soybean Board.

Thanks to the responsible use of technology and continuous improvement in management practices, Maryland’s soybean farmers have increased their productivity on less land per bushel, the report says. The United Soybean Board’s “Soy Sustainability” research gathered datasets from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Since 2010, Maryland soybean farmers have harvested 29 percent more bushels of soybeans, on just 11 percent more soybean acres. Those additional acres were borrowed from other crops, according to the United Soybean Board.

Over time, Maryland farmers also have put more of their acres into conservation, watershed and wildlife programs, which reduced their environmental impact. With nearly a third of Maryland’s land mass in farming, and almost the entire state within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, how Maryland farmers manage their land has a huge impact on the health of the Bay.

“The responsibility for taking care of the land, water and air we utilize to produce soybeans is our livelihood and the heritage that’s been passed to us. While our farms are often bigger or look different than they did a generation or two ago, our commitment to doing what’s right by our neighbors and future generations remains the same,” says Travis Hutchinson, chairman of the Maryland Soybean Board and soybean farmer from Cordova, Maryland. “My family enjoys those resources the same way most people do. We drink the water, hunt the land, and fish the waterways, so we do everything we can to protect them.”

Maryland farmers embrace their responsibility to conservation through approaches ranging from cover crops and fencing cattle out of streams to high-tech equipment like GPS and variable rate application of fertilizer. In the process, they’ve improved water quality and reduced soil erosion.

In fact, Maryland farmers reduced soil erosion per acre per year by more than a ton between 2000 and 2015, for a total 21 percent reduction of erosion.

The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service reflected these findings in its most recent Chesapeake Bay Progress Report: Agricultural Lands – Key to a Healthy Bay, stating that “Independent reports show positive trends for water quality, habitat and key aquatic species, and modeled results and monitoring stations show declines in nutrient and sediment loads to the Bay.”

American soybean farmers’ sustainability performance is increasingly important to customers who buy their products. Currently, 98 percent of U.S. soybeans are certified sustainable, according to the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP).

U.S. soybean farmers are committed to implementing new production practices to continuously improve their sustainability record. The protocol is a certified, aggregate approach to the sustainability performance of U.S. soybean production. The data used is regularly compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other sources that collect it from U.S. soybean farmers through existing government programs.

Maryland’s farmers produce soybeans all across the state. The soybeans produced in Maryland provide poultry and livestock feed, food, and other everyday products. Those include healthier soybean oils for salad dressing and deep frying, new more sustainable plastics and printing inks, and feed for the poultry and livestock produced across the state.

In Maryland, farmers grow about a half a million acres of soybeans, producing more than 20 million bushels of beans each year. With a value of $173 million to the state’s economy, soybeans are one of Maryland’s top crops.

About Maryland Soybean Board: The Maryland Soybean Board administers soybean checkoff funds for soybean research, marketing and education programs in the state. One-half of the checkoff funds stay in Maryland for programs; the other half is sent to the United Soybean Board. To learn more about the Maryland Soybean Board, visit http://www.mdsoy.com.

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Sandra Davis
Maryland Soybean Board
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