first published in the May 2024 Equiery

We are pleased to announce that the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Office of Resource Conservation (ORC) is the new sponsor of the Maryland Horse Council’s Farm Stewardship column. The $2.9 billion Maryland equine industry comprises a quarter of the overall agricultural industry in Maryland, which is itself the largest commercial sector in the state. This April, ORC launched a new Horse Owner Conservation Outreach Education Program, and we at MHC are thrilled to be partnering with them on this important project. Watch this space for information, research, and tips about how to keep your horses happy and healthy while also helping Maryland reach its conservation goals.

Did you know that there is a simple way to address all your of your farm’s natural resource concerns instead of tackling problems one by one? Consider getting a Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plan.

These plans identify and prioritize environmental concerns for your entire operation. They are developed free of charge by technical experts in your local soil conservation district and will provide you with a blueprint for making environmental improvements as time, need, and money allow.

A typical Soil Conservation and Water Quality Plan includes:
• Farm map
• Soil information
• Inventory of natural resources
• Engineering notes
• Recommended best management practices, including weed and pest management

Getting a conservation plan is a voluntary decision that is based on the needs and objectives of you, the landowner or operator. Best management practices proposed in these plans are also based on your input and needs. Conservation plans are “flexible” and may be altered as your operation or objectives change. What’s more, soil conservation staff can help you
navigate state and federal cost share programs that help cover costs to install many types of best management practices.

Have you installed a conservation practice on your farm without the help of state or federal cost-share assistance? If so, we want to hear from you! Please let us know about any best management practices you have installed on your own to protect soil and water resources. Qualifying projects help protect local streams while ensuring that our state’s equine community gets the credit it deserves for its conservation work.

These are the types of practices we are looking for:
• Cropland converted to hay or pasture
• Dry waste storage structures
• Barnyard roof runoff structures
• Stream fencing
• Alternative watering systems
• Composting systems
• Rotational grazing
• Heavy use areas, and more!

For more information or free assistance in planning or implementing the best management practices please visit or call for a more personal experience.

Nutrient Management Program 410-841-5959
Plant Protection And Weed Management Section 410-841-5920
Pesticide Regulation Section 410-841-5710
Maryland Horse Industry Board 240-344-0000

Univ. of MD Extension Offices
Allegany 301-724-3320
Anne Arundel 301-226-7470
Baltimore County 410-887-8090
Baltimore City 410-856-1850
Calvert 410-535-3662
Caroline 410-479-4030
Carroll 410-386-2760
Cecil 410-996-5280
Charles 301-934-5403
Dorchester 410-228-8800
Frederick 301-600-1594
Garrett 301-334-6960
Harford 410-638-3255
Howard 410-313-2707
Kent 410-778-1661
Montgomery 301-590-9638
Prince George’s 301-868-9367
Queen Anne’s 410-758-0166
St. Mary’s 301-475-4484
Somerset 410-651-1350
Talbot 410-822-1244
Washington 301-791-1304
Wicomico 410-749-6141
Worcester 410-632-1972

MD’s Soil Conservation Districts
Allegany 301-777-1747, ext. 3
Anne Arundel 410-571-6757
Baltimore 410-527-5920, ext. 3
Calvert 410-535-1521, ext. 3
Caroline 410-479-1202, ext. 3
Carroll 410-848-8200, ext. 3
Cecil 410-398-4411, ext. 3
Charles 301-638-3028
Dorchester 410-228-5640, ext. 3
Frederick 301-695-2803, ext. 3
Garrett 301-501-5856, ext. 3
Harford 410-638-4828
Howard 410-313-0680
Kent 410-778-5150, ext. 3
Montgomery 301-590-2855
Prince George’s 301-574-5162, ext. 3
Queen Anne’s 410-758-3136, ext. 3
St. Mary’s 301-475-8402, ext. 3
Somerset 410-621-9310
Talbot 410-822-1577, ext. 5
Washington 301-797-6821, ext. 3
Wicomico 410-546-4777, ext. 3
Worcester 410-632-5439, ext. 3