Farmers Offer Backyard Water Conservation Tips to Residents

ANNAPOLIS (July 12, 2010) - The extreme summertime heat and dry weather is here, and now is the time to conserve water. Maryland farmers have begun an education campaign, “Take it from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay” to help Maryland residents to reduce their impact on the environment. The campaign offers a variety of tips that farmers use and can be easily adapted by urban and suburban residents. They are available online at Water conservation is the featured tip this month.

“Farmers, like homeowners and all residents of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, play an important role in reducing water use and in protecting our soil and water resources and we all must do more,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “It is a priority of the O’Malley-Brown Administration to protect the health of the Bay for all to enjoy and to strengthen our family farms. I encourage all Marylanders to take backyard actions that protect the Chesapeake Bay so that we continue to create a smart, green and growing future.”

The campaign highlights various conservation measures, also known as best management practices, that farmers use to produce healthy crops and protect the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Farmers know the importance of conserving water, not only during periods of extreme dry weather, but throughout the growing season and beyond.

“Farmers understand the value of water and never want to see it wasted,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Many routine farm-based conservation measures can easily be adapted to backyard lawn care and gardens. With soil testing, rainwater management, and appropriate plantings along with equipment maintenance, homeowners can produce beautiful, thriving, Bay-friendly yards.”

Water conservation tips include:

-- Avoid frequent, light watering – it promotes shallow root growth and encourages weeds.

-- Purchase and install a rain barrel equipped with mosquito netting to store rainwater for future use and to reduce stormwater runoff and harmful soil erosion.

-- Use a rain gauge to monitor rainfall and apply additional water to plants only if needed.

-- Don’t waste water, repair leaks including hose connections.

-- Consider xeriscaping, a method of gardening that uses drought tolerant plants and a combination of practices to reduce water usage.

Additional topics in the “Backyard Actions” campaign include the wise use of fertilizers, trying pesticide alternatives and composting, controlling soil erosion and rainwater runoff, and winter garden planning. For more information, log onto to download the informational brochures, listen to the audio pieces, and link to additional resources. The University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center is available to take questions by calling toll-free 1-800-342-2507 (outside Maryland 410-531-5573) from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. to speak with a Certified Professional Horticulturist about easy-to-follow, Bay-friendly suggestions for their lawns and gardens.

Take it from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay was developed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center, the Maryland Sea Grant along with Maryland farmers through an agricultural awareness group. The program was made possible through grant funding that supports the implementation of the Statewide Plan for Agricultural Policy and Resource Management.

Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture

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