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Northeast Roundup: Cost share is available for testing biofertilizers on mid-Atlantic farms; Vermont sets pesticide applicator trainings.

February 16, 2024

5 Min Read
A single deer in a field
DEALING WITH DEER: A new initiative in Maryland will connect farmers with hunters to address deer damage on farmland. Courtesy of Luke Macaulay

The Maryland Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, is putting together a new initiative that will connect farmers with hunters to address deer damage on farmland.

The goal of the new initiative is to teach deer management techniques to reduce the negative impact of deer overpopulation and loss caused by deer eating crops. The initiative was developed after farmers expressed concerns about the ongoing issue last year during the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s deer summit. as well as a survey of farmers who continually experience crop damage.

"The negative impacts of overpopulation of deer on the economic livelihood of Maryland farmers and arborists cannot be ignored. While deer are a crucial part of the state's ecosystem, they also cause significant damage to crops, forest regeneration, and private and commercial landscaping," says Kevin Atticks, secretary of agriculture. “Therefore, the department is working on developing and implementing strategies to manage the overpopulation of deer and minimize their negative impacts.”

The management initiative also includes plans to work with local jurisdictions to expand access to existing public lands and new opportunities for future acquisitions of public lands, as well as an option for deer meat harvested by hunters to be donated to the Maryland Food Bank and Capital Area Food Bank.

The Department of Natural Resources will work with farmers who approach the Maryland Department of Agriculture to help connect them with hunters to arrange access to their private land to help reduce deer populations.

Gregg Bortz, media relations manager with DNR, says the initiative will complement existing deer management strategies for farmland.

“One of our main goals is to educate farmers and hunters about the importance of antlerless harvest to the management of the state's deer population,” Bortz says. “We work to provide regulations that allow and encourage the harvest of antlerless deer.”

The department’s management strategies focus on the following:

Traditional hunting. Bag limits differ depending on area of the state but have historically focused on increased antlerless harvest in areas of highest deer density.

Managed hunts. These controlled hunts are highly organized with the main intention of reducing localized deer densities. These take place on some state-owned properties, and many county municipalities host their own managed hunts.

Deer management permits. To help farmers and landowners who are experiencing damage to commercial crops, nurseries or certain managed forests, DNR provides permits to harvest antlerless deer outside the traditional deer hunting season. Landowners need to apply for these permits, and DNR staff confirm the damage before issuing any permits.

Deer cooperator permits. These permits are issued to entities that provide deer control assistance in areas where hunting is not a viable option. Cooperators must apply and be approved before providing any deer control assistance.

More information is available at

For information, contact Cassie Shirk, assistant secretary for marketing, animal industries and consumer services in the Maryland Department of Agriculture, at [email protected].

Cost share available for biofertilizer testing

The Mid-Atlantic 4R Nutrient Stewardship Association is offering cost share for enhanced nutrient management practices.

The cost share of $20 per acre is available for testing biofertilizer products or adding an additional split of nitrogen. Agribusinesses are eligible to receive $500 per farmer to provide technical assistance and deliver data for economic analysis.

Farms must be located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and comply with core nutrient management requirements. Farms must enroll a minimum 40 acres.

For the biofertilizer cost share, farmers will be asked to complete three different nutrient prescriptions on their corn. Eligible biofertilizers are those that claim to supplant nitrogen sources and make recommendations to reduce overall nitrogen application rate.

The first strip will include the farmer’s typical nutrient management program without a biofertilizer. The second strip will include their typical nutrient management program with a biofertilizer, and the remainder will include a reduction in nitrogen rate with the biofertilizer. Farmers can purchase and test the product they wish to trial.

For the split-nitrogen cost share, farmers will be asked to add an additional split of nitrogen to a portion of their 2024 corn crop, with the same total pounds of nitrogen across the field. This split can be performed at any point in the growing season as long as it is a new practice on the field.

The 4R Alliance will be collecting data from both trials to evaluate corn yield and nutrient-use efficiency. The data will be aggregated with no identifying information or location shared publicly. Funding for the cost share is being provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

For more eligibility information, visit

For more information, contact Jenell Eck McHenry at [email protected] or at 443-262-6969.

Vermont pesticide applicator trainings set

On April 9, University of Vermont Extension and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will offer a review session, followed by a written examination, at four locations for anyone seeking pesticide applicator initial certification.

Venues are the UVM Extension Office in Brattleboro, 130 Austine Drive, Suite 300; UVM Extension Office in Rutland, 271 N. Main St.; Vermont Department of Health Office, St. Johnsbury, 107 Eastern Ave.; and the Robert Miller Community Center, Burlington, 130 Gosse Court. 

The review of materials will begin at 9 a.m. with the required written exam from 2 to 4 p.m. Registration is required. The registration fee is $40, or $60 after April 1. No walk-ins are allowed.

To register, visit To request a disability-related accommodation, contact UVM Student Accessibility Services at [email protected] or call 802-656-7753.

Pesticide applicator certification is required by law for anyone in Vermont who uses, supervises, recommends or sells pesticides, or trains Worker Protection Standard handlers and workers. To become certified, a passing score of 75% on the exam is required.

After passing the core exam for initial certification, anyone requiring commercial or noncommercial certification will need to take additional exams for specific categories. These may be scheduled for a future date through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture at

To learn more about the pesticide applicator program, visit or contact Sarah Kingsley-Richards at 802-656-0475 or [email protected].

Source: University of Vermont Extension

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