Maryland farmers grow soybeans on more than 500,000 acres using responsible farm management practices

to protect our air, land and water today and for future generations.

16 Million Bushels Annually

500,000 Acres of Soybeans

12,800 Maryland Farm Families

$200 Million Value of Soybeans in Maryland's Economy

“I farm because it’s in my blood. You get done planting a field and you turn around and the sun’s setting over the pattern of the crops that you’ve just planted and it’s a pretty rewarding experience to see all the hard work pan out and know that you’re helping to feed families throughout the Mid-Atlantic,” says Mike Harrison of Woodbine, Md.

MD Farm and HarvestMaryland Farm & Harvest introduces viewers to Maryland farmers, their products and practices. It is produced by Maryland Public Television and supported by the Maryland Soybean Board and host of other agricultural organizations. See more episodes here.





GMO Soybeans

The World Health Organization defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, including between non-related species. Such methods are used to create GMO plants – which result in GMO food crops. This technology is called biotechnology.

Farmers and gardeners have been creating plant hybrids for as long as they’ve been growing plants. Biotechnology simply serves as a more technologically advanced method.

USDA says that while particular biotech traits may be new to certain crops, the same basic types of traits are often found naturally in plants and allow them to survive and evolve.

What do we know about GMO food safety?

Every plant improved through the use of food biotechnology is examined by the FDA and EPA for potential health risks. Tests are done on plants before entering the food and animal feed supply. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that current foods containing biotech ingredients have passed human health risk assessments. In addition, the WHO says no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of biotech foods. Source:

Conventional versus Organic Foods

Should I always try to buy organic foods?

Organic does not necessarily mean a healthier product. In fact, a comprehensive review of some 400 scientific papers on the health impacts of organically grown foods, published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, concluded organic and conventional food remain equally healthy.

All foods – whether organic or nonorganic – must meet certain health and safety regulations before being sold to consumers. Several U.S. government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), monitor the food production chain through regulations and inspections from farm to fork to ensure that all food is safe.

Understanding what classifies food as organic is complex. The production processes involved in growing or raising food qualify it as organic, not the final product itself. Organic classification should not be an automatic green light indicating the quality or safety of a product.

Is organic food more nutritious?

The USDA, which certifies organic production, makes no claims that organically grown food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food. Organic food proves to be only different in how it is grown, handled and processed.

In the case of milk, stringent government standards include testing all types of milk for antibiotic and other residues to ensure that both organic milk and conventional milk remain equally pure, safe and nutritious. Organic or traditional, all milk contains the same valuable nutrients.

Soybean Estrogens

Whole soybeans provide isoflavones, which are plants’ natural pytoestrogens and different from human estrogen. Isoflavones often block the action of estrogen and thus have a positive role in lowering incidence of breast cancer.

Isoflavone intake for the average U.S. person is only 2.35 mg/day. Often the soy ingredients added to many foods are soy oil and lecithin, which do not contain isoflavones.

Concerns that Americans are exposed to large amounts of isoflavones because soy is added to a number of commonly consumed foods aren’t borne out by the data. The total mean intake of isoflavones in Asian countries ranges from 25 to 50 mg/d, with a small proportion (10%) consuming as much as 100 mg/d.

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Can we have food AND fuel? Yes!

Half of the biodiesel produced in the US is made from soybean oil. The other half is produced substantially from animal fats, used cooking oil, and other recycled or waste oils.

It is easy to see how using wastes and byproducts to make biodiesel is a good thing, but some people have trouble understanding that using soybean oil works the exact same way. Biodiesel uses excess oil that we don’t use in our food supply. In doing so, biodiesel improves the economics of providing a healthy mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fat that we do use in our food supply.

Let’s start with soybean basics. Soybeans are the most efficient crop for producing protein. Protein demand drives the planting of soybeans. Soybeans are crushed to separate the protein meal from the oil. Every soybean is approximately 20% oil and 80% protein meal. Protein meal is fed to livestock and consists of approximately 50% pure protein while also containing significant amount of carbohydrate energy and dietary fiber. From this meal, livestock receive a balance of required nutrients. This diet may be supplemented with some fat. However, the soybean oil produced with every bean is far in excess of the fat that is fed to livestock. – See more at:

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Innovation behind the Bushel

The soy checkoff works with a number of industrial users to incorporate soy into their enterprises whenever viable opportunities exist. The high costs and environmental consequences of petroleum have made soy products even more appealing.

Learn more!

Current new uses for soy include plastics, lubricants, coatings, printing inks, adhesives and solvents. Ford Motor Co. is researching soy-based plastics and have used soy-based foams in their car seats for years. The federal government purchases more than $250 billion in goods and services each year, and its preference for biobased products will help drive the inclusion of soy-based products in those purchases.


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Free Assistance to Update Farm Nutrient Management Plans
University of Maryland Extension (UME) nutrient management specialists will be available to help certified farm operators update their nutrient management plans for the upcoming cropping season. Laptop computers equipped with NuMan Pro plan writing software, printers and technical support will be available to help certified farmers update their plans quickly and easily. Registration is required. Each session is limited to 11 participants, so please register early by contacting Paul Shipley at 301-405-2563 or Attendance is free.

The following sessions are now accepting applicants:

February 27 - Frederick County Extension Office
March 27 - Garrett County Extension Office
April 16 - Frederick County Extension Office
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CONGRATULATIONS to Dave and Linda Burrier - Northeast Region winners of the 2018 Conservation Legacy Awards.

The Conservation Legacy Awards is a national program designed to recognize the outstanding environmental and conservation achievement of soybean farmers, which helps produce more sustainable U.S. soybeans.

A national selection committee, composed of soybean farmers, conservationists, agronomists and natural resource professionals, evaluated nominations based on each farmer’s environmental and economic program. The achievements of these farmers serve as a positive example for other farmers and help produce a more sustainable U.S. soybean crop. This program is sponsored by ASA, BASF, Monsanto, Corn & Soybean Digest, the United Soybean Board/Soybean Checkoff and Valent.

Dave and Linda Burrier know what it is like to live in a highly scrutinized farming area, particularly when it comes to protecting water quality. Their farm in Union Bridge, Md., is within 50 miles of the Chesapeake Bay and situated against the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains. The farm is in a valley served by two well-traveled roads.

“We feel we are in a fishbowl,” Linda Burrier said. “We are always very conscious of what people can see. We try to keep our farm looking picturesque and our landlords expect us to care for their land in the same way.”

Regulators have pointed to agriculture as the largest source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, and in 2010, established Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulations as a way to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and all the rivers and streams that feed into it. The Bay TMDL, set by the EPA under the Clean Water Act, set targets for reduced nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution.

One way the Burriers demonstrate their conservation commitment is through the use of strip cropping. Their crops are grown in long narrow strips and the farm’s 1,800 acres support a diverse mix of crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, hay, and grass hay. “All our fields have a certain amount of slope,” David Burrier explained. “Alternating crops in these strips allows us to control soil erosion, control sediment loss and retain nutrients.”

In non-crop areas, the Burriers have installed and maintain grass waterways and buffers to reduce runoff. The TDML regulation has required them to have a nutrient management plan, which has greatly increased their record-keeping. Operating under TMDL regulations, the Burriers look for ways to efficiently provide crop nutrients to maximize production while minimizing potential nutrient losses.

Dave is a past chairman of the Maryland Soybean Board and Linda is currently serving as a director on MSB and a director on the United Soybean Board. Please join us in congratulating them on this much-deserved award!
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Farmers May Apply Commercial Fertilizer to Small Grains
Beginning February 25

ANNAPOLIS, MD (Feb. 20, 2017) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture today announced that farmers who planted small grains for harvest last fall may “top dress” these crops with commercial fertilizer beginning February 25, as long as ground conditions remain favorable and in accordance with their nutrient management plans. The determination follows Maryland’s nutrient management regulations and is based on research conducted by University of Maryland plant experts. As a reminder, manure may not be applied to fields until March 1.

Each year, University of Maryland researchers examine soil temperatures and crop growth over the winter to estimate when small grains will emerge from dormancy. This measurement, known as Growing Degree Units, is used to determine when small grains will benefit from spring nitrogen applications. According to data collected by University researchers, commercial fertilizer may be safely applied to small grains beginning February 25. At this time, these plants will have absorbed all available nutrients in the soil and will require additional nutrients to keep growing.

"The winter of 2017-2018 has been interesting,” said Dr. Robert Kratochvil, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist at the University of Maryland. “Through January, it was colder than normal resulting in a slow accumulation of Growing Degree Units. The first couple weeks of February were warmer and the number of Growing Degree Units increased. A further assessment conducted on February 16 combined with the extended forecast indicated that small grains would benefit from the first application of spring nitrogen on February 25.”

The University recommends split applications of spring nitrogen with the first application occurring on or soon after February 25 based on Growing Degree Units and the second application when the crops begin to joint.

For additional information on Maryland’s nutrient application requirements, contact the department’s Nutrient Management Program at 410-841-5959. Farmers with fields that are not suitable for harvest should contact their crop insurance agent for guidance.
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