CIB advisors talk environment

The Center for the Inland Bays’ Science and Technical Advisory Committee met on Friday, Aug. 21, at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, to discuss a variety of topics related to the area’s environment.

Dr. Greg Binford, associate professor and extension specialist at the University of Delaware, reported on his research, “In-Field Stockpiling of Poultry Litter.”

Because, until now, there had been no production-size piles studied for their nitrogen and phosphorus runoff and effect on quality, only research-sized piles, he and his team set up to do some field work to test several different types of covers.

Over a three year period, they compared a poly cover on the litter to no cover to other types of cover, including spray-on techniques. His research encompassed the fall of 2005 into the spring of 2006, then the fall of 2006 into the spring of 2007.

“In conclusion, the spray-on covers had no benefit, and were sometimes worse,” he said. “Nutrients are being lost from the piles, but the greatest amount is in potassium (eight times more than nitrogen or phosphorus), and the poly covers offered no benefit from nitrogen losses.”

He added that, while nitrogen is being lost, the numbers should be kept “in perspective,” and he offered that, possibly, piled litter had less potential for losses than litter spread at the “wrong time.”

He ended saying that current regulations should be followed and piles should be piled high and not spread out for less loss of nitrogen.

Current regulations call for piles to be in a conical shape, and to be at least 6 feet tall if left for 90 days and at least 10 feet tall for 150 days, with 150 days being the maximum. It also calls for the piles to be located 100 feet from surface water and 200 feet from a well and, when removed, the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil are to be taken, as well.

Also at the Aug. 21 meeting, Carol Bason and from the University of Delaware spoke about a CommunityViz case study. CommunityViz is a GIS software that can help with land-use decisions.

Tony Pratt of DNREC spoke at the meeting about sea level and its history over millions of years. He spoke of the importance of keeping sands on the beach and the importance of the barrier island that separates the bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

“The Center for Inland Bays wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t physically exist if not for the barrier island. Not managing the sediment out here,” he said, pointing to the ocean side, “which acts as a shock absorber to the inland bays. … The only capacity to protect the estuaries is behind it.”

He also spoke of some 3,000 global physicists who do not necessarily agree with the warnings about CO2 generated greenhouse gas and its impact on the climate and, while DNREC uses the IPCC [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Pratt said his opinion was that “the jury is still out.”

“I’m a skeptic because of the variables we see,” he said. “No one on the planet can definitely say why the last ice age came or went. People are reading this planet more closely than we ever have in history and, in the event we can put it into perspective, that’s where we are.”

Pratt was challenged by an audience member who asked why the severity of the impact of greenhouses gasses and international consequences of climate change were not emphasized in his presentation.

“The presentation ought to convey the urgency to take remedial action,” he said.

Pratt replied that, while he respected the opposite opinion, his was one he formed over 30 years of working with wetlands and beaches.

“It’s a controversial subject,” interjected Dr. Sergio Huerta of DNREC and the chair of Center for the Inland Bay’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee.

“I don’t believe it is controversial,” said the audience member.

Huerta said, “A lot more homework needs to be done. There are different opinions and different sets of data.”