The Choptank Digitizing Project is still making headway, as students work diligently in the lab. Olivia Hughes recently completed another portion of the project, analyzing the occurrence of chicken houses throughout the watershed and digitizing these. The houses were not restricted by size, as the goal was not to merely discover CAFOs, but all houses in the Choptank region.
“Stew asked me to do some personal research as well.” Olivia reported. She delved into the legal limit of chickens per square foot in a house and the average amount of manure excreted per chicken. Farmers will spread this manure as fertilizer, so she also looked into the spreading rates. From here, an estimate can be generated for the amount of nitrogen runoff in the Choptank.
Nitrogen runoff poses a threat to the Bay, as it is an aspect of nutrient runoff. This runoff is adversely affecting the health of the Bay, as the nutrients overload the capacity of the aquatic system. The Chesapeake Conservancy will use this information to ensure a healthy location to place oyster spat, which will hopefully result in a higher survival rate of the oysters.