Responding to Saltwater Intrusion
and Its Impact on Agriculture

Friday – November 22, 2019  •  9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
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Doordan Institute (7th floor) – Belcher Pavillion
Anne Arundel Medical Center (directions)
2000 Medical Parkway Annapolis, MD 21401
FREE (includes lunch)
Limited Seating



9:00 a.m.

Registration & Networking

9:45 a.m.

Welcome & Introduction
Presenters:  Mike Thielke, Executive Director at Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center - Easton, MD
                          Andrew Rose, Director of Innovation, Strategy and Development at MidAtlantic Farm Credit - Bel Air, MD

10:00 a.m.

Agroecosystems in Transition: the Effect of Saltwater Intrusion on Coastal Farmlands - The Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US are experiencing some of the highest rates of sea-level rise in the world; particularly affected are the low-lying, shallow sloping coastal lands of the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore. Sea level rise increases the penetration of saltwater into surface and groundwaters by reducing the elevation difference between land and sea. This phenomenon, known as saltwater intrusion, reduces crop productivity and mobilizes nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Thus, as sea levels rise, land management (both past and current) interacts with saltwater, crops, and plant communities to affect farm productivity and profitability, as well as nutrient loading in adjacent water bodies. This talk will examine the extent and impact of saltwater intrusion on soil and water chemistry on Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland in the Choptank River watershed. Soil and porewater along a transition from healthy crops to salt-damaged crops, and also in abandoned fields, healthy forests, salt-intruded forests, marshes, agricultural ditches, and tidal creeks across the Lower Eastern Shore. Chemical analysis indicates dramatic changes in both soils and porewater along an intrusion transition in farm fields. Soil salinity levels exceed crop tolerance thresholds and high levels of phosphorus is poised for loss on the edge of ditch banks. High concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen in marsh water suggests that saltwater intrusion is freeing nutrients to move across landscapes. On the other hand, we are encouraged by the high potential for carbon storage in agricultural fields exposed to saltwater intrusion and discuss possible management strategies for farmers battling this phenomenon. Although saltwater intrusion may affect relatively small portions of the landscape, these farm fields may have an outsized impact on the health of the Chesapeake Bay. This work can inform farm management and conservation practices in regions experiencing saltwater intrusion due to human-induced sea-level rise.

Presenter: Kate Tully, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Ecology at the University of Maryland - College Park, MD

11:00 a.m.

Multidisciplinary Approaches to Understand the Problem of Saltwater Intrusion That Lead to Developing Solutions. - There are numerous research teams evaluating the challenges imposed by saltwater intrusion onto agriculture and conservation lands, and most of these include expertise representing soil, environmental, crop, economic, hydrology, chemical, and biological Sciences. Representatives from this panel will further highlight issues of concern that may result into areas of opportunity.

Moderator: Paul Ulanch, Executive Director, Crop Commercialization Program at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center - Research Triangle Park, NC
Panelists: Dr. Eric Edwards, Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University
                     Dr. Steven McNulty, USDA Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources at North Carolina State University, and Director of
                     the USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub (SERCH)
                     Dr. Jarrod Miller, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Agronomy at the University of Delaware

12:00 p.m.

Buffet Lunch

12:30 p.m.

Attendee Interactive Session - What are the unknowns? This session will allow the audience, both live and streaming, to ask hard questions, surface problems that lack solutions and offer their perspective on saltwater intrusion and inundation.

Audience participation is encouraged. The value of this session will rely on everyone asking and responding to questions, sharing information (both fact and perspective), and advancing the overall understanding about the saltwater intrusion issue.

Farmers have been invited to be a part of this conversation in order to provide their real world, real time perspective on this issue and the impacts saltwater intrusion is having on their businesses and their livelihoods.

Audience should participate via device by going to

1:15 p.m.

Current Saltwater Intrusion Research and Solutions - The solutions to saltwater intrusion will come from the combined efforts of industry, government, academia and non-profit organizations working in concert. This panel will explore early stages of this work.

Moderator: Andrew Rose, Director of Innovation, Strategy and Development at MidAtlantic Farm Credit - Bel Air, MD
Panelists: Barrett Ersek, CEO and Founder of Holganix LLC
                     Christine Conn, Director, Office of Science and Stewardship, Chesapeake and Coastal Service at Maryland Department of
                     Natural Resources

                     Kate McClure, Coastal Climate Specialist at Maryland Sea Grant
                     Karl Binns, Lead Development Officer at University of Maryland Eastern Shore
                     Paul Ulanch, Executive Director, Crop Commercialization Program at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center

2:15 p.m.

Salt Water Intrusion Planning in Maryland - The Maryland Department of Planning, in consultation with DNR, MDE and MDA, (Chapter 628, Laws of Maryland 2018) is required to establish a plan to adapt to saltwater intrusion by December 15, 2019, and to update that plan at least once every five years thereafter. Since a significant amount of Maryland is adjacent to brackish or salty waters including the Chesapeake Bay, Coastal Bays, Atlantic Ocean, and their associated tidal tributaries, and since climate change impacts such as sea-level rise and worsening storms are affecting the movement of these waters, Maryland already is experiencing saltwater intrusion impacts within coastal farmland and forests, wetlands, and in some water supplies. To identify the scope for the project, and how this issue is affecting Maryland, Planning established a state agency workgroup, interviewed subject matter experts, and completed extensive research. In 2019, Planning will coordinate a review process with subject matter experts and stakeholders of the draft plan, focused on identifying five-year research priorities and promising applicable adaptation measures to explore for Maryland. Hear an update on the developing plan and a summary of the pending proposals being considered.

Presenter: Jason Dubow, Manager, Resource Conservation at the Maryland Department of Planning - Annapolis, MD

2:45 p.m.

Wrap Up & Adjournment

3:00 p.m.

Networking & Refreshments


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