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Williamsport native keeps roots in area

Brian Forsythe is a nutrient management adviser

Brian Forsythe is a nutrient management adviser

December 13, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY ? Growing up on a farm in the Williamsport area, Brian Forsythe knew from an early age that he wanted to find a career that would keep him rooted in the earth. And he has.

Forsythe, 22, recently landed a job at the Maryland Cooperative Extension on Sharpsburg Pike. His official title is nutrient management adviser, Antietam Watershed project agricultural nutrient management program.

"I take soil samples and send them off for analysis," Forsythe said. Based on the results, he then writes up a nutrient program and advises the client what to add, when to add it or what not to add in the way of fertilizer.

Locally, all such soil samples are sent to a lab in Georgia.

Forsythe works from a database of 112 clients, ranging from small to large farms in Washington County.

Farmers and orchardists have choices when it comes to their mandated nutrient management activities, Forsythe said.

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"It can be done free through MCE except for the cost of the soil sample," he said. A private firm can be hired or the farmer can do the sampling himself.

Forsythe said those wishing to go the do-it-yourself route may sign up for classes. The next two-day session is Jan. 22 and Feb. 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Call 301-791-1304 to register.

Growing up working on the family orchard and dairy farm, Forsythe was active in 4-H with dairy cows. He continues to live and work on the farm.

"Jeff Semler told me about the job opening," Forsythe said. Semler is a veteran MCE educator in Washington County.

Forsythe said farmers traditionally only put down as much fertilizer as they have to because it is so expensive.

When they first plant corn in the spring, for example, farmers lay down a strip of fertilizer next to the row where the corn is planted.

"It leaches into the roots in a process we call side dressing," Forsythe said.

Later in the season when pesticides are applied, an additional dose of fertilizer might be used, but not necessarily, he said.

Booklets are available to help clients address the need for accurate farm recordkeeping to evaluate crop management as well as nutrient management decisions.

Much of the effort is to comply with the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998, which aims to prevent as many pollutants as possible from entering Maryland's waterways.

A resident of Downsville Pike, Forsythe is a Williamsport High School graduate who earned his bachelor's degree in dairy science from Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania.

Forsythe is the son of Mike and Christine Forsythe. He has one sister.

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