Overview and Outcomes

Partnering with Environmental Integrity Project and Center for Progressive Reform Chesapeake Commons aided in the data structuring, analysis, and visualization of Annual Implementation Reports (AIRs) for certified animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Maryland. AIR’s data are an important asset to Bay restoration decision making because they provide insight on a CAFO’s year to year operation, manure production, and transport.  By understanding how these nutrients are moved, it sheds light into how successful state funded nutrient transport programs in moving phosphorus from saturated These data are often only accessible by Freedom of Information Act request and once obtained are in a paper form. While the cleanup process has been long and difficult, we believe that molding the AIRs into actionable data will lead to better information that can inform Bay restoration policy.  regions.


To gain a better understanding of how manure moves from producer to recipient on the Eastern Shore, we created a simple transport visualization. The animated map starts by first plotting the location of the CAFO producing the manure, and then draws a route from the origin to the recipient. Detailed information is provided on the amount of manure moved from point a to point b as well as an estimated distance. We started by mining and structuring data from Section B and Section H of the AIRs. These portions of the form disclose the amount of manure exported and the location of the recipient. We mapped the operation’s address, recipient’s address and tabulated attributes disclosing the quantity of manure exported. To generate the transport route, our team relied on Mapbox’s Directions API which enables users to create the most efficient routes from point a to point b. While the exact driving path from the CAFO producing the manure to the recipient cannot be determined by data provided in the AIRs, our animation assumes the hauler drove the most efficient route.


While this visualization does not represent the full picture of eastern shore manure transport, it highlights examples where manure is hauled right next door to nearby fields or incredibly far distances for a variety of uses. This map is one the many information products that can be created with well structured AIRs data. With additional validation these data will become invaluable for spotting and addressing inefficiencies in transport and could help get excess nutrients off of saturated fields and where they are needed. We have a long road ahead on the data cleanup front, but creating small visualizations like this one help our team stay motivated on the possibilities and the big picture of producing robust data sets that can help improve our waterways.