Who We Are
The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) corporation affiliated with the University of Maryland College Park and the University System of Maryland. Founded in 1999, the Center brings together diverse interests from the agricultural, forestry, and environmental communities for the purpose of retaining Maryland’s working landscapes and the industries they support while protecting and improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
What We Do
The Center works toward achieving its diverse mission through a three-pronged approach of scientific research, policy analysis, and outreach and education efforts.
Since it’s inception in 1999, the Center has funded 65 research projects with $6.8 million obtained through the USDA CSREES Special Research Grants Program, the Hatch Act, the State of Maryland General Assembly and through private foundations. These funds were matched by $2.6 million from in-kind, cost-share, and other sources for a total research investment of $9.4 million. The research findings provide decision makers at the federal, state, and local levels with science-based guidance on important topics such as:
- The use of the enzyme Phytase in poultry feed to reduce phosphorus levels in manure
- Ways to improve the federal Conservation Security Program (“green payments”)
- Protecting Maryland’s investment in land preservation through supportive local zoning and compatible transportation policies
- The use of downzoning as a tool to preserve farmland
- An economic assessment of the forestry industry in Maryland
- Identifying alternative crops and niche markets to help farmers who wish to transition from traditional commodity crop production
- Designing riparian buffers to maximize environmental benefits
- Enhancing the economic development of resource-based industries on the Eastern Shore
- Creating a blueprint for an effective TDR program based on other successful models
- Identifying the presence and effect of endocrine disrupting compounds in poultry litter
As a member of the Advisory Committee for the Governor’s Agricultural Forum and Strategic Plan, the Center played an important role in helping to plan the listening sessions that elicited input on agricultural and forestry issues from over 500 Maryland citizens, and ultimately in the formation of the 2006 Statewide Plan for Agricultural Policy and Resource Management.
As a member of the Governor's Commission on Protecting the Chesapeake Bay through Sustainable Forestry, the Center helped to shape Maryland's Strategic Forest Resource Plan for 2006, which recognizes that Maryland's forests should be managed with an eye towards the multitude of services they provide, including clean air, clean water, diverse habitat for wildlife, economic return, and recreational opportunities, among others.
Education and Outreach
The Center continues to expand its Education and Outreach efforts in Maryland. Center staff members periodically brief the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs; hold workshops on research topics such as the availability of tools to preserve working landscapes; make presentations to local governments and community groups; and participate in several interdisciplinary networks through the University of Maryland.