The Maryland Department of Agriculture has announced that mail-in enrollment for this year’s Cover Crop Program runs through July 18.
Farmers who enroll in the traditional Cover Crop Program will receive an increased base payment of $55 per acre, and up to $35 per acre in add-on incentives to incorporate cover crops into their fields this fall. The maximum payment, including incentives, to aerial-seed cover crops has increased to $95 per acre.
New this year, a late-planting extension has been built into the program for farmers who cannot get their cover crops planted by the Nov. 5 planting deadline.
The popular conservation program provides farmers with cost-share grants to help pay for seed, labor and equipment costs to plant cover crops in the fall to control erosion, recycle nutrients, build soil health and protect the Chesapeake Bay.
Eligible small grains may be mixed with radishes and legumes, using a variety of two- and three-species mixes to help create diversity. Traditional cover crops may not be harvested, but they can be grazed or chopped for livestock forage after becoming well-established.
A new pilot program, Cover Crop Plus+, is being introduced this year. This option has higher incentive payments and more planting choices for farmers who sign a three-year commitment to plant cover crop mixes and practice conservation tillage to improve soil health.
The base payment for this premium incentive program is $115 per acre per year. Optional add-on practices can increase the reimbursement rate to $160 per acre. To qualify for payment, optional add-ons must be new practices for an enrolled field.
Enrollment for the Cover Crop Plus+ program runs concurrently with the traditional program. Applications are now available on the Cover Crop Plus+ website. To be considered for cost share, applications should be mailed or dropped off at the local soil conservation district by July 18. Farmers may participate in both programs, but certain restrictions apply.
For more information on Maryland’s Cover Crop Program, visit mda.maryland.gov.
Maryland’s Cover Crop Program is administered by the department’s Conservation Grants Program and the state’s 24 soil conservation districts. Applicants must be in good standing with the program and in compliance with Maryland’s nutrient management regulations.
Funding for the 2022-23 Cover Crop Program is provided by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.
For more information, contact Jason Keppler at 410-841-5864 or firstname.lastname@example.org.