The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced that mail-in enrollment for this year’s Cover Crop Program runs from July 1-18, 2022.
Cover crops are essential to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the productivity of Maryland’s farmland, providing a protective cover against erosion and nutrient runoff while building the soil’s organic matter for next year’s crop. The Cover Crop Grant is conservation program giving 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.
“Several exciting changes have been made to our traditional Cover Crop Grant Program this year,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “We’ve also introduced a new Cover Crop Plus+ option for farmers willing to go the extra mile to build their soil’s health.”
According to the MDA press release, new parts of the program include:
Farmers who enroll in the department’s Traditional Cover Crop Program receive an increased base payment of $55/acre and up to $35/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/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 November 5 planting deadline.
Beginning July 1, interested farmers may download applications from the Cover Crop website. To be considered for cost-share, applications should be mailed or dropped off at the local soil conservation district by July 18, 2022.
A new pilot program, Cover Crop Plus+, is being introduced this year. This program option offers higher incentive payments and more planting choices for farmers who sign a 3-year commitment to plant cover crop mixes and practice conservation tillage to improve soil health. Farmers agree to keep a living root system in enrolled fields for most of the year and manage the cover crop to achieve maximum soil health and water quality benefits. The base payment for this premium incentive program is $115/acre per year. Optional add-on practices can increase the reimbursement rate to $160/acre. To qualify for payment, optional add-ons must be new practices for an enrolled field.