The Maryland Department of Agriculture has announced that the sign-up period for its Cover Crop Program will run from July 1 to 16.
The program provides farmers with cost-share assistance to offset seed, labor and equipment costs associated with planting cover crops on their fields in fall to build healthy soils and protect the Chesapeake Bay.
Enrollment will be conducted entirely by mail. Farmers who participated in last year’s Cover Crop Program will receive registration packets in the mail later in June. Beginning July 1, applications will also be available on the program’s website.
To be considered for cost-share, applications should be mailed to the local soil conservation district for processing and must be postmarked by July 16. Farmers who have questions or need assistance with their applications should contact their local soil conservation district.
Higher payment rates
This year’s program features higher rates, more planting flexibility and a variety of special incentives for certain highly valued practices.
Eligible farmers can receive up to $75 per acre in cost-share grants to incorporate traditional cover crops into their fields this fall. The maximum payment for aerial seeding with incentives is $80 per acre.
Here’s a list of this year’s incentives:
- Base payments have been raised to $45 per acre for incorporated seed, and $50 per acre for aerial seed or aerial ground seeding.
- A $10-per-acre early-planting incentive is being offered for incorporated seed.
- A $10-per-acre incentive is available to farmers who plant either rye or a multispecies cover crop.
- Farmers who aerial-seed or ground-seed cover crops into standing corn on or before Sept. 10 qualify for a $10-per-acre incentive payment.
- Incentives to terminate cover crops after May 1, 2022, are available.
Farmers may plant cover crops after corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco, vegetables, hemp and millet.
To help create diversity, eligible cover crops may be mixed with radishes and legumes, including clover, Austrian winter peas and hairy vetch using a variety of two and three-species mixes.
Farmers are required to include a completed current nutrient management plan certification with their cover crop applications. This form may be downloaded from the program’s website and must be signed by both the farm operator and the person who prepared the farm’s plan.
Maryland’s Cover Crop Program is administered by MDA and the state’s 24 soil conservation districts through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program. Applicants must be in good standing with MACS and in compliance with Maryland’s nutrient management regulations. Other restrictions and conditions apply.
Funding for the 2021-22 Cover Crop Program is provided by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.