The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded $600,000 to Maryland Department of Agriculture to conduct statewide remote sensing of cover crops. The tool will be used to routinely measure winter cover crop productivity and nutrient uptake.
The project will create a web-based framework to monitor cover crop implementation and performance. It's also expected to add to partnership efforts in priority Chesapeake Bay watersheds in Pennsylvania and Virginia. It builds on work being conducted in Maryland's Choptank and Chester River watersheds on the Eastern Shore.
The new grant expands the effort to the Monocacy watershed in Maryland, the Smith Creek watershed in Virginia and the Conewago Creek watershed in Pennsylvania. By the end of the project, it is expected that areas throughout Maryland will be included.
Project partners include USDA's Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Maryland, Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District along with local conservation agencies and organizations.
Maryland's two-year milestone for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay includes increasing the amount of farmland planted with cover crops to 325,000 acres. That would help achieve nearly one-third of agriculture's nutrient reduction goals, according to state ag officials.
For more information about the MDA cover crop program, please visit Cover Crops.