$15 Million Available in Cost-Share Funds to Maryland Farmers

Cover Crop Program Sign-Up Runs June 21 – July 15

ANNAPOLIS (June 29, 2010) – Maryland has earmarked approximately $15 million for Maryland’s 2010-2011 Winter Cover Crop Program, which provides grants to farmers who plant cover crops this fall to conserve nutrients, reduce soil erosion and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Enrollment for the statewide program takes place from June 21 through July 15, 2010 at soil conservation district offices.

Farmers enrolled in the Maryland Cover Crop Program may plant traditional cover crops at a base rate of $40/acre and receive up to $55/acre in add-on incentive payments for using highly valued planting practices. Traditional cover crops may not be harvested, but can be grazed or chopped for livestock forage for on-farm use after becoming well established.

Farmers who choose to harvest their cover crops receive $25/acre with a bonus payment of $10/ acre for planting rye. Farmers may fill out one application to enroll in both program options. This year, there are no enrollment caps for either program option.

“Again this year, farmers may choose from a list of cover crop contractors who can help them meet planting deadlines during the busy harvest season. Farmers may wait until spring to decide which fields to retain for harvest,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Earl F. Hance.

Cover crops are cereal grains and winter annual brassicas (plants in the cabbage family) that are planted to take up nutrients that remain in the soil following production of corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco or vegetables. Barley, canola, rapeseed, kale, rye, rygrass, spring oats, triticale and wheat planted in the fall of 2010 are eligible. Special incentives are available to farmers who plant rye. Farmers may use seed they have saved. All seed used is required to meet Maryland Seed Law and Regulatory Standards and have a minimum germination rate of 80 percent.

MDA’s 2010-2011 Cover Crop Program is administered by the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program and funded by the 2010 Chesapeake Bay Trust Fund and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.

Applicants must be in good standing with MACS to participate and must be in compliance with the Nutrient Management Program. Farmers should visit their local soil conservation district office to enroll during the June 21 – July 15, 2010 enrollment period.

When fully implemented, the full suite of 2-Year Milestones will preventing an additional 3.75 million pounds of nitrogen and 201,000 pounds of phosphorus from reaching waterways by the end of 2011. Cover crops will account for 25 percent of this reduction.

Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture

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