Maryland: Department Announces 2024 Cover Crop Grant Sign-Up Dates

ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 13, 2024) ~ Annapolis, MD - The Maryland Department of Agriculture has officially announced the start of the annual sign-up period for the Cover Crop Program. From June 21 to July 17, 2024, farmers can apply for cost-share assistance at soil conservation district offices statewide. This popular program aims to protect local water quality, promote healthy soils, and reduce carbon emissions by providing grants to farmers who plant fall cover crops.

According to Maryland Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks, the department has allocated approximately $20 million for the 2024-2025 Cover Crop Program. This year, they are offering higher incentive payments to farmers who use highly valued cover crop planting practices that deliver increased water quality and soil health benefits. The Cover Crop Plus+ option also offers enhanced payment options for cover crops planted in the same field for three years.

Fall-planted cover crops are not only beneficial for farming practices but also play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the Chesapeake Bay and soil resources. These crops recycle unused plant nutrients from previous summer crops and fortify the soil for spring planting. They also work throughout the winter to prevent erosion, supply organic matter to the soil, reduce weeds and pests, and protect fields from extreme weather conditions. Additionally, cover crops help mitigate climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil.

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Farmers who sign up for the Traditional Cover Crop Program can receive up to $105/acre in cost-share grants. This includes a base rate of $50/acre and up to $55/acre in incentives. The maximum payment for aerial seeding with incentives is $90/acre, while a late-season planting option pays a flat rate of $40/acre. However, certain restrictions do apply.

For those interested in participating in the Cover Crop Plus+ option, enhanced rates are available for farmers who agree to plant a multi-species cover crop using conservation tillage practices that leave at least 30 percent crop residue. The base rate for this option is $125/acre, with a maximum payment of $180/acre when combined with additional conservation practices.

The department's Conservation Grants Program and the state's 23 soil conservation districts will administer the cover crop grants. Applicants must be in good standing with the program and comply with Maryland's nutrient management regulations. A completed and signed Current Nutrient Management Plan Certification is required at signup, and other restrictions and conditions may apply. Funding for the 2024-2025 Cover Crop Program is provided by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.

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Farmers are encouraged to contact their local soil conservation district by July 17 to apply in person for cover crop grants. Those who participated in last year's program should also check their mailboxes for an information packet. For more information on the Traditional Cover Crop Program, farmers can contact Dawn Bradley at 443-978-3302 or For details on Cover Crop Plus+ grants, they can reach out to Sarel Cousins at 410-980-6697 or Additional information is also available on the department's website.

Filed Under: Government, State

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