Maryland: Department Invests $993,000 in Innovative Soil Health and Agroforestry Practices

~ Annapolis, MD - The Maryland Department of Agriculture has announced the recipients of the Healthy Soils Competitive Fund, with a total of $993,000 in grant funding being awarded to 23 projects. This innovative grant program aims to support farms and organizations of all sizes that adopt conservation practices to benefit climate, soil, and water.

According to Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks, the department was impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity shown by Maryland farmers in their participation in the program. In its second year, the Healthy Soils Competitive Fund saw a 50% increase in grant awards for innovative soil health and agroforestry practices. Atticks believes that these practices will lead to a brighter and more sustainable future for healthy food, cleaner waterways, and climate resilience.

Established in 2023, the Healthy Soils Competitive Fund provides winning applicants with up to $50,000 over three years to support enhanced healthy soil and agroforestry practices. Recipients receive 40% of the funds upfront and the remainder is distributed annually after progress is verified. The fund supports a variety of innovative conservation practices including intensive cover cropping combined with alternative inputs for row crops, reduced tillage in vegetable production systems, establishment of silvopasture systems and windbreaks for grazing livestock, on-farm composting system improvements and soil amendment trials.

More on Marylandian
Other supported practices include annual cover crops for improved forage in rotational grazing systems, conservation cover and hedgerow planting in small intensive production systems, whole farm conservation practices for small-scale vegetable and cut flower production, enhanced soil testing and resource development for urban farm networks, pasture establishment and rotational grazing, as well as removal of diseased ash trees and invasive species for re-establishment of forest buffers with native trees and shrubs.

The Healthy Soils Competitive Fund was developed based on recommendations from the Soil Health Advisory Committee. Funding support is provided by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and the Moore-Miller administration's Climate Solutions Now Act. The size of the farm is not a consideration for grant approval.

In its second year, the program received 57 applications from farmers across the state, with 23 being selected for funding. In addition to implementing the conservation practices listed above, grant recipients will also be required to share their progress over the course of the three-year grant term.

The Healthy Soils Competitive Fund accepts applications during its annual open enrollment period, which takes place for approximately eight weeks beginning in January. For updates and more information about the program, interested parties can visit the program's website.

Filed Under: Government, State

Show All News | Report Violation


Latest on Marylandian