INTRODUCING Cover Crop
a new pilot financial incentive program for soil health farmers. Cover Crop
PLUS+ offers higher incentive payments and more perks for farmers who plant cover crops to improve soil health. The program is offered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Conservation Grants Program.
HOW IT WORKS
Farmers sign a contract to grow cover crop mixes on the same field for 3 consecutive years. You agree to maintain a living root system in enrolled fields for most of the year and manage the cover crop to achieve maximum soil health and water quality benefits.
The base payment for this premium incentive program is
$115/acre per year. Optional add-on practices can increase the reimbursement rate to
$160/acre. To qualify for payment, optional add-ons must be new practices (not used in the previous 3 years) for an enrolled field.
COVER CROP PLUS+ RATE CHART WITH ADD-ON PRACTICES
- You agree to plant cover crops on the same fields for 3 consecutive years.
Fall cover crops must be planted by October 1 of each year.
- You must plant a cover crop mix containing at least 50% cereal grains and 25% legumes.
- This program uses the same species and seeding rates as Maryland's traditional Cover Crop Program.
- A cash crop is:
- Planted directly into a living cover crop in the spring, or
- The cover crop is terminated no earlier than one week before the cash crop is planted.
- Tillage is limited to no-till or conservation till throughout the 3-year contract.
- You may enroll up to 500 acres in this program.
- You must meet the State of Maryland's definition of an “agricultural operation."
- If you lease land, you must confirm that the enrolled acres will be under your care for the entire term of the agreement.
- You must be in good standing with the Maryland Nutrient Management Program, the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program, the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation Program, and other MDA conservation grants programs.
- You must submit a current Nutrient Management Plan Certification with your application.
- Additional restrictions may apply.
HOW TO APPLY FOR COVER CROP Plus+
- Download the application from the right column.
- Take the completed application to your local soil conservation district to review and submit to MDA
- Wait for your approval letter before proceeding.
- Contact your local soil conservation district if you need technical assistance or help planning your soil health practices.