Cover Crop Plus

​​​Meet the farmers and conservation professionals​​

The 2023-2024 Enrollment Period Has Now Ended 

Now in its second year, Cover Crop Plus+ is an agricultural conservation program that offers higher incentive payments for enhanced cover crop implementation to encourage greater biodiversity and residue management to further improve soil health. The program is offered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Conservation Grants Program.

Farmers sign a contract to grow cover crop mixes on the same field for 3 consecutive years. Applicants agree to maintain a living root system in enrolled fields throughout 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 $125/acre per year. Optional add-on practices can increase the reimbursement rate up to $155/acre. To qualify for payment, optional add-ons must be new practices (not used in the previous 3 years) for an enrolled field.

Edwin Remsberg Crep Photo


  • You agree to plant cover crops on the same fields for 3 consecutive years.
  • You may enroll up to 500 acres in the program.
  • Fall cover crops must be planted by October 1 of each year. (Limited one-time exceptions to the fall planting deadline may be granted, resulting in a reduced payment. Restrictions apply.)
  • You must plant multispecies cover crops, with a cereal grain or ryegrass comprising at least 50% of the mix, and a legume comprising at least 25%. Download the Seed Calculator (Excel file) provided in the right column to help calculate a cover crop seed mix that will qualify for the program.
  • This program uses the same species and seeding rates as Maryland's traditional Cover Crop Program.
  • You must only use no-till or conservation tillage throughout the 3-year contract.
  • You must plant all crops (cover crops and cash crops) within 10 days of harvesting or terminating the previous crop, or plant "green" into a standing crop to maintain near year-round living roots in the soil.
  • There is no deadline to terminate cover crops in the spring.
  • ​​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.
  • ​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.

Click here to visit our Traditional Cover Crop Program webpage.

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