Cover Crop Plus

​​​Meet the farmers and conservation professionals​​

The 2024-2025 Enrollment Period has ended.​
Approval letters will be mailed shortly.  

How would you like to earn higher incentives to plant cover crops in your fields to improve soil health? Cover Crop Plus+ offers higher incentive payments to farmers who use enhanced cover crop practices to encourage greater biodiversity and increased residue management to improve soil health.​

You 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 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 $18​0/acre


  • ​You sign a contract to grow cover crop mixes on the same fields for 3 consecutive years. 
  • You may enroll up to 500 acres in this program. 
  • You agree to maintain a living root system on enrolled fields throughout the year and manage the cover crop to achieve maximum soil health and water quality benefits (30% residue).
  • Fall cover crops must be planted within 10 days of harvesting or terminating the previous crop, or planted “green” into a standing ​crop to maintain near year-round living roots in the soil. The planting deadline is October 15. ​ (Limited one-time exceptions to the fall planting deadline may be granted, resulting in a reduced payment. Restrictions apply.)
  • You agree to plant multispecies cover crops, with cereal grain or ryegrass making up at least 50% of the mix and a legume making up 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.​
  • Only no-till or conservation tillage may be used throughout the 3-year contract.
  • To qualify for payment, optional add-ons must be new practices not used in the previous 3 years on an enrolled field. 
  • After 3 years, you may re-enroll in the optional practices.
  • 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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