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Maryland's 2020-2021 Cover Crop Program

cover crop banner 2020-2021

 2020-2021 SIGN-UP IS NOW CLOSED

COUNT ON MACS 
Maryland farmers can count on MACS for grants to plant cover crops this fall to build healthy soils and protect the Chesapeake Bay. It’s easy to understand why cover crops are so popular. Cover crops recycle nitrogen, reduce erosion, add valuable organic matter to the soil, and help protect fields from too much or too little rain. Thinking about adding cover crops to your planting rotation this year? Count on MACS to help you make it happen.​

GRANTS TO PLANT COVER CROPS 
The Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program provides grants to help farmers offset seed, labor, and equipment costs to plant cover crops in their fields following the harvest of summer crops. Our grants can make planting cover crops on your fields this fall affordable.​

MAIL-IN ENROLLMENT  
  • ​To ensure everyone’s safety and peace of mind, this year’s sign-up will be conducted by mail. There is no need for farmers to sign up in person at local soil conservation district offices.
  • Farmers who participated in last year’s cover crop program were mailed applications, instructions and a return envelope.
  • Applications and instructions will be available on the website until enrollment closes on July 17, 2020. 
  • Completed applications must be mailed to the local soil conservation district and postmarked between July 1, 2020 and July 17, 2020.

2020 OVERVIEW AND INCENTIVE OPTIONS 

  • ​The 2020-2021 Cover Crop Program has been simplified and aligned with budget projections.
  • The base payment is $40/acre. The base rate for aerial/aerial ground seeding is $45/acre.
  • Farmers who aerial seed or aerial ground seed cover crops into standing corn on or before September 10, 2020 qualify for a $10/acre incentive payment.
  • Incorporated seed qualifies for a $10/acre early planting incentive.
  • Farmers who terminate cover crops after May 1, 2021 may be eligible for an Extended Season incentive payment of up to $10/acre, contingent on available funds. A determination will be made in February 2021.
  • Incentive payments to plant rye are not offered this year.
  • Plant cover crops after corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco, vegetables—and new this year, hemp and millet.
  • There is a five acre minimum. The total number of acres enrolled may not exceed acreage managed under the farm’s current Nutrient Management Plan.
  • Direct deposit of cost-share grants is available.


(Click on chart to enlarge)

SEED REQUIREMENTS 
  • ​All seed purchased must be tested and labeled following Maryland Seed Law and Regulations.
  • Purchased seed must be free of prohibited noxious weed seeds, have a minimum germination rate of 80%, and have no more than 16 restricted noxious weeds per pound.
  • Homegrown seed with a germination rate between 65% and 79% may be used. Certain rules apply.
  • Cost-share is available for seed testing.

ELIGIBLE COVER CROP SPECIES  

  • Cereal Grains Wheat/spelt, rye, barley, triticale, oats, and ryegrass
  • Brassicas Forage radish and canola/rape
  • Legumes Clover, Austrian winter peas and hairy vetch (must be planted with a cereal grain as part of a mix

COVER CROP MIXES

  • Two-species cover crop mixes may be planted at a rate of 50 percent cereal grains and 50 percent brassicas or legumes.
  • Three-species mixes (50/25/25) must contain a minimum of 50 percent eligible cereal ​grains. 

COVER CROP PLANTING/TERMINATION DATES

  • ​Plant cereal grains by November 5, 2020. Some species have earlier deadlines. (See chart)
  • Mixes containing legumes, forage radish, canola/rape, or oats must be planted by October 1, 2020.
  • The aerial seeding deadline for cover crops is October 10, 2020. Some species have earlier deadlines. (See chart )
  • Terminate cover crops between March 1 and June 1, 2021.​

2020-2021SeedingRates.jpg​​
(Click on chart to enlarge)

FALL MANAGEMENT OPTIONS 
  • ​Eligible cover crops may be grazed or chopped for on-farm livestock forage after becoming well established.
  • Manure may be applied in fall following Maryland's nutrient management regulations.

CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENT ​
To receive payment, farmers must certify cover crops with their soil conservation district within one week of planting and no later than November 13, 2020. 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
  • Participants must be in good standing with MACS and in compliance with Maryland's nutrient management regulations.
  • A current Nutrient Management Plan Certification is required and must be submitted with the application.
  • Additional restrictions may apply. 

    The Cover Crop Program is administered by the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program and funded by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. See your soil conservation district representative or contract for details.​​​
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