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Farmers eligible for funding through state cover crop program

June 09, 2010

ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Martin O'Malley has earmarked approximately $15 million for Maryland's 2010-11 Winter Cover Crop Program, which provides grants to farmers who plant cover crops this fall to conserve nutrients, reduce soil erosion and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Enrollment for the statewide program takes place from June 21 to July 15 at soil conservation district offices.

Farmers enrolled in the program may plant traditional cover crops at a base rate of $40/acre and receive up to $55/acre in add-on incentive payments for using highly valued planting practices. Traditional cover crops may not be harvested, but can be grazed or chopped for livestock forage for on-farm use after becoming well established.

Farmers who choose to harvest their cover crops receive $25/acre with a bonus payment of $10/ acre for planting rye. Farmers may fill out one application to enroll in both program options. This year, there are no enrollment caps for either program option.

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Cover crops are cereal grains and winter annual brassicas (plants in the cabbage family) that are planted to take up nutrients that remain in the soil following production of corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco or vegetables. Barley, canola, rapeseed, kale, rye, ryegrass, spring oats, triticale and wheat planted this fall are eligible. Incentives are available to farmers who plant rye. Farmers may use seed they have saved. All seed used is required to meet Maryland Seed Law and Regulatory Standards and have a minimum germination rate of 80 percent.

Farmers should visit the local soil conservation district office to enroll during the June 21 to July 15 enrollment period.

For more information, go to http://www.BayStat.org.

Editor's note: This story was edited June 14, 2010, to correct the date of the beginning of the enrollment period.

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