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.