Details are already out for Maryland's 2007-2008 Cover Crop Program. The state will provide a record $8.6 million in winter cover crop cost-share funds for farmers planting environmentally-beneficial crops
"We're pleased to offer a commodity cover crop program for farmers who want to harvest their cover crop, and the traditional cover crop program which doesn't allow for harvest," says Maryland Ag Secretary Roger Richardson. As always, the goal is to reduce soil erosion and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Sign up will run from June 4 through June 29 at local soil conservation district offices. And, it's offered statewide.
Early birds get bigger worms
Traditional cover crop: Under this program, the earlier the crop is planted, the higher the reimbursement rate. Cover crops planted by October 1 are eligible for $50 an ace in cost-share funding. Cost-sharing of $40 an acre is available for plantings completed by October 15. Plantings completed by November 5 would be eligible for $30 an acre.
For this program, the state will offer split reimbursement payments, dispersed in the fall and spring.
You can enroll from five up to 700 acres. While cover crops in this program can't be harvested for grain, they may be grazed or chopped for livestock forage after becoming well established.
Commodity cover crop: It's for farmers who want to harvest cover crops. Up to 250 acres may be enrolled using a separate application. Eligible farmers must plant by November 5, 2007 to receive $20 an acre. Certain restrictions apply.
A hulless barley option is being offered to develop a feedstock for a future ethanol plant. Funding for this program is made available through a USDA Agriculture Conservation Innovation Grant with enough funding for 10,000 acres.
Cover crop rules
Cover crops are cereal grains that may be planted immediately following fall harvest of corn, soybeans, sorghum, tobacco or vegetables. Barley, canola, rapeseed, kale, rye, ryegrass, spring oats, triticale, and wheat are eligible.
All seed must meet Maryland Seed Law and Regulatory Standards and have a minimum germination rate of 80%. Certain manure use is restricted.
Applicants must be in good standing with the Maryland Ag Water Quality Cost-Share Program to participate, and must be in compliance with Nutrient Management Program requirements during the entire period.
Requests will be approved on a first come, first served basis. Additional stand-by acres in the conventional program may be approved if funds are available after regular sign-up ends. Stand-by acreage is not available in the Commodity Cover Crop Program.
Contact your local soil conservation district office to enroll before the June 29 deadline. An on-line application form that can be faxed to local soil conservation district offices is available on the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Web site: www.mda.state.md.us. For more information, contact the MACS office at 410-841-5864.