One of the many ways the State of Maryland is helping to improve water quality is through the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Cover Crop Program. Farmers are encouraged to grow a small-grain cover crop behind corn, soybeans, vegetables or tobacco. Roots of the small-grain cover crop absorb nutrients left in the soil by the previous crop and prevent these nutrients from entering the groundwater during the winter.
The record amount of rainfall severely impacted the amount of cover crop farmers were able to plant during the fall of 2018. When the soil is saturated, farmers are limited to what can be done on the field, so only about 50% of the expected cover crop was planted. However, this still could potentially reduce the nitrogen loading to the groundwater by a total of 15,600 pounds.
2018 – 2019 Cover Crop Program Statistics:
- 20 farmers signed up for 4,176 acres
- 6 farmers had to cancel
- 14 farmers participated and fall certified 2,156 acres
- 70% of the farmers who signed up for the program planted cover crop in the fall
- 52% of the signed-up acres were planted in the fall
Click here to learn more about the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Cover Crop program.
Contact Diana Lagunes at the District for further assistance.