TIMONIUM, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday announced the state of Maryland has reached a new record for cover crop enrollment.
The state said 1,849 Maryland farmers requested funding to plant 641,000 acres of winter grains. O'Malley has been a strong supporter of the state's cover crop program as one of the most cost-effective means of helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay. That's because cover crops like wheat and barley absorb unused nutrients and control soil erosion. They also help protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
"Today's record cover crop announcement is great news for our farmers who continue to voluntarily take strong conservation actions on their farms, diversify their operations and use new technologies as they become available," O'Malley said. "Their dedication, along with the commitment of thousands of volunteers around our State, will not only to help us meet our goals to move our State forward; it will help more Maryland farmers sustain their family businesses."
Cover crops are planted in the fall after the harvest of summer crops such as corn, soybeans and vegetables.
Queen Anne's County had the highest number of acres in cover crop enrollment with 65,716 acres. Kent County came second with 64,851 acres. Talbot County enrolled 60,150 acres; Caroline County enrolled 55,094 acres and Dorchester enrolled 49,149 acres. Frederick County enrolled 48,506 acres, including Frederick and Catoctin Soil Conservation Districts.
"Not only is Maryland's cover crop program a very attractive and flexible program, it has the potential to do more for the Bay than ever before," said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. "We commend and thank all farmers who, together, have applied to plant more than half a million acres of small grain crops that protect our soil and water by taking up any remaining nutrients and preventing soil erosion over the winter."