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Cover Crops

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NEWS
June 3, 2007
Farmers who plant cover crops this fall to help reduce soil erosion and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries may apply for cost-share grants of up to $50 an acre through the Maryland Department of Agriculture's 2007-2008 Winter Cover Crop program. Sign up will be held tomorrow through June 29 at local soil conservation district offices. The earlier a crop is planted, the higher the reimbursement rate: $50 if planted by Oct. 1, $40 by Oct. 15 and $30 by Nov. 5. Farmers may plant from 5 to 700 acres and cannot harvest traditional cover crops.
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NEWS
July 28, 2012
In their June 18 op-ed "No more half-measures for the bay," Parris N. Glendening, Bernie Fowler, Tom Horton, Gerald W. Winegrad, Walter Boynton and Thomas R. Fisher, great friends of the environment, acknowledge Maryland's efforts to curb "bay-choking nutrient pollutants" but blame Maryland farmers and population growth for the lack of progress in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay. I disagree. Over the last several years, Maryland's farmers have been some of the strongest partners in our efforts.
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NEWS
August 5, 2007
The state Department of Agriculture reminds farmers participating in the 2007-2008 Traditional Winter Cover Crop Program that they can graze livestock in cover-crop fields or cut and bale the crop for winter hay once the cover crop is fully established. Many livestock producers are in a feed deficit because of reductions in hay and grain supplies and pasture grasses from the drought. Cover crops are widely recognized as one of the most cost-effective and environmentally promising ways to absorb unused nitrogen and control soil erosion to reduce potential nutrient impacts to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries during winter.
FEATURES
Tim Wheeler | February 21, 2012
Maryland farmers planted a record acreage in pollution-absorbing "cover crops" this past fall, state officials announced today, hailing it as a new milestone in the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort. With the state paying them to do so, farmers seeded a total of 429,818 acres statewide in wheat, barley and other crops before winter set in, in what scientists say is one of the most cost-effective ways to curb nutrient pollution fouling the bay.  The plant nutrients in fertilizer - phosphorus and nitrogen - are prone to wash off or soak into ground water if left in the soil after the fall harvest, contributing to the formation of the bay's "dead zone" every summer, where fish and crabs can't get enough dissolved oxygen to breathe.
NEWS
By TED SHELSBY | June 10, 2007
The race is on for Maryland farmers to obtain state money to help pay for the planting of cover crops. The state Department of Agriculture began taking farmers' applications for funding last week and, if recent history is any indication, the money will run out before the June 29 registration deadline. Cover crops are recognized as one of the most cost-effective and environmentally sound ways to control soil erosion and nutrient runoff from farmland into the Chesapeake Bay. The crops are grains - usually wheat, barley and rye - that farmers plant after harvesting corn and soybeans.
NEWS
September 17, 2000
Q. I like the idea of building my garden soil by planting a cover crop. But most of my veggies are still going strong. I don't want to pull them up to make room for plants I can't eat. What's an organic gardener to do? A. Here are a few ways around your dilemma: 1)Remove the mulch from around your plants and between your rows and sow a cover crop on the bare soil. The young cover crops won't interfere with your vegetable harvest. 2) Pull up any spent vegetable plants and sow cover crop seed in their place.
NEWS
By TED SHELSBY | May 21, 2006
The planting of cover crops by Maryland farmers, a practice that can benefit the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, is expected to expand significantly this year, according to state agriculture officials. Cover crops - typically wheat, barley or rye - are planted after farmers harvest their main crops, usually corn or soybeans. As the cover crop grows through the winter, it draws excess nutrients from the ground, preventing them from entering waterways. The practice also stabilizes the soil and helps keep it from washing away in winter.
BUSINESS
By Ted Shelsby and Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF | August 28, 2002
In an attempt to get more farmers to participate, Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced major changes to the state's cover-crop program yesterday. In addition to extending the deadline to sign up for the plan, which is designed to prevent harmful farm runoff into the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways, the state will allow farmers to harvest their cover crops at the end of the season to sell as grain or to use as animal feed. In past years under the program, farmers who planted wheat or barley as cover crops in the fall were required to plow them under in the spring.
FEATURES
August 30, 1998
Q. I like the idea of improving my vegetable-garden soil this winter with a cover crop, but I want to let my peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers produce until frost. Will any cover crops grow in November?A. No. The hardiest cover crops are winter rye and winter wheat, and they must be planted by Oct. 1 to make a few inches of growth before the first hard freeze. There is a solution, however. You could plant a cover crop during the next few weeks by removing any mulch around your vegetable plants and sowing your cover-crop seed between your vegetable plants, and in walkways and other bare areas.
NEWS
By Andrew A. Green and Andrew A. Green,Sun reporter | April 20, 2007
SALISBURY -- Gov. Martin O'Malley launched a series of Earth Day-related events yesterday by telling farmers he believes they are essential to Maryland's efforts to protect the environment and promising to do whatever is necessary to keep agriculture profitable in the state. Because fertilizer runoff from farms is a major source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, environmentalists and farmers have often been at odds. O'Malley's predecessor, Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., frequently spoke of his belief that farmers must be part of the solution to environmental problems when he sought votes in rural areas, and O'Malley sought to reassure farmers yesterday that he holds the same view.
NEWS
By Frank D. Roylance, The Baltimore Sun | August 16, 2011
Maryland has enrolled a record 550,000 acres of farmland in the state's winter cover crop program, the state announced Tuesday. The project pays farmers to plant small grains in the fall to reduce the erosion of soil and harmful nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay. In all, a record 1,767 farmers have signed acreage up for the coming winter, including 206 who are enrolled for the first time, according to the state Department of Agriculture. "Over the years we've made the program more attractive," said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance.
NEWS
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun | June 17, 2011
Maryland got an infusion of $2 million in federal funds Friday to pay state farmers to plant cover crops in winter, replacing state money cut from one of the most effective efforts to reduce nutrient pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay. The state's cover crop program was one of six farm conservation projects in the six-state bay watershed to receive a total of $3.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service....
NEWS
By Baltimore Sun Staff | August 19, 2010
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has approved more than half a million acres of winter grains in the state's cover crop program, a record that officials said would protect both the land and the Chesapeake Bay. Small grains such as wheat, rye or barley are planted as cover crops in the fall to draw on unused nutrients, control soil erosion and limit runoff to the bay and its tributaries. Gov. Martin O'Malley, appearing Thursday at a farm in Cordova on the Eastern Shore, announced that the state had approved a record 502,323 acres of winter grains – one and half times the two-year milestone – requested by a record 1,688 farmers.
NEWS
By Timothy B. Wheeler and Timothy B. Wheeler,tim.wheeler@baltsun.com | November 21, 2009
SUDLERSVILLE - -Hans Schmidt's fields were so muddy his van nearly bogged down as he drove across the flat Eastern Shore landscape to where he'd knocked off planting wheat the other night - just ahead of another downpour. It's been a wet year for farmers, and that could spell trouble for the Chesapeake Bay. Schmidt and other Maryland farmers have been in a race with the weather lately - trying to get the last of their fall crops harvested and their fields replanted in pollution-absorbing "cover crops" before winter sets in. "Spring was so wet, it was just like this domino effect," Schmidt said last week as he eyed a brown field of ripe soybeans too soaked to harvest.
FEATURES
By Timothy B. Wheeler | November 21, 2009
Hans Schmidt's fields were so muddy his van nearly bogged down as he drove across the flat Eastern Shore landscape to where he'd knocked off planting wheat the other night - just ahead of another downpour. It's been a wet year for farmers, and that could spell trouble for the Chesapeake Bay. Schmidt and other Maryland farmers have been in a race with the weather lately - trying to get the last of their fall crops harvested and their fields replanted in pollution-absorbing "cover crops" before winter sets in. "Spring was so wet, it was just like this domino effect," Schmidt said last week as he eyed a brown field of ripe soybeans too soaked to harvest.
NEWS
September 3, 2008
With its cities, industry and traffic congestion, the Chesapeake Bay region is known more for its energy consumption than energy production. But that could change, perhaps within a decade or so, if officials in Maryland and neighboring states are willing to invest in cellulosic ethanol. In layman's terms, that's the production of alcohol from the fermentation of stalks, stems and wood chips that contain glucose. Cellulosic ethanol is one of the most promising technologies within the field of biofuel production.
BUSINESS
By Ted Shelsby and Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF | July 15, 2002
For the first time in recent years, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is extending its popular farmland cover-crop program statewide. Under the program, farmers are paid by the state to plant cover crops such as oats, barley, rye and wheat on fields after the fall harvest of other crops. Cover crops are considered the most cost-effective way to reduce harmful nutrient runoff from farmland into the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways. The program benefits farmers by adding organic matter to the soil, limiting soil erosion and retaining moisture in the soil.
NEWS
By TED SHELSBY | March 23, 2008
When it comes time to handing out conservation awards, the Maryland farmer should be at the front of the line. Farmers dug deep into their own pockets and paid out more than $1.4 million to adopt a record number of on-farm conservation practices last year to protect soil and water from erosion and excess nutrients. According to a report by the state Department of Agriculture, farmers installed more than 2,100 conservation projects last year. The state picked up most of the tab by providing $13.1 million in cost-share funding from the Maryland Agricultural Water-Quality Cost-Share program.
NEWS
By Janene Holzberg | February 22, 2008
The Patrick family employs several farming techniques that contributed to their selection as 2007 inductees into the Maryland Agriculture Hall of Fame, according to the governor's office. They include: Crop rotation -- switching the crop planted in the same space between seasons to prevent depletion of the soil. No-till farming -- planting seeds in a small line dug by a disc in lieu of digging, or tilling, all the soil within the plot. Grassed waterways -- planting land with grass to stem soil erosion by slowing water runoff and guiding it into a designated outlet.
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