Governor Martin O'Malley Announces Record Cover Crop Enrollment

Governor lauds farmersí environmental stewardship efforts

Vienna, MD (August 16, 2011) – Surrounded by fields of soybeans, Governor Martin O’Malley today joined Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, agricultural leaders, local farmers, and elected officials to announce record cover crop acreage by Maryland farmers. 

“We are working with Maryland’s farmers to protect family farms and agriculture jobs, and to keep family farming profitable,” said Governor O’Malley. “Today’s announcement is great news for our farmers who continue to take strong conservation actions to diversify their farming operations and use new and innovative ways to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Together, we are creating jobs and supporting rural economies, improving our quality of life, and securing the future of Maryland agriculture and our environment for generations to come.”

Cover Crops

Governor O’Malley announced that Maryland has approved a record 550,000 acres of winter grains to date in the Cover Crop Program, which were requested by a record 1,767 farmers – 206 of which were new to the program this year. This record acreage represents 155 percent of the Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan goals for cover crops.  Cover crops are one of the most cost-effective means of helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Cover crops are planted in the fall after the autumn harvest to help farmers control soil erosion and reduce the amount of nutrients washing into the bay over the winter.  Once established, cover crops recycle unused plant nutrients remaining in the soil from the previous summer crop, protect fields against wind and water erosion, and help improve the soil for the next year’s crop.  Maryland’s Cover Crop Program provides farmers with grants to plant cover crops on their fields immediately following the summer crop harvest

“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. Maryland farmers are on track to exceed the Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan milestone for cover crops with record number of approved acres,” said Agriculture Secretary Hance. “We commend and thank all farmers who, together, have enrolled more than half a million acres of small grain crops that protect our soil and water by taking up any left over nutrients and preventing soil erosion over the winter.” 

Top counties ranked by the largest percentage of eligible farmland enrolled:

    • Allegany 702/800 acres  – 88 percent
    • Calvert 5,616/6,600 acres  – 85 percent
    • Montgomery 21, 167/26,000 – 81 percent
    • Somerset 25,144/31,500 – 80 percent

Top counties ranked by most acres enrolled:

    • Queen Anne’s – 63, 838
    • Kent – 57, 799
    • Talbot – 55, 322
    • Frederick – 43, 434
    • Dorchester – 40,991

The announcement was made at Lazy Day Farms/Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery in Dorchester County. The Layton family manages more than 1,800 acres, including 1,250 acres of grain, 12 acres of grapes and owns/operates the winery. The Laytons are innovative, agricultural leaders and Governor’s Hall of Fame inductees.  They are known for their use of technology and forward thinking, conservation and environmental stewardship and service to the county and the industry. A brief slideshow featuring the Laytons is available here.


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