News from the fields, farms and beyond…

Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder says he is excited about what’s new with the upcoming Cover Crop Program, including new incentives for soil health.

Mail-in enrollment runs from July 1-18.

“Several exciting changes have been made to our traditional Cover Crop Grant Program this year,” Bartenfelder said. “We’ve also introduced a new Cover Crop Plus+ option for farmers willing to go the extra mile to build their soil’s health.”

Farmers willing to enter into a 3-year cover crop commitment and practice conservation tillage should enroll in Cover Crop Plus+. This is a pilot program, which will offer a payment of $115 per acre, with an option to boost that payment as high as $160 an acre.

New this year in the Traditional Cover Crop Program is a late planting extension for farmers who can’t meet the Nov. 5 planting deadline.

The Traditional Cover Crop Program is increasing the base pay to $55 per acre with a $35 per acre bonus to plant cover crops this fall. The maximum payment for aerial seeding has been raised to $95 an acre.

Those that participated last year should see a registration packet in the mail soon. Applications will be online starting July 1 at https://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Pages/cover_crop.aspx.

The deadline to enter is July 18. Applications need to be dropped off or mailed to the Cecil Soil Conservation District Office at 105 Chesapeake Boulevard in Elkton.

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Enrollment is open now for the Junior Rangers sessions at Elk Neck State Park, 4395 Turkey Point Road in North East, which starts July 19 and runs every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 until 11:30 a.m. through Aug. 4.

This program is for children age 6-13. Pre-registration is required. The cost is $25 per child, with $15 for each additional child in the family. Call 410-287-5333 to register.

Meanwhile, learn about the plants and animals that help make your food possible with the Maryland Park Services Park Quest: Parks for Pollinators Program, also at Elk Neck State Park.

The Quest is available daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. until Oc. 31. Learn about local pollinators and test your knowledge against others in the Park Quest program. Call 410-287-5333 for details or to register. Park admission is required to participate.

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Charlestown won a $100,000 grant from the Maryland Waterway Improvement Fund to help with the cost of engineering for the proposed dredging project in three locations along the Northeast River.

Bryan Lightner, Town Administrator, said the grant would cover studying the situation around the fire boat pier, the public boat launch and the town pier.

“It’s been 7 to 10 years since it was last done,” Lightner said. “I’m sure those areas are overdue.”

Whatever engineering form wins the bid would also look into how much dredge material would be removed and stored in the town’s retention pond by the water tower.

“It will go into the retention basin to dry. Once dry it is tested by Maryland Department of the Environment and then we can use it,” Lightner said. Uses for the dried dredge spoils include mixing with compost or as fertilizer.

The RFP for the engineer will go out July 1.

Lightner said the actual dredging is likely another year away.

“We will have to go into another grant round for that,” he said, adding the amount of the dredge material a year from now would have to be adjusted.

If you have a farm or natural resources related event, idea or story you’d like to share in AgriCulture contact Jane Bellmyer at jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com or 443-245-5007

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