ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with Maryland’s Soil Health Advisory Committee, has released its recommendations for Maryland’s Healthy Soils Program. The recommendations include strategies to advance the adoption of on-farm soil health practices that increase carbon sequestration, improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and increase on-farm profitability.
“The recommendations included in this report will provide a roadmap for moving Maryland’s Healthy Soils Program forward,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The ultimate aim is to promote conservation practices that contribute to healthy, productive soils that can protect crops from extreme weather, reduce erosion and nutrient runoff, and capture and store carbon from the atmosphere.”
Established in 2017, the Healthy Soil Program is charged with improving the health, yield, and profitability of Maryland soils; increasing biological activity and carbon sequestration capacity; and promoting the use of healthy soils practices. The department established a Soil Health Advisory Committee to provide guidance and support to achieve its goals.
Highlights From the Report
Maryland’s Healthy Soils Program prioritizes the following conservation measures to advance healthy soils:
- Cover Crops
- Conservation Tillage (reduced and no-till)
- Prescribed Grazing
- Pasture & Hay Planting
- Conservation Cover
- Critical Area Planting
- Conservation Crop Rotation
- Nutrient Management
- Integrated Pest Management
A Healthy Soils Competitive Fund will provide financial assistance for the adoption of healthy soils practices, with a focus on projects and operators that are ineligible for other programs.
A Cover Crop+ Program focusing on multi-species and extended season cover crops will be introduced to complement the department’s popular existing program.