ANNAPOLIS, MD (Sept. 21, 2022) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding citizens in rural areas to expect an increase in low-flying airplanes or helicopters through Oct. 10, 2022, due to the aerial seeding of small grains. Farmers enrolled in Maryland’s Cover Crop Program use this method of seeding in their fields to help protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
“Maryland’s Cover Crop Program is our most popular conservation practice,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “In the fall, participating farmers plant wheat, rye, and other small grains on newly harvested fields to recover any leftover nutrients from summer crops. This helps protect water quality in local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay while building and maintaining soil health. People living in rural Maryland should expect an increase in low-flying aircraft over the next several weeks while seeding occurs.”
Farmers enrolled in the Cover Crop Program may plant small grains and other qualifying species by incorporating seeds into newly harvested fields or aerially seeding them into standing corn, soybeans, or sorghum. Once established, cover crops work all winter long to provide a living, protective cover against erosion and nutrient runoff while building the soil’s organic matter for the next year’s crop. No pesticides or fertilizers are applied to cover crops. Small planes will take off from local airports serving the county or region for aerial seeding.
Maryland’s Cover Crop Program is funded by the Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. Through the Conservation Grants Program, the program is administered by MDA and the state’s 24 soil conservation districts. For more information, please contact your local soil conservation district.