ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) reminds citizens in rural areas to expect an increase in low-flying airplanes or helicopters through Oct. 10, 2021, due to aerial seeding for fall cover crop planting. This time of year, farmers enrolled in Maryland’s Cover Crop Program are planting wheat, rye, barley, and legume seeds onto their fields to help protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and improve soil health.
“Maryland’s Cover Crop Program is one of the most popular agriculture conservation programs in the state and recognized across the nation,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “During the fall, farmers participating in the program plant cover crops to ensure runoff from fields does not enter local waterways. People living in rural Maryland should expect to see an increase in low-flying aircraft over the next month while aerial seeding is taking place.”
Farmers enrolled in the program can plant cover crops 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. While planting cover crops, no pesticides or fertilizers are applied. For aerial seeding, small planes will take off from local airports serving the county or region.
Maryland’s Cover Crop Program is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. The program is administered by MDA and the state’s 24 soil conservation districts through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program. For more information, please contact your local soil conservation district.
–Megan Guilfoyle, Maryland Department of Agriculture