CBF Strongly Supports Legumes in Multi-Species Cover Crops

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauds the decision by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) for the first time to provide cost share funding for legumes as part of a multi-species cover crop, something CBF has been advocating for years.

This provides a way for farmers to meet their nitrogen needs without relying on poultry litter or chemical fertilizers. It is also seen as a potential long term solution to soils over saturated with phosphorus.

In response to the decision, CBF released the following statements.

Alison Prost, CBF's Maryland Executive Director, said:

"Despite widespread recognition of the benefits of multi-species cover crops, adoption rates of their use are extremely low in Maryland. The current MDA cover crop program encompasses more than 400,000 acres annually but those acres are largely in single species cereal grains.

"CBF encourages MDA to target limited conservation dollars towards multi-species cover crops which have greater diversity, and will help improve soil health, increasing productivity and benefiting local water quality and the Chesapeake Bay. Doing so reduces the dependence on commercial fertilizers."

Paul Sorenson, a Future Harvest Board member and owner of Gravel Springs Farm in Carroll County, said:

"Our vegetable farm in Carroll County is like many others in Maryland, struggling with legacy phosphorus issues. This new addition to the program will absolutely help us reach our goals of returning nitrogen to our soils, meeting our conservation commitments while attaining our yield goals for our crops."

David Paulk, a Future Harvest Board member and owner of Sassafras Creek Farm in St. Mary's County said:

"Organic production has limited options for nitrogen sources, most of which are manure based. Manure based nitrogen sources also contain phosphorus which is typically excessive in soils already. By adding legume cover crops, farms can achieve their nitrogen goals without adding unnecessary phosphorus."

Information on MDA's cover crop program is available at: http://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/counties/2015CoverCropProgram.pdf

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