MD Farmers- applications now being accepted for grants to boost soil health

03 January 2024- The Maryland Department of Agriculture will accept Fiscal Year 2024 grant applications for its Healthy Soils Competitive Fund beginning January 3, 2024. This program provides financial assistance to eligible farmers and organizations to adopt conservation practices that benefit the climate, soil, and water. Regardless of farm size, Maryland farmers and organizations with innovative conservation ideas are encouraged to apply for these grants. Successful applicants will receive up to $50,000 to support 3 years of enhanced soil health practices. 

“This program funds innovative soil health and agroforestry practices that benefit cropland, improve water quality, and capture carbon from the atmosphere,” said Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks. “It’s a win-win for our farms, our Chesapeake Bay and our climate goals. I urge Maryland farmers with operations of all sizes to apply for these grants.”

Funds are available to farmers or organizations that want to manage the following practices in innovative ways: 

  • Cover Crops
  • Conservation Tillage
  • Pasture and Hay Planting
  • Conservation Cover 
  • Critical Area Planting
  • Conservation Crop Rotation
  • Nutrient Management
  • Integrated Pest Management 
  • New for 2024 – Soil Carbon Amendment

Additionally, the following Agroforestry practices are available for funding:

  • Alley Cropping
  • Hedgerow Planting
  • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment
  • Silvopasture
  • Tree and Shrub Establishment

There are no minimum or maximum acreage requirements. Grant recipients will receive a portion of the funds (not to exceed 40%) up front, with the remainder distributed annually upon verification of progress. The allowable up front payment will be dependent on the proposed scope of work. 

Grants provided by the Healthy Soils Competitive Fund may be used to support the implementation of conservation practices, purchase equipment that supports the adoption of soil health practices, and cover research and administrative costs for organizations that provide technical support to producers. 

Developed with input from Maryland’s Soil Health Advisory Committee, the program is funded by the  Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and the Moore-Miller Administration. Grant applications are available on the website. They should be submitted to the Maryland Department of Agriculture by 5 p.m. on March 6, 2024. Grant recipients will be notified by April 30, 2024. For more information, please contact Nick Miller at nicholas.miller2@maryland.gov or 410-980-2350.