CAMBRIDGE – Cover crops grown over winter are the right thing to do according to some local producers, who participated in the Grand River Conservation Authority’s Rural Water Quality Program and received an incentive payment last year. The program offers a per acre incentive to applicants in Waterloo Region, Wellington, Brant, Haldimand, and Dufferin counties. The benefits of cover crops are numerous as they can reduce erosion, build better soil structure and improve soil health.
“Farmers have told us that cover crops are a simple and cost-effective way of feeding the soil and minimizing erosion,” said Louise Heyming, supervisor of conservation outreach with the GRCA. “With cover crops and no-till practices, producers are protecting local water quality and building a more resilient soil for the future.”
Over the last five years, more than 250 producers in the watershed received the cover crop incentive through the Rural Water Quality Program. Under the program, priority is given to erosion-prone fields adjacent to watercourses or wetlands, and areas that are susceptible to wind erosion. Fields that are tile drained or in wellhead protection areas are also considered.
Applications for the cover crop program can be submitted now for payment in spring 2021. The incentive rates vary by municipality with maximum payments ranging between $1,000 and $3,000.
Financial assistance is also available for other beneficial management practices that protect water quality. The list of eligible projects varies by county, but most include projects like erosion control structures, tree planting, well decommissions, manure storages and fencing to exclude livestock from watercourses.
The GRCA delivers the Rural Water Quality Program initiative on behalf of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and counties of Wellington, Brant, Dufferin, Oxford and Haldimand.
More information is available about the cover crop program by contacting the GRCA at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 519-621-2761 and asking to speak to a conservation specialist. To learn more about the broad range of services and grants that are available through the GRCA visit www.grandriver.ca/ruralwater.