“Promoting Soil Health”


The North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Soil Health Cover Crop Grant Program is a newly added program as a result of the 67th Legislative Assembly providing funding for the program. As a conservation program, the program’s primary goal is to protect and enhance soil health statewide. In particular, the program is targeting cropland areas impacted with alkaline soils. NDDA provides cost share to producers via a lottery system. Eligible producers will complete an application for the program lottery with a fall deadline each year. Successful applicants may receive a $15/acre. There will be a 10,000-acre statewide maximum for the first year of the program. For further details on the program, please call Jason Wirtz at the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at 701-220-1628 or email at jwirtz@nd.gov.


Cover Crop Benefits

  • Decrease soil erosion
  • Address and decrease salinity concerns in soils
  • Increase soil organic matter
  • Create and enhance microbial communities in soils
  • Improved nutrient cycling in soils
  • Increase moisture holding capacity in soils
  • Increase infiltration rates in soils
  • Nutrient storage in soils
  • Weed suppressant
  • Crop disease suppressant
  • Forage and feedstock opportunity for livestock
  • Protect water quality
  • Increase yields
  • Cut fertilizer costs and use

Cover Crop Recommendations

  • Early spring seeding for weed suppressant and moisture management-terminated late spring
  • Early spring seeding for forage production-terminated June after forage harvest and plant another crop in June
  • Spring seeding a mulch crop (low growing clover) same time as cash crop
  • Spring seeding of summer grazing forage crop
  • Post-harvest seeding of fall/winter grazing crop
  • Post-harvest seeding in September for winter cover and early hay crop following year (rye, triticale, and winter wheat)

Minimum Qualifications

  • Cover crop must be planted by August 31.
  • Complete online application by December 1.
  • Minimum seeding rates must be followed (please see eligible seed mixes in guidelines and minimum seeding rates in the Midwest Cover Crops Council Cover Crops Decision Tool). Soil Conservation/NRCS county specific suggested plantings are also eligible for this program.
  • No fall tillage allowed if planting is done after harvest of cash crop.
  • Grazing is allowed on cover crops.
  • Must register as a vendor with the state of North Dakota to receive payment.
  • Must soil test before cover crop is planted.
  • Must provide previous crop planted/cropping rotation before cover crop.
  • Must identify cover crop/mix planted.
  • Must provide copy of seed bill in application.

Program Participation Requirements

  1. Conduct field soil test prior to planting cover crop (results must be submitted with application).
  2. Select cover crop to be grown.
  3. Plant cover crop (prior to Aug 31 deadline).
  4. Apply online at NDDA’s Soil Health Cover Crop Grant Program webpage (December 1 deadline).
    • Complete application
    • Copy of soil test
    • Copy of seed bill/receipt
  5. Applications will be selected by lottery; successful applicants will be notified via email.
  6. Successful applicants must register as a vendor with the state of North Dakota and notify program contact by email when completed.
  7. Once all previous steps completed, payment for cost share will be processed after the application deadline each year. Payments may take up to 60 days for processing.


  • Application for the program does not guarantee cost share reimbursement.
  • Applicants will enter a lottery system and successful applicants will be notified by email.
  • Cost share payment of $15 an acre for new applicants.
  • 50-acre cap per applicant per year.
  • 10,000-acre cap the first year
  • Applicants should use Midwest Cover Crops Council Cover Crops Decision Tool to assist in the determination of their cover crop.
  • Applicants in need of further technical assistance for cover crop planting or planning should consult with NRCS, their county Soil Conservation District or the Watershed Program Coordinator in their county.

Eligible Cover Crop/Planting/Mixes

  • Soil Conservation/NRCS county specific suggested plantings are eligible for this program
  • Other eligible cover crop plantings include:
    • Turnips
    • Radishes
    • Cow peas
    • Field peas
    • Dry peas
    • Hairy vetch
    • Sunflowers
    • Millet
    • Sorghum
    • Grazing corn
    • Red clover
  • If cover crop will be planted before May 20, eligible grasses include:
    • Barley
    • Oats
    • Rye
    • Triticale
  • Perennial Grasses and Legumes to address saline areas
    • Alfalfa
    • Western Wheatgrass
    • Intermediate Wheatgrass
    • AC Saltlander

For more information please contact Jason Wirtz at 701-220-1628 or email at jwirtz@nd.gov.

Soil Health Cover Crop Grant Program Contacts

Jason Wirtz

Livestock Development Specialist
600 East Boulevard Ave. Dept. 602 Bismarck, ND 58505
701-220-1628 701-328-2231 or 800-242-7535 jwirtz@nd.gov