Grassland Set-Aside Stewardship Program

Program Highlights

Approximately 540 acres (219 ha) of set-asides are enrolled annually
A total of 14,045 acres (5,684 ha) of set-asides have been established and maintained
$4 million dollars in cost-share payments have been disbursed to local farmers to support this sustainable practice

The Grassland Set-aside Stewardship Program promotes the planting of grassland habitat on agricultural land to improve soil productivity and provide habitat for wildlife. Grassland set-asides are fields planted with grasses and broad-leaved plants that are left to rest for up to 6 years. These grassland fields resemble the historical tall-grass habitats of the estuary prior to it being dyked and drained for agriculture in the late 1800s.

The Grassland Set-aside Program offers a $400/acre cost-share to farmers every year a field is enrolled. The cost-share assists with the challenges and financial constraints that local farmers face when temporarily removing farmland from production. Farmers commonly enroll in the Grassland Set-aside Program to restore degraded land, transition conventional fields into organic production or diversify options for crop rotations.

Grassland set-asides benefit farming and the environment by:

Research we’ve completed to assess the benefits of grassland set-asides can be found under our research library.

Soil of a potato field (left) versus a grassland set-aside (right)