Illinois Farm Bureau Announces 2022 Environmental Stewardship Grant Recipients

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December 20, 2021

Andrea Casali
Media Relations Specialist
Illinois Farm Bureau®

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) will keep its steady stream of investment flowing to county Farm Bureaus across the state to support local nutrient loss reduction projects and protect water quality, with additional support going to pollinator conservation.

Twenty-five Illinois county Farm Bureaus have been awarded grants under the Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program. For the seventh consecutive year, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) has awarded the grants to help promote local nutrient stewardship, soil health and water quality projects.

To support pollinator and monarch butterfly work and in recognition of a need for more farmer-focused programs and materials, IFB is also launching a Pollinator Conservation Grant Program. The addition of the Pollinator Conservation Grant Program marks a new collection of Environmental Stewardship Grants being offered by IFB.

“Illinois Farm Bureau has come together across its spectrum of stakeholders to make significant investments in programs and practices that will help reduce nutrient run-off in Illinois waterways. This is a long-haul effort addressing a complex problem where farmers are eager to continue building upon the body of research and applying new knowledge to their fields and farm practices,” said Raelynn Parmely, environmental program manager, IFB. “Additionally, we are focusing concentrated efforts on the expansion of pollinator plots within the state and increasing community outreach on their importance.”

Since 2015, the IFB Board has committed nearly $2.4 million to nutrient stewardship efforts. This includes $850,000 for the Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program.

That investment has focused on four priority areas:

  1. Education and outreach to farmers, landowners and the general public;
  2. Supporting research of best management practices to reduce nutrient loss from agricultural fields;
  3. Supporting farmer implementation efforts across the state; and
  4. Demonstrating progress toward the long-term goals of the NLRS. 

For the new fiscal year, IFB will distribute $150,000 in Nutrient Stewardship Grants and $25,000 in Pollinator Conservation Grants. Thirteen county Farm Bureaus will work together on nine pollinator projects, and 25 county Farm Bureaus will collaborate on 21 nutrient stewardship projects.

“The Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program is a cornerstone of our NLRS work here at Illinois Farm Bureau. The program includes a wide range of projects that reflect the information needs and priorities of our county Farm Bureaus and farmer members. As the staff person leading the program, I am proud of the seven-year track record showing efforts in over 120 projects with more than 70 Illinois counties,” said Lauren Lurkins, director of environmental policy, IFB.

The 2022 grant projects include hosting spring and fall field days to promote conservation practices and new research findings, establishing new and adding to existing pollinator plots, new research partnerships, incorporating cover crops, conducting soil and water sampling, exploring manure management, creating publications and hosting a series of watershed planning meetings.

Through the programs, Illinois Farm Bureau takes an active role to support county Farm Bureaus and local partners to develop projects that address farmer needs for research, education and outreach, and implementing best management practices for nutrient loss reduction and pollinator conservation.

Pollinator Conservation Grant recipient county Farm Bureaus and their projects include:

  • Carroll and Stephenson will work with a local community college to plant a pollinator plot and distribute materials at a college field day.
  • Clinton will establish pollinator habitat near its cover crop plot and study habitat’s potential as a buffer for invasive species.
  • Cook will add signs and register an existing pollinator garden as a Monarch waystation and distribute materials to farmers and partners with Lincoln Park Zoo to educate others on what farmers are doing.
  • DeWitt will plant a pollinator garden and involve community partners to raise interest and awareness.
  • Kane will add to an existing pollinator plot and organize community outreach events at the site.
  • LaSalle will establish a pollinator garden at the county Farm Bureau office.
  • Lee, Bureau, Marshall-Putnam and Stark will develop a program to sell pollinator habitat seed at a subsidized cost to members and distribute pollinator field signs.
  • McHenry will partner with a local community college to develop two types of pollinator habitat, a highly visible one and one less visible in strips. The types will be studied for different establishment and management strategies.
  • Pike-Scott will design and construct permanent signs at the New Philadelphia pollinator site to promote plot sponsors and pollinator practices.

Nutrient Stewardship Grant recipient county Farm Bureaus and their projects include:

  • Bureau will develop a new research partnership while continuing to collect data and develop tools to share preliminary results from the past several years.
  • Clinton will continue to implement its cover crop and manure management project, host education and outreach opportunities, including a field day, and produce a data booklet.
  • Cook will help promote the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago’s EQ Biosolid and EQ Compost programs and develop a new research partnership on struvite applications on Cook County farms.
  • Fulton will host a field day at MWRD’s Fulton County research site.
  • Greene and Calhoun will partner with a local Certified Crop Adviser to develop a cover crop and strip till plot with education and outreach. The focus will be answering farmers’ questions about soil function and weed and nutrient management.
  • Hancock will host a Young Leader event on key environmental issues impacting Illinois agriculture and share opportunities for them to be engaged.
  • Jo Daviess will continue hosting several research trials that include cover crops, nitrogen management and water quality. Information will be shared at several education and outreach events, including a field day.
  • Knox will maintain a Young Leader-led cover crop program with the local FS to plant a 20-acre cover crop plot per township. The project includes a field day and development of a booklet with preliminary findings.
  • Lake, with local stakeholder partners, will evaluate the effectiveness of biochar to reduce phosphorus in Catherine and Channel Lakes. A future field day is planned.
  • LaSalle will again host an event to provide local elected officials information on Illinois agriculture and conservation practices.
  • Marshall-Putnam will implement the second year of a cover crop plot demonstrating differences between cover crop species. A field day will share information with farmers.
  • McDonough will host a field day at site of a woodchip bioreactor installed in 2021.
  • McHenry will continue developing education and outreach about a woodchip bioreactor installed on McHenry County Conservation District land in 2020.
  • McLean will develop a video on a new watershed plan and host a watershed education and outreach event at Lake Bloomington.
  • Mercer and Knox will host more watershed meetings to support an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency 319 grant application in the Mississippi north central watershed.
  • Piatt and Macon will partner on a field day and support other watershed planning efforts in the Lake Decatur area.
  • Shelby will host a field day on drainage water management research in the county.
  • Tazewell, Cass-Morgan and Mason will continue to collect data and develop a multifaceted groundwater monitoring project.
  • Warren-Henderson will maintain a multi-year nitrogen management project and host a winter meeting to discuss results.
  • Washington will continue developing a cover crop project with plans to develop educational materials and host a field day and summer tour.
  • Wayne will continue field trials, demonstrating fertilizer efficiency and economic advantages compared to traditional applications. Results will be shared at a field day.

All nutrient stewardship projects will be conducted with the ultimate goal of achieving nutrient loss reduction under the Illinois NLRS.

The NLRS, which was released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in July 2015, calls for wastewater treatment plants, urban areas and agricultural areas to reduce the state’s phosphorous load by 25 percent and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15 percent by 2025. The eventual target is a 45 percent reduction in the loss of these nutrients to the Mississippi River.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 372,326 and a voting membership of 77,462. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.