Stewardship grants expand local involvement in nutrient issues

Illinois Farm Bureau awards $100,000 in grants for fourth consecutive year.

By Kay Shipman

The focus remains local in the latest round of Illinois Farm Bureau Nutrient Stewardship Grants. IFB announced $100,000 in grants to 19 projects to be implemented by 30 county Farm Bureaus and many local partners around the state.

Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB associate director of environmental and natural resources, described the fourth year of grant projects as expanding involvement of local farmer members, addressing as many local nutrient concerns as possible and adapting to local conditions.

“The beauty of being locally driven is what is needed in 2019 may be different from what was needed in 2016, and this program can help address those challenges,” Ramsey said. “As we think of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, we think of education and outreach, research, implementation and documentation. These projects show action in all of those categories.”

For the fourth consecutive year, IFB awarded $100,000 in grants to county Farm Bureaus for their use in expanding nutrient loss reduction projects. Nineteen projects were funded this year. For the fourth consecutive year, IFB awarded $100,000 in grants to county Farm Bureaus for their use in expanding nutrient loss reduction projects. Nineteen projects were funded this year.

IFB Director Jeff Kirwan, chair of the state Nutrient Education Research Council, noted the projects’ collaborative nature and how each dovetails with others to address common goals of the state’s nutrient strategy.

“It’s a puzzle that we’re trying to put together to meet the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction strategy,” Kirwan said.

Grant projects also highlight different, critical needs, such as manure management and water quality testing, and foster unique partnerships, including community colleges and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Kirwan added. 

IFB Director Michele Aavang, IFB liaison to the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices, emphasized the variety of county nutrient projects and was encouraged by the number of involved county Farm Bureaus across the state.

“We’ve known all along that farmers are conservationists and do care about nutrient loss and management,” Aavang said. “It’s good to see the diversity of projects proposed.”       

Farm Bureau grant recipients include the counties of: Bureau, Champaign, Clinton, Edwards, Crawford, Hamilton, Gallatin, Richland, Lawrence, Wabash, Wayne, White, Effingham, Franklin, Fulton, Henry, Mercer, Rock Island, Jo Daviess, Knox, LaSalle, Mason, Cass, Morgan, Tazewell, McDonough, McLean, Menard, Stark, Warren, Henderson, Winnebago and Boone.

Selected projects include:

 - Bureau County Farm Bureau will partner with Ag View FS, Crop Production Services, Monsanto and John Deere to promote nutrient management and year-round weekly water sampling. A summer field day and seminar are planned.

 - Champaign County Farm Bureau will work with the county Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to host six seminars and related field days, showcasing conservation practices on farms.

 - Clinton County Farm Bureau will work with many conservation, livestock, ag industry and academic partners on cropping systems involving manure and cover crops. Farmers will be offered water testing. Information will be shared at a field day and through outreach.  

 - Farm Bureaus in Crawford, Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, Wayne and White will partner with Wabash Valley Service Co. and Wabash Valley Community College (WVCC) to study cover crop mixes and discuss precision agriculture, cover crops and the Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources Program for southeast Illinois.

 - Effingham County Farm Bureau will work with the county SWCD and University of Illinois Extension on a field day and seminar about available practices related to the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS).

 - Franklin County Farm Bureau will partner with county conservation agencies and U of I Extension to compare common local fertilizer practices to research-based application rates on cooperating farmers’ fields.

 - Fulton County Farm Bureau will work with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Ecosystem Exchange Services, the county SWCD and U of I to demonstrate drainage water recycling. Field days showing conservation practices are planned.

 - Henry, Mercer and Rock Island County Farm Bureaus will work with the county Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Gold Star FS on a conservation field day, featuring cover crops, soil health and livestock management.

 - Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau will work with the county SWCD, Stephenson Service Co., U of I Extension and Soil Health Partnership to continue a cover crop plot study, including soil and nitrogen use impacts.

 - Knox County Farm Bureau will work with the county Young Leaders, West Central FS and cooperating farmers to plant 20 cover crop acres per township. Soil tests will be conducted throughout the season.   

 - LaSalle County Farm Bureau will partner with the National Corn Growers, NRCS and SWCD on a public field day, featuring practices that mitigate ag runoff and flooding.

 - Mason, Cass-Morgan and Tazewell County Farm Bureaus will work with Northwater Consulting to study nutrient transport and explore management practices on irrigated land.

 - McDonough County Farm Bureau will work with the county SWCD, Purdue University and Western Illinois University to host a meeting featuring a Purdue researcher’s cover crop studies.

 - McLean County Farm Bureau will partner with the local SWCD, U of I and local ag retailers to host a seminar on ways to reduce nitrogen losses on tile-drained land.

 - Menard County Farm Bureau will work with Southern Illinois University (SIU) and cooperating farmers to study benefits of water and sediment control basins regarding nutrient runoff and yields.

 - Stark County Farm Bureau will work with the county NRCS, U of I Extension and Black Hawk East Community College to install a saturated buffer and host a field day for farmers and students.

 - Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau will partner with U of I Extension to demonstrate yield and performance variances of different nitrogen sources and timing of applications.

 - Wayne County Farm Bureau, in a separate county project, will work with Wabash Valley Service Co., WVCC, SIU and Verdesian Life Sciences on nutrient loss inhibitor demonstration plots. Information will be shared at a field day.

 - Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau will partner with the county SWCD and U of I Extension to host learning seminars on soil health practices for northern Illinois.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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