Illinois Farm Bureau Natural & Environmental Resources

2017 End of Year Report

As we look back over the last year, we want to say thank you for allowing us to do this job. Environmental issues are complicated. They’re long term. And we often find ourselves having to use new approaches or strategies to get to a good outcome for you. We’re never short on challenges, but luckily we don’t have to tackle them alone. We do it with you and for you.

Read about our 2017 accomplishments by clicking on the image below.

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Leadership, innovation reflected in IFB stewardship grants
18 projects will feature plenty of new practices and new partners.
By Kay Shipman

County Farm Bureaus and their partners will expand nutrient stewardship work, going below the surface in several cases, thanks to Illinois Farm Bureau Nutrient Stewardship Grants.

Last week, IFB awarded its third round of Nutrient Stewardship Grants, totaling $100,000, for 18 projects to be implemented by 20 county Farm Bureaus and their partners around the state.

“This year’s grants step up the level of engagement of farmer members,” said IFB Director Jeff Kirwan of Mercer County. Kirwan chairs the state Nutrient Education Research Council and served on the IFB grant selection committee. “Illinois farmers are taking ownership of the future of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. We are starting to design and develop projects that allow us to test new ideas. We are creating new ways to reduce losses on our own farms.”

The 2018 projects demonstrate county Farm Bureaus’ creativity and willingness to lead on local nutrient issues.

“We are looking for county Farm Bureaus to provide leadership for the program. This includes board members, elected leaders and active members who take a role,” explained IFB Director Larry Miller of Franklin County, who served on the grant selection committee.

Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB associate director of environmental and natural resources, applauded county Farm Bureaus for their originality. “We are really excited for the innovation shown in these year-three projects,” Ramsey said. “Our members have great ideas, and county Farm Bureaus are taking the lead on nutrient loss. They are trying new practices and forming new partnerships in their local communities to tackle this important issue.”

Farm Bureau grant recipients include: Bureau, Clinton, Franklin, Fulton, Hancock, Jo Daviess, Kane, Knox, Lee, Livingston, McDonough, McLean, Pike, Stark, Washington, Wayne, Winnebago-Boone and a tri-county partnership of Henry, Mercer and Rock Island.

Selected projects include:

- Bureau County Farm Bureau will partner with Nutrient Stewardship of Northern Illinois to promote nutrient management and local practice results through year-round, weekly water sample tests. The project includes a summer field day and seminar.

- Clinton County Farm Bureau will work with many conservation, livestock, ag industry and academic partners to compare four cropping systems involving manure and cover crops, and highlight the impacts on soil and nutrient losses. Information will be shared with farmers, landowners, teachers and the public.

- Franklin County Farm Bureau will partner with county conservation agencies and the University of Illinois Extension in a demonstration comparing local common fertilizer practices to research-based application rates on cooperating farmers’ fields.

- Fulton County Farm Bureau will partner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to demonstrate recycling of drainage water to improve usage efficiency of water and nutrients, and to reduce nutrient losses. Field days will be held at the demonstration site.

- Hancock County Farm Bureau will work with conservation agencies and groups to present four roundtable discussions featuring local speakers on four relevant conservation topics.

- Henry, Mercer and Rock Island County Farm Bureaus will partner with the Henry County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and local FS member company on a conservation field day, featuring cover crops and the installation of a woodchip bioreactor.

- Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau will work with Stephen County Service Co., Extension and other conservation partners to continue a cover crop plot study that will include manure applications.

- Kane County Farm Bureau is partnering with the county Forest Preserve, and several other local government and conservation agencies to install and demonstrate a woodchip bioreactor.

Related: Kane County farmers turn to bioreactors in hopes of avoiding removing farmland from production. Read more here.

- Knox County Farm Bureau will work with the county Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to host a saturated buffer field day. A special focus will be monitoring results from a year-old local saturated buffer, a 2016 grant project, and its influence on nutrient losses.

- Lee County Farm Bureau will partner with Sauk Valley Community College on mobile soil testing laboratories to be used on the college’s new ag research fields and offered for use on local farmers’ fields. Collective information will be highlighted at a 2018 field day.

- Livingston County Farm Bureau will work with local conservation partners to provide an on-farm demonstration plot of cereal rye practices preceding a soybean crop. Information will be shared during a conservation field day.

- McDonough County Farm Bureau will continue a water testing project focused on nutrient and soil losses to help participating farmers analyze stewardship practice impacts.

- McLean County Farm Bureau will partner with the local SWCD and local ag retailers on a water testing project to help participating farmers mitigate nutrient losses.

- Pike County Farm Bureau will work with local levee and drainage and watershed districts, John Wood Community College, Prairieland FS and others to complete a water quality study in the Sny Levee District. On-farm nutrient stewardship work will be integrated into local field days and other outreach.

- Stark County Farm Bureau will work with the county NRCS to install a woodchip bioreactor and plan a bioreactor field day at the site.

- Washington County Farm Bureau will work with the local SWCD to test soil and water samples for nutrients, especially phosphorous, from participating farmers. The goal is to provide comparisons of conservation practice costs, nutrient savings and cover crops.

- Wayne County Farm Bureau will work with Wabash Service Co. and Wabash Valley College on two nutrient loss inhibitor demonstration field plots. Information will be shared during a summer field day.

- Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau will partner with Conserv FS for an on-farm nitrogen movement study. Farmers and a local crops specialist will receive information to make better nitrogen decisions based on local soil types, crop rotation and fertilizer products.

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Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program Renewed for 2018

The Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors has – for the third year – committed $100,000 to the Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program for fiscal year 2018.

This year we would like to focus on projects that allow our County Farm Bureau members, committees, leadership, and staff to lead the direction and outcomes of these projects. Illinois Farm Bureau environmental staff will serve as partners on the projects and will assist with the subject matter and help guide projects towards meeting our statewide goals. Local collaboration is important, but we would like to fund projects that are directly impactful and helpful to our farmer members.

The application period is now closed. Grant awards will be announced in December.

Nutrient Stewardship Grants Awarded for 2017
December 19, 2016

Grant Counties smIllinois Farm Bureau Board renewed its commitment to advance nutrient management through local solutions and partnerships with announcement of the second Nutrient Stewardship Grant recipients. “Great partnerships were fostered in year one and we continue to see great partnerships in year two,” said Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB associate director of environmental and natural resources.

An IFB selection committee awarded grants for 18 projects to be implemented in 22 counties by county Farm Bureaus and their partners around the state. IFB awarded $100,000 in total; however, previous recipients were required to surface matching funds and/or in-kind contributions to stretch grant funding. “We saw a lot of good ideas and different ways the state can address the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy,” IFB Director Jeff Kirwan of Mercer County said of the proposals. “Solving nutrient loss issues will take a concentrated effort by everyone,” added IFB Director Larry Miller of Franklin County. “We were pleased with the wide range of proposals and programs initiated by county Farm Bureaus and their partners. We look forward to programs that help our farmers continue working with the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.”

Ramsey noted the selection committee faced a challenging decision because county Farm Bureau proposals were very different and reflected the different nutrient management needs, soils and farming practices in each county. “We wanted projects to be different because we want them to provide the help counties need,” she said.

Grant awardees include:

  • Bureau County Farm Bureau will continue to partner with the Northern Illinois Nutrient Management group focusing on the right sources, rates, times and places of nutrient applications. Field signs will denote best management practices.
  • Christian County Farm Bureau will work with the University of Illinois Extension, county Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on nutrient and water research on the U of I’s Dudley Smith farm, which is part of a study funded by NREC.
  • Clinton County Farm Bureau again will work multiple conservation agencies and groups, Extension, livestock organizations, local farmers and Kaskaskia Community College to compare different cropping systems with manure and cover crops. A test plot of cover crop varieties is planned along with additional manure/livestock projects.
  • Effingham County Farm Bureau will partner with a cover crop specialist and the county SWCD and NRCS to focus on soil health via cover crops. Measurements and information will be collected on fields with and without cover crop histories. Information will be distributed at a field day.
  • Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau will join Kankakee County Farm Bureau and partner with local SWCDs and the Kankakee Community College ag department. The tri-county nutrient stewardship project will focus on confidential water testing for farmers.
  • Henry County Farm Bureau will promote cover crops through an adopt-an-acre project with local farmers who grow cover crops.
  • Rock Island County Farm Bureau also will work with Henry and Mercer County Farm Bureaus to produce a cover crop roundtable with a group of farmers. A kickoff meeting will launch the project with presentations and group discussions.
  • Jackson County Farm Bureau will partner with the county SWCD, the Kinkaid Area Watershed Project and Kinkaid Reed’s Creek Conservancy District on the installation of a dry dam to fix a large gully near a lake that serves as a public drinking water supply. Dry dam will promote the practice as a demonstration site.
  • Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau will work with Extension, Stephenson Service Co., the county SWCD and local farmers and ag businesses on a cover crop study. Meetings and several field days will focus on a cover crop study of nitrogen use on Greg Thoren’s farm.
  • Livingston County Farm Bureau will join the county SWCD, American Farmland Trust, Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Soil Health Partnership to recruit farmers to try new practices. Data will be collected from the replicated studies and presented at a field day.
  • McDonough County Farm Bureau will partner with Western Illinois University and Key Agriculture Services to study nitrate losses and farming practices and collect data.
  • McLean County Farm Bureau will work with the county SWCD, Illinois State University, ICGA and local ag retailers for water testing in the Lake Evergreen Watershed. Various best management and conservation practices will analyzed.
  • Peoria County Farm Bureau will partner with ICGA, county SWCD and NRCS and U of I Extension to install a bioreactor and host a demonstration day.
  • Piatt County Farm Bureau will work with the county SWCD to provide pH tests of soil samples at monthly farmer workshops.
  • Pike County Farm Bureau with work with local levee and watershed districts, county SWCD, John Wood Community College, Prairieland FS and river associations to evaluate nitrate concentrations in the Sny Levee District. Information will be provided through landowner meetings and reports.
  • Sangamon County Farm Bureau will partner with the county SWCD, NREC, ICGA, Lincoln Land Community College, the city utility and a Lake Springfield Watershed committee to help women landowners better understand nutrient issues and recommended management practices. A seminar will be offered for that target audience.
  • Stark County Farm Bureau will join the county SWCD, ICGA and AgView FS to provide a workshop and trade show featuring conservation and management practices. Participants may receive incentive vouchers.
  • Wayne County Farm Bureau will partner with Wabash Valley Service Co. to establish field demonstration plots with nutrient enhancers and loss inhibitors. Data will be provided to farmers, FS team members and the public.

2016 Water Quality Report
December 3, 2016

Wreport Tn Illinois Farm Bureau has released a 2016 Water Quality Report highlighting activities focused on improving water quality and implementing the state’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, including details about the Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program, the Iowa Nutrient Issues Tour, and plans for doing even more into 2017.


IAA Board Discusses their Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategies
November 14, 2016

The IAA Board of Directors is committed to achieving the goals outlined in the state’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Not only have they dedicated funding for programs designed to help farmers implement new practices, but they are implementing good nutrient management right on their own farms. Check out the videos below!

Jeff Kirwan

Jeff Kirwan, Mercer County, uses cover crops to scavenge nutrients and prevent erosion:

Michele Aavang

Michele Aavang, McHenry County, implements good fertilizer management with manure and split application of N:


David Erickson, Knox County, discusses his no-till soybeans:

Chad Schutz

Chad Schutz, Greene County, shows off his cover crops:

Illinois statewide partnership launched to demonstrate and investigate 4R nutrient stewardship practices
October 17, 2016

4R4UA statewide partnership between Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois county Farm Bureaus, GROWMARK, and FS companies will demonstrate and investigate 4R nutrient stewardship practices at the local level. The 4R field demonstration program, entitled 4R4U (pronounced 4R for you), is a pilot program with hopes for a multi-year partnership to bring added use, awareness, and knowledge on nutrient stewardship via the 4R approach. The 4R approach involves using the right source of nutrient, at the right time, at the right rate, and in the right place.

Local test plots will compare common practices to advanced practices on nutrient stewardship. Some of the types of tests include N-rate trials, use of multiple nitrogen applications, stabilizer utilizations, no-till planting, cover crops, and soil samples.

Illinois Farm Bureau and GROWMARK are providing funds for the project, while FS companies and county Farm Bureaus work together to carry out the 4R field demonstration strategy at a local level.

This winter, each partnership will put a strategy in place with field demonstration days in the spring and summer of 2017. Information will be compiled on an ongoing basis.

4R4U partnerships include:

  • Gold Star FS, Inc. and Mercer County Farm Bureau
  • M&M Service Company and Macoupin County Farm Bureau
  • Prairieland FS, Inc., Scott County Farm Bureau, and Pike County Farm Bureau
  • Heritage FS, Inc., Kankakee County Farm Bureau, and  Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau
  • Evergreen FS, Inc. and Macon County Farm Bureau
  • Stephenson Service Company and Stephenson County Farm Bureau
  • Southern FS, Inc. and Jackson County Farm Bureau
  • Gateway FS, Inc. and Randolph County Farm Bureau
  • Christian County Farmers Supply Co. and Christian County Farm Bureau
  • South Central FS, Inc., Moultrie County Farm Bureau, and Bond County Farm Bureau
  • Piatt County Service Company and Piatt County Farm Bureau

County Farm Bureaus involved in the partnerships will work with neighboring counties to publicize events.

Find your watershed!
September 26, 2016

Did you know you live in a watershed?

What’s a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land where all the water that falls in it drains to a common outlet. It is important to know which watershed you live and work in, to better understand your impact on the water quality downstream. Watersheds can be as small as the size of a footprint to as large as the Mississippi River basin, which includes regions of 31 states that all drain to the Mississippi River, which drains to the Gulf of Mexico. Meaning if you live in Illinois, South Dakota, or Tennessee, the water leaving your yard or farm all makes it way to the same place, eventually.

Watershed _tnClick on this detailed map to see the major watersheds of Illinois.

Learn more about your watershed here:

Watersheds are important as we think about Illinois’ Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. The US Environmental Protection agency wants everyone to think about their watershed and work to make it better. Some watershed groups exist around Illinois, but many more are needed. Watershed groups can create “Watershed Action Plans” – grassroots efforts to improve water quality – which may also make them eligible for funding opportunities for things like agricultural practices that improve nutrient stewardship and water quality.

Check out this site to see if your watershed has a Plan:

Interested in starting a Watershed Group in your area? Contact Lauren Lurkins or Lyndsey Ramsey for more information, and check out this Guide for Developing a Watershed Action Plan:

Iowa Nutrient Issues Tour, August 8-10
August 22, 2016

Issuestourgroupshot 1Earlier this month, IFB took 15 Illinois farmers and 5 staff members to Iowa to discuss our shared nutrient stewardship and water quality issues, and to learn from Iowa about how they are implementing their Nutrient Reduction Strategy, released two years before Illinois’ strategy.

By visiting Iowa, we learned how collaboration between ag and non-ag partners can work. We visited demonstration farms to see both traditional and non-traditional best management practices for reducing nutrient loss. We learned about unique partnerships that pulled in additional funding for farmers. And we visited with Mayors and city officials from the city of Cedar Rapids, where the drinking water supply is taking a collaborative approach with the farming community to improve water quality.

Read more about the trip from FarmWeekNow:

Trip participants included:

President Guebert
Director, Jeff Kirwan
Director, Larry Miller
Stephen Anderson - Shelby County
Chad Bell - Mercer County
Terry Boydstun - Knox County
Rollo Burnett - Massac County
Dean Campbell - Randolph County
Larry Dallas - Douglas County
Michael Ganschow - Bureau County
Ted Huber - Coles County
Marty McManus - Rock Island County
Jeff O'Connor - Kankakee County
Cliff Schuette - Clinton County
Steve Turner - Cass County

Staff included:

Mark Gebhards, IFB
Lauren Lurkins, IFB
Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB
Kay Shipman, IFB

Julie Armstrong, NREC

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Nutrient Stewardship Grant Renewed for 2017

The Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors has once again committed $100,000 to the Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program for fiscal year 2017. This program is meant to support farmers in their efforts to address the water quality challenges facing Illinois.

A key component of the program is collaboration with partners at the local level. We were encouraged by the partnerships formed during this last year and recognize that in this time of fiscal constraint in Illinois, this program fills a void and allows for progress on this issue when farmers and other groups work together.

Applications should come from County Farm Bureaus. The deadline to submit applications is Monday, October 31st. We are happy to discuss and help with project ideas. Contact Lyndsey Ramsey (, (309) 531-1117) with any questions.

February 8, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Twenty-nine Illinois county Farm Bureaus have been awarded grants under the first-ever Nutrient Stewardship Grant program. Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) has awarded the grants – totaling more than $100,000 – to help promote local nutrient stewardship, soil health and water quality projects.

“We’re beyond talking about nutrient management and moving to actually help our members adopt and implement strategies and practices,” said Lauren Lurkins, director of environmental and natural resources, IFB. “We’re trying to move the needle, and these grants will help us do just that.”  

Projects tackle nutrient issues relevant to local needs, soils, and farming practices, with the ultimate goal of achieving nutrient loss reduction goals under the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS).

Announced by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in July 2015, the NLRS calls for a creation of an Agricultural Water Quality Partnership Forum to “steer outreach and education efforts to help farmers address nutrient loss.”

The plan tasks wastewater treatment plants, urban areas and agricultural areas with reducing the state’s phosphorous load by 25 percent and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15 percent by 2025. These actions will assist in addressing water quality problems in Illinois rivers, lakes and streams. The eventual target is a 45 percent reduction in the loss of these nutrients to the Mississippi River.

“Our county Farm Bureau leaders and staff are excited and empowered,” Lurkins said. “It’s wonderful to be a part of this critical effort.”

A complete list of county Farm Bureau receiving grants – along with partner organizations and project descriptions — can be found in the attached document.

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 400,000 and a voting membership of more than 82,000. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.

Final Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy for Illinois has been released!
July, 2015


Nlrs -logo

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) have officially released the final version of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (Strategy) for Illinois. Download the full Strategy here.

The Strategy outlines a framework for reducing nutrient losses to improve Illinois water quality and the quality of water leaving the state and making its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  

Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) worked with a wide range of stakeholders, including other agricultural groups, wastewater treatment plant representatives, and environmental groups, to develop the Strategy through a process led by the IEPA and the IDOA. Agriculture will continue working to address losses from our family farms, but everyone—whether from rural, suburban or urban areas—will have a role to play.  

IFB supports the Strategy because education, outreach, and voluntary, incentive-based best management practices (BMPs) will continue to be the primary tools for addressing nutrient losses from Illinois farm fields.  

The focus is on reducing nutrient losses to the environment, not on reducing nutrient use for Illinois agriculture. For agricultural non‐point sources, voluntary implementation of BMPs is expected to build on efforts already underway by farmers throughout the state and in watersheds with existing nutrient management plans. It is expected that the implementation of BMPs will increase with additional outreach, education, and incentives. 

This is Illinois agriculture’s opportunity to prove that voluntary conservation does work!! 

IFB is a founding member of the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (C-BMP), a coalition of agribusiness and agricultural organizations. C-BMP encourages the adoption of BMPs to protect and enhance natural resources and the sustainability of agriculture in Illinois. It will also serve as an important resource for nutrient management information for farmers. For more information on the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and the “Roadshow” events where the Strategy was introduced to farmers around the state, click here

Visit the Illinois EPA website devoted to the Strategy, located here.

Illinois Farmers highlight some of the conservation practices they use to reduce nutrient runoff.

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Mark Tuttle, farmer from DeKalb County, discusses about his cover crops.

Garry Niemeyer talks about timing his nutrient applications so that his crops in Sangamon County utilize nutrients when they need it most.

David Wessel discusses continuous no-till, soil sampling, split application of N, and other practices he uses on his farm ground in Cass County.

Kris Reynolds discusses his cereal rye cover crop in Montgomery County.

March 12, 2015 Webinar
Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy: What is it?  What does it mean for you?
Lauren Lurkins, Director of Natural and Environment Resources

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