BLOOMINGTON Ill. The Illinois Farm Bureau has awarded grants for the seventh consecutive year to promote local nutrient and soil health stewardship and water quality projects. The Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program has awarded grants to 25 Illinois county Farm Bureaus.
IFB will also launch a Pollinator Conservation Grant Program, to support monarch butterfly and pollinator research and recognize the need for more farmer-focused materials and programs.
The Illinois Farm Bureau has gathered together all its stakeholders to make significant investments into programs and practices that will reduce nutrient runoff in Illinois’ waterways. This is a long-term effort that addresses a complex problem. Farmers want to continue building upon the body research and applying new knowledge in their fields and farm practices. Raelynn Parmely (IFB environmental program manager) said that this is a long-term effort.
We are also focusing our efforts on expanding pollinator plots in the state and increasing community awareness about their importance.
The IFB board has contributed nearly $2.4 million to nutrient management efforts since 2015. This includes $850,000 to the Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program.
This investment was focused on four priority zones:
Education and outreach to landowners, farmers, and the general population.
Supporting research on best management practices to reduce nutrient losses from agricultural fields.
Supporting farmer implementation efforts throughout the state.
Demonstrating progress towards the long-term goals set out by the NLRS
IFB will distribute $150,000 worth of Nutrient Stewardship Grants to the new fiscal year and $25,000 worth of Pollinator Conservation Grants. Thirteen county Farm Bureaus collaborate on nine projects for pollinators, and 25 counties Farm Bureaus work together on 21 projects for nutrient stewardship.
The Illinois Farm Bureau’s Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program forms the foundation of our NLRS work. The program supports a broad range of projects that meet the information needs of farmers and county Farm Bureaus. Lauren Lurkins, IFB director for environmental policy, said, “I am proud of the seven year track record that the program has achieved with over 120 projects in more 70 Illinois counties.”
2022 Grant projects include hosting field days in spring and autumn to promote conservation practices, new research findings, setting up new and expanding existing pollinator plots and research partnerships, including incorporating cover crops, conducting soil sampling, exploring manure management, creating publications, and hosting a series watershed planning meetings.
IFB is active in supporting local Farm Bureaus through the programs. It also supports partners to create projects that address farmer needs.
Pollinator Conservation Grant recipient County Farm Bureaus and their projects include the following:
Carroll and Stephenson will collaborate with a local community college in order to plant a pollinator patch and distribute materials at a college-sponsored field day.
Clinton will create pollinator habitat near the cover crop plot and investigate habitat potential as a buffer against invasive species.
Cook will place signs in an existing pollinator garden to register it as a Monarch Way Station. He will also distribute materials to farmers and partners at Lincoln Park Zoo to inform others about what farmers are doing.
DeWitt will plant and involve community partners in a pollinator gardening project to increase awareness and interest.
Kane will expand an existing pollinator plot, and will organize community outreach events at this site.
La Salle will set up a pollinator gardening area at the county Farm Bureau.
Lee, Bureau and Marshall-Putnam will create a program to sell pollinator seed at a subsidised cost to members and to distribute signs for pollinator fields.
McHenry and a local college will team up to create two types of pollinator habitats, one highly visible and one less visible in strips. They will be compared to determine which type is best for each management strategy.
Pike-Scott will design permanent signs at the New Philadelphia Pollinator Site to promote plot sponsors as well as pollinator practices.
Farm Bureaus in Nutrient Stewardship Grant recipients from counties are listed below.
Bureau will establish a new research alliance while continuing to collect data, develop tools, and share preliminary results from the previous years.
Clinton will continue to implement its manure and cover crop management project, host education and outreach opportunities including a field day, as well as produce a data booklet.
Cook will promote the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (Greater Chicago) EQ Biosolid, EQ Compost programs. He will also establish a new partnership for research on struvite applications to Cook County farms.
Fulton will host a field-day at the MWRDs Fulton County research station.
Calhoun and Greene are working together with a local certified crop advisor to create a cover crop and plot with education and outreach. Farmers will be able to ask questions about soil function, weed and nutrient management.
Hancock will host an event for Young Leaders on key environmental issues that impact Illinois agriculture. There will also be opportunities to share with them.
Jo Daviess will host several research trials, including those that involve cover crops, nitrogen management, and water quality. Information will be shared at several education events and outreach events, including a field-day.
Knox will be coordinating a Young Leader-led cover crops program with the local FS in order to plant a 20 acre cover crop plot per township. The project includes a field trip and the creation of a booklet that will contain preliminary findings.
Lake, along with local stakeholder partnerships, will evaluate the efficacy of biochar to reduce phosphorus levels in Channel and Catherine lakes. A future field day is planned.
La Salle will host an event again to provide information to local elected officials about Illinois agriculture and conservation practices.
Marshall-Putnam will establish the second year for a cover crop plot that demonstrates differences between cover crops species. Information will be shared with farmers at a field day.
McDonough will host a field trip to the site of the woodchip bioreactor, which was built in 2021.
McHenry will continue to promote education and outreach regarding a woodchip bioreactor that was installed in McHenry County Conservation District land, 2020.
McLean will create a video about a new watershed plan, and host a Lake Bloomington watershed education and outreach event.
Knox and Mercer will host more watershed meetings in support a 319 grant application by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the Mississippi north central watershed.
Piatt will join Macon for a field trip and will support other watershed planning efforts in Lake Decatur.
Shelby will host a field-day on drainage water management research for the county.
Mason, Cass-Morgan and Tazewell will continue collecting data and developing a multifaceted groundwater monitor project.
Warren-Henderson will continue a multi-year nitrogen management program and host a winter meeting for results.
Washington will continue working on a cover crops project. Plans include developing educational materials, hosting a field day, and organizing a summer tour.
Wayne will continue field trials to demonstrate fertilizer efficiency and economic benefits compared with traditional applications. The field day will include the sharing of the results.
All nutrient stewardship activities will be conducted with the ultimate aim of reducing nutrient loss under the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released the NLRS in July 2015. It calls for wastewater treatment plants, urban and agricultural areas to reduce the state’s phosphorous load by 25%, and its nitrate/nitrogen load by 15% by 2025. The ultimate goal is to reduce the Mississippi River’s loss of these nutrients by 45%.