Funded Projects Updates
Lake Springfield Watershed Nitrogen Monitoring
Since 2018 the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices has funded over $20,000 in grants to the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, City Water Light and Power, and the Sangamon County Soil & Water Conservation District to monitor nitrogen levels in Lake Springfield. These funds are responsible for the implementation of 20 nitrogen watch sites, over 300 informational meetings, and the printing and distribution of newsletters and informational materials to farmers, ag retailers and others about the project.
For the 2020 corn crop, IFCA coordinated and performed the application of three nitrogen rate trials inside of the watershed. The information generated from these trials will not only go towards updating the nitrogen rate calculator for the entire central region of the state, but even more specifically, the Lake Springfield specific nitrogen rate, which is part of Illinois’ Nitrogen Rate Calculator website. The results of the LSW N Rate trials are currently being analyzed by Dr. Emerson Nafziger, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and researcher with the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council, and will be shared when they are completed.
Another watershed project that IFCA is participating in is a RCPP titled “Lake Decatur RCPP Water Quality Initiative.” Lake Decatur is a priority watershed that has already spent close to 100 million dollars on a single, multiple-year dredging project. With that in mind, IFCA has been accepted as a partner on this project to coordinate enrollment of 6,500 acres of strip-till within the Lake Decatur watershed. Their involvement with the project will include many facets: one-on-one landowner outreach, training, coordination with partner ag retailers, demonstration and leasing of IFCA strip till equipment, as well as media and industry outreach and events. IFCA's effort to convert conventional tilled acres closest to the lake into strip-till will help reduce runoff of both soil and surface applied nutrients, but also promote a more successful overall system for the integration of cover crops on these acres.
Wadeable Streams and Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategies
The Illinois Farm Bureau requested financial assistance for an amount not to exceed $15,000 to retain Brown and Caldwell to assist a coalition of CBMP members in formulating a public comment in response to the Illinois Nutrient Science Advisory Committee’s proposed numeric nutrient criteria in the context of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. This funding was approved by CBMP at the February Meeting. The comment was filed on April 29, 2019. A decision from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is still pending.
Conservation Practices for Leased Ground
The Illinois Corn Growers Association received a $55,000 grant to create a campaign to increase usage of conservation practices on leased ground. The campaign began in Mid 2020 and is slated to run through 2021. Current results of the program are as follows:
- Direct Mailers: 4,100
- Ag Publications: 135,600 subscriptions (FarmWeek, AgriNews, Prairie Farmer)
- Farm Doc Webinars: 318 unique views
- Social Media Campaigns-FB-Conservation Conversations: 58,000 impressions to 5,200 farmers
- Social Media-FB Lease Addendum Specifically: 20 engagements, 862 people reached
- Twitter: 36 engagements, 2,958 impressions
- U of I website with the lease addendum: 1,481 unique page visits
The Corn Growers Association notes that the program is currently under budget due to the restriction of in-person caused by Covid, but still consider the program a successful return on investment.