excess nutrients originate from many sources, including fertilizers
used in agriculture, on golf courses and on suburban lawns; erosion
of nutrient-rich soils; and discharges from industrial and municipal
sewage treatment plants.
"Everyone - people in urban and suburban areas, rural areas and in
agriculture - has contributed to the problem of nutrient runoff.
Everyone now has the opportunity to be part of the solution," said
Director of Natural and Environmental Resources at the Illinois Farm
Bureau® (IFB), Lauren Lurkins.
Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois EPA and other
stakeholders have been working over the past year to create a
strategy to reduce nutrient losses in the state. At the Illinois
Agricultural Legislative Roundtable, held on June 11, 2014 in
Bloomington, Ill., the subjects of water quality and nutrient loss
reduction in Illinois were tackled.
than start from ground zero, Illinois’s strategybuilds on existing
voluntary conservation and nutrient management programs, according
to Lurkins. Some of those existing programs have been developed by
Illinois agricultural groups, including the Illinois Council on Best
Management Practices (CBMP) and the Illinois Nutrient Research and
Education Council (NREC). IFB has voting positions on the Boards of
Directors for both CBMP and NREC, and actively represents its
members in both organizations.
component of the strategy is CBMP’s cover crop initiative, in which
regional specialists will work with farmers to educate them on the
use of cover crops to utilize excess nutrients, thereby preventing
nutrient runoff into streams. These specialists will also work with
community colleges to develop networks of cover crop expertise.
Other voluntary practices contemplated by the strategy include
promotion of the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship (Right Source, right
Rate, Right Time, Right Place) in CBMP’s Keep it for the Crop
program, precision technology, soil conservation structures and
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Illinois farmers also currently pay an assessment of 75 cents
per ton of bulk fertilizer sold in the state to support NREC,
which funds research and education programs to address the role
of nutrients in enhancing Illinois crop production while
minimizing environmental impact. For the 2014 program year,
$2.5 million was available for research and education projects.
"For farmers, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach. Farmers now
have the opportunity to learn which tools and approaches are
available to them, and then implement those that will work best on
their farm," said Lurkins.
A draft of the nutrient loss reduction strategy for Illinois will go
up for public comment beginning in mid-July. The state strategy
currently includes a provisional target to reduce overall nitrogen
usage by 15 percent and overall phosphorus usage by 25 percent by
[Text received; ILLINOIS FARM BUREAU]