News

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2023 EQIP Application Cutoff Date for Otter Lake Source Water Protection Project

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding in Macoupin, Morgan, and Sangamon Counties for the Otter Lake Source Water Protection project through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

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2023 EQIP Application Cutoff Date Set for IL Headwaters Conservation Partnership

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding to control invasive plants in forest stands in east-central Illinois through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS has partnered with the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Headwaters Invasive Plant Partnership (HIPP) to help producers address resource concerns such as water quality and soil health.

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2023 Application Deadline Set for Il Equip Landscape Initiatives

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding for the following Landscape Initiatives throughout the state: Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) and the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

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Illinois Equip 2023 Application Deadline Established

Illinois agricultural producers and forestry managers who want to address or improve natural resources are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Ivan Dozier, Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, announced that January 6, 2023 will be the EQIP application deadline.

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Equip Application Cut-Off Date Set for NW Illinois Driftless Area

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding to help improve fish and wildlife habitat on cropland, forests, streams and prairies in northwestern Illinois through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

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ISAP Conservation Story Map

ISAP’s Conservation Story Map is designed to communicate sustainable agriculture efforts in Illinois and facilitate connections to support healthy soil, clean water, and profitable farms. We encourage you to connect with individuals and businesses listed on the map and invite you to put your own pin on the map!

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Report Reaffirms Need for Contractors to Call Before They Dig

Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the national nonprofit trade association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them and their communities, today announced the findings from its 2021 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report. The annual DIRT Report provides a comprehensive accounting and analysis of damages to buried infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada to help stakeholders understand the current damage landscape and the factors contributing to underground facility damages.

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Wetland Reserve Easement Sign Up for FY 2023

Ivan Dozier, State Conservationist, announced the application period for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Agricultural Conservation Easement Program - Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE). The purpose of the Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) program is to help landowners enhance and protect habitat for wetland wildlife on their lands, reduce impacts from flooding, recharge groundwater, provide outdoor recreation, and increase habitat for migratory waterfowl.

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Ag Land Conservation Easements with NRCS & Entities

Funding is now available for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agriculture Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) This program provides an opportunity for landowners to place land into an easement while continuing to produce an agricultural commodity.

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NRCS: 2023 RCPP Application Cutoff Date for Working Lands, Water, and Wildlife Partnership

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding for the Working Lands, Water and Wildlife Partnership throughout Illinois. Illinois NRCS has partnered with The Conservation Fund to help producers address resource concerns such as inadequate habitat for wildlife, water quality, and long-term protection of farmland.

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Flipping the Conservation Conversation

Does the soil health narrative need to change in Illinois? Stacy Zuber, NRCS soil health specialist for Illinois, says yes. Her take: We need to change the soil health conversation, or many Illinois farmers will be watching from the sidelines.

Although Zuber is an Illinois native, she spent several years working on postdoctoral research in Indiana and Missouri.

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Tips for Improving the Water Quality Performance of Conservation Drainage Practices

When designing a conservation drainage practice, did you know that you can improve its water quality performance by picking a certain pipe material?

Saturated bufferswoodchip denitrifying bioreactors and phosphorus removal structures are conservation drainage practices aimed at reducing nutrient concentration in subsurface drainage discharge. One way to improve the performance of these practices is to treat a higher volume of drainage water by picking a certain pipe material.

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A More Efficient Approach to Water Quality: Batch and Build

Keegan Kult, Executive Director of the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), joins Jamie to talk about their latest initiatives, including Batch and Build, which improves water quality an entire watershed at a time.

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Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership Publishes Cover Crop Incentive Directory

– Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership (ISAP) is excited to announce the publication of the first Cover Crop Incentive Directory for Illinois. The directory aims to provide a clear comparison of several programs that offer payment incentives to Illinois farmers for growing cover crops.

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USDA Expands its Post-Application Coverage Endorsement for Conservation-Minded Corn Farmers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that it has expanded its Post-Application Coverage Endorsement (PACE) insurance option for corn farmers who “split-apply” nitrogen to include most counties in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin where non-irrigated corn is insurable. 

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Earth-Packed Tire Walls Prove as Structurally Sound as Concrete

Australian researchers have analyzed the structural properties of walls made from end-of-life car tires packed with dirt, giving engineers some figures to work with and making a well-known upcycling technique available to the construction industry.

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Pritzker Administration Secures $13.3 Million In New Funding to Support Conservation Planning

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced today the approval of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) and Conservation Planning Assistance grant agreement. 

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Water Resources Panel Points to Complex Tangle of Challenges

Illinois water issues are legion. They are pressing. And those who deal with those issues face serious challenges meeting them.

Rapidly shifting science, a legacy of underfunded agencies not suited to the task of rapid change, a population reluctant to engage on many of the issues, and an environment that is changing too fast complicate all the other elements.

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USDA to Invest $15 Million in Innovative Projects for Climate Smart Agriculture Urban Ag. & Addressing Invasive Species

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will invest $15 million this year for the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Classic program. Through CIG, grantees work to address our nation's water quality, water quantity, air quality, soil health and wildlife habitat challenges, all while supporting agricultural production.

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And the Battles Continue Over Water We Do Have - Think WOTUS

The Trump administration’s proposed new definition of “waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act is either a radical policy shift that misinterprets Supreme Court precedent and will leave up to 70 percent of tributaries and half the nation’s wetlands unprotected, or it’s a constitutionally valid approach to regulating the nation’s waters that preserves the states’ lead role over water pollution control and land use planning.

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Congress Passes Record Conservation Investement

The Inflation Reduction Act includes approximately $1 billion for conservation technical assistance, which allows NRCS and conservation districts across the country to get boots on the ground to support producers implement conservation. 

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ADMC Co-founder Charlie Schafer Inducted into the International Drainage Hall of Fame

ADMC members had a big presence at the 11th International Drainage Symposium, but none bigger than Charlie Schafer, Chairman of the ADMC Board and President of Agri Drain Corp, who was inducted into the International Drainage Hall of Fame as part of the 2021/2022 class.

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Barriers to Adoption of Conservation Drainage Practices

Advances in the science of conservation drainage systems can allow producers to meet their water management needs while delivering on economic, environmental, and sustainability goals. But despite the proven benefits of conservation drainage practices, producers have yet to demand the practices on a wide enough basis to make a meaningful impact.

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Outlook for 2022 Farm Income Up 15% Over 2021

The Agriculture Department is significantly increasing its farm earning forecast for 2022, estimating net cash farm income will reach its highest level in a decade due to the booming prices for crops and animal products.

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Construction Spending Slips in July

Total construction spending decreased by 0.4 percent in July as spending on new houses and apartments tumbled, overshadowing a pickup in private nonresidential and public construction, according to an analysis the Associated General Contractors of America released today of federal spending data.

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NACD Announces $15 Million in New Technical Assistance Grants

The Technical Assistance (TA) Grant Program is in its fifth year and is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This program allows NACD to accelerate on-the-ground conservation by increasing the capacity available to conduct outreach and deliver technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest stewards across the U.S.

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Nitrous Oxide Emissions From Corn Belt Soils Spike When Soils Freeze & Thaw

Nitrous oxide may be much less abundant in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but as a greenhouse gas, it's a doozy. With a potency 300 times greater than CO2, nitrous oxide's warming potential, especially via agriculture, demands attention.

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Construction Adds 32,000 Jobs; Openings Near Record High

While the construction industry added 32,000 jobs in July, the fact remains that the industry’s labor supply remains severely constrained.

Analysis of federal data by both the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Associated General Contractors of America also indicated that unemployment in the sector fell to 3.5% as the number of unfilled construction positions continues to approach record levels. 

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USDA to Invest $15 Million in Innovative Projects for Climate-Smart Agriculture, Urban Agriculture and Invasive Species

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today it will invest $15 million this year for the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Classic program. Through CIG, grantees work to address our nation's water quality, water quantity, air quality, soil health and wildlife habitat challenges, all while supporting agricultural production.

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USDA to Invest $5 Million in the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that it is investing up to $5 million in the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program (WMBP). This grant program supports the development of mitigation banks for use by agricultural producers seeking to maintain eligibility for USDA programs. Funds are available to Tribes, state and local government entities, nonprofits and other organizations.

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USDA Increases Funding for Partnerships to Safeguard, Restore Wetland Ecosystems

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing up to $20 million in fiscal 2023 to help conservation partners protect and restore critical wetlands  through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP). 

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NOAA Forecasts Summer 'Dead Zone' of Nearly 5.4K Square Miles in Gulf of Mexico

The dead zone, or hypoxic area, is an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and other marine life. It occurs every summer and is primarily a result of excess nutrient pollution from human activities in cities and farm areas throughout the Mississippi River watershed. 

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JCG Midwest Announces Second Location in Monticello, IL

JCG Midwest is excited to announce that after a decade of providing water management solutions to our customers, we have decided to expand to a second location in Monticello, Illinois.

Our new location is a direct result of increased demand, customer loyalty, and our commitment to our customers’ needs.

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Water Quality Efforts to Be Made Visual at Farm Show

Water quality improvements often happen in fields and underground – places that can be hard to see up close and in one setting.

But thanks to the aid of computer monitors, visual demonstrations and printed material, the water quality team with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is planning to make water quality improvement very visual during this year’s Farm Progress Show, Aug. 30-Sept. 1 in Boone.

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Potential of Water Quality Wetlands to Mitigate Habitat Losses from Agrigultural Drainage Modernization

Given widespread biodiversity declines, a growing global human population, and demands to improve water quality, there is an immediate need to explore land management solutions that support multiple ecosystem services. 

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Examining the Potential of Water Drainage Management to Reduce Runoff

The value of on-farm research continues to be demonstrated in large ways across Illinois. The Shelby County Farm Bureau Nutrient Stewardship Field Day, held June 30th near Shelbyville, was no exception.

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Alarming Rise in Trench Related Fatalities Spurs US DOL to Announce Enhanced Nationwide Enforcement

In 2022's first six months, 22 workers have fallen victim to the deadly hazards present in trenching and excavation work – surpassing 15 in all of 2021 – and prompting the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to launch enhanced enforcement initiatives to protect workers from known industry hazards.

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The Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers Are Experiencing Widespread and Regional Changes

Status and Trend Reports It is the third of its kind produced as part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) program and includes information on long-term changes in water quality, aquatic vegetation and fish from six study areas spanning the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

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Kocher & Kuberski Receive National LICA Scholarships

Every year, National LICA awards scholarships to support students in their pursuit of higher education and to encourage students to fulfill their dreams of entering into the career of their choice. 

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NOAA Forcasts Summer 'Dead Zone' of Nearly 5.4K Square Miles in Gulf of Mexico

NOAA is forecasting a summer “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico that will be approximately 5,364 square miles, making it about average for the 35-year history of the summertime dead zone measurements in the region. The forecast is lower than last year’s measured size and slightly lower than the five-year average measured size of 5,380 square miles. 

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Drainage Contractor’s Perspective on Barriers to Conservation Drainage Adoption Report

Respondents were asked about their degree of familiarity with six different types of conservation drainage practices: woodchip bioreactors, saturated buffers, drainage water management, constructed wetlands, subirrigation, and drainage water recycling. Drainage water management was the most familiar to respondents, with 75% of drainage contractors reporting they were very familiar with the practice. Drainage water recycling was the least familiar practice, with just 23% reporting they were very familiar with it.

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50 Years of the Clean Water Act

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 that had been in place was the first major U.S. law to address water pollution issues. However, it was not providing the protection it should have due to a lack of enforcement. The Clean Water Act of 1972 was an amendment to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948. 

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LICA's View: Moving Forward Together

The new LICA Educational Foundation for Veterans staff has been working diligently to advance the foundation’s mission. Earlier this year we submitted a grant application to help fund the foundation. We will know later this summer if application was accepted for funding.

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Birkey's Transfers Ownership of Company to Employees

Birkey’s Farm Store, headquartered in Champaign, is now 100% employee-owned, as it has transitioned its business structure to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) as of December 31, 2021. 

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How Farmers Keep Illinois Drinking Water Clean So You Can Beat the Summer Heat

I have spent pretty much my entire career thinking about our water, and what I can do to keep Illinois drinking water clean and safe. After all, I drink the same water and enjoy nature’s beauty just like you.

A farmer’s responsibility is to ask ourselves this question: “What is the potential impact of this farming practice on the land and water resources?”

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Long Term Study Shows Constructed Wetlands Provide Meaningful Water Quality

In 2005, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), began a long-term study to understand if, and how much, constructed wetlands can reduce agricultural nutrient losses from tile drainage on a Midwest row crop farm. Recent analyses of data collected over a 12-year period and published in the Journal of Environmental Quality shows that these treatment wetlands are very effective both in removing nitrate and in retaining dissolved phosphorus delivered from adjacent row crop farm fields via tile drains.

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How Do We Solve the Problem of Agricultural Nutrient Runoff?

U. of I. natural resources and environmental sciences researcher Lowell Gentry describes the pros and cons of various strategies to reduce nitrate runoff from agricultural fields.

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Is Water Quality a Trade-Off for the Benefits of No-Till?

No-till reduces soil erosion, reduces surface runoff, increases organic matter and increases soil water holding capacity. However, Baker et al., 2017 notes that there is a risk of P transport through macropores with no-till in fine-textured clay soil.

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Small Wetlands Can Have Big Impacts

In a new study, researchers have shown that wetlands built next to farmlands can dramatically reduce the amount of excess nutrients reaching aquatic environments.

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ISAP Releases 2021 Annual Report

In 2021, ISAP remained committed to working collaboratively to advance sustainable agriculture in Illinois. The Partnership is proud to share many of the year’s accomplishments in the 2021 Annual Report and looks forward to continuing this important work throughout 2022.  

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EPA Memo Points to Need for More TMDLs

The EPA is pressing state environmental regulators to expand the number of so-called pollution diets to reduce nutrient runoff in rivers and other water bodies and to expand the adoption of numeric nutrient standards, according to an agency memorandum sent to state officials this week.

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Take Conservation Action for Bobwhite Quail

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a new plan to help guide voluntary conservation work over the next five years across 25 states, including over 7 million acres of new conservation practices on productive, working lands, and ​will contribute to the current Administration’s efforts to make our nation a leader on climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Illinois is one of those states.

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Aspiration Begins to Slowly Meet Construction Jobs Demand

The first two months of 2022 saw a sizable increase in payroll numbers in the construction industry. The AGC reports employment rose by 60,000 jobs between January and February, and hourly pay jumped its highest in nearly 40 years. The industry still faces a massive worker shortage, but good-paying jobs have people migrating into construction, choosing craft trades over desk jobs.

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Biweekly Sampling Accurately Measures Tile Nitrate Levels, Research Finds

The monitoring of tile water on 48 Minnesota and Wisconsin farms from 2018-20 has established that biweekly testing is comparable in accuracy to real-time testing when measuring nitrate levels, according to Tim Radatz, coordinator of Discovery Farms Minnesota and Discovery Farms Wisconsin. The Discovery Farms programs are farmer-funded and farmer-directed programs that conduct on-farm research, outreach and education about conservation farming methods, with a focus on improving water quality.

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New Study Reveals Increasing Rate of Erosion in Midwest

A new study in the journal Earth's Future led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that, since Euro-American settlement approximately 160 years ago, agricultural fields in the midwestern U.S. have lost, on average, two millimeters of soil per year. This is nearly double the rate of erosion that the USDA considers sustainable. 

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USDA Makes Changes to Conservation Progr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing several new and expanded opportunities for climate-smart agriculture in 2022.

Updates include nationwide availability of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Conservation Incentive Contracts (CIC) option, a new and streamlined EQIP Cover Crop Initiative (CCI), and added flexibilities for producers to easily re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

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More Riparian Buffer Strips Can Protect Waterways

A new study suggests more opportunities to protect waterways: One system for keeping too many nutrients out of streams could be used more widely than it is now. Known as saturated riparian buffer strips, the system slows down and redirects water coming off farm fields.

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NRCS 2022 RCPP Application Cutoff Date: Working Lands, Water, and Wildlife Partnership Project

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding for the Working Lands, Water and Wildlife Partnership Project throughout Illinois. Illinois NRCS has partnered with the Conservation Fund to help producers address resource concerns of inadequate habitat for wildlife, water quality, and long-term protection of farmland. 

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Illinois-A Major Feeder to the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone

Hundreds of miles south of Chicago, decomposing algae in the Gulf of Mexico makes life so perilous for fish they swim away — or die.

These dead zones, which result from algae blooms sapping up oxygen, have increased in oceans around the world as waters warm.

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2022 Overholt Drainage School

Come prepared to engage in a combination of lectures, field demonstrations, and panel discussions and to practice what you’ve learned through practical exercises.

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Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that offers farmers, ranchers, and nonindustrial private forest landowners financial and technical assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices and activities on working agricultural and forestry landscapes.

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Crops Collaboration and Conservation

Last spring, when crops were green and upland birds were nesting nearby, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever entered a partnership with the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). The purpose of this perhaps “odd couple” relationship? To connect the technical experts within each organization to increase knowledge and understanding, and most importantly, to work together identifying opportunities to increase our collective tools for helping farmers achieve their conservation goals.

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Shallow Drains

Shallow drains refer to subsurface (tile) drain pipes installed at a depth of 2.5- to 3-ft depth. Shallow drains have a higher initial cost because they require a narrower drain spacing than deep drains to achieve the same water removal rate, but they are worth considering because of their benefits. These benefits include lowering of the water table more quickly, removing less total water from the soil profile, reducing nitrate loss, retaining more moisture in the root zone, and increasing crop yield under certain conditions

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USDA Offers Expanded Conservation Program Options for Climate-Smart Agriculture in 2022

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing several new and expanded opportunities for climate-smart agriculture in 2022. Updates include nationwide availability of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Conservation Incentive Contracts option and added flexibilities for producers to easily re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

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Conservation Cropping 2022 Seminar

Attention Illinois Farmers! Find ways to improve soil health, learn about cover crops, remain profitable—and even more marketable—by using sustainable techniques that build up natural resilience to weather extremes, pests, and weeds. State Conservationist Ivan Dozier encourages farmers to learn from conservationists, partners, and other Illinois farmers by participating in this Conservation Cropping Seminar online event.

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Much Work Remains to Reach Nutrient Loss Goals

Progress, current and future challenges were highlighted in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy biennial report.

Details of the report were unveiled during the Nov. 10 NLRS Partnership Conference.

The 2015 Illinois NLRS established a goal to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in Illinois waterways by 45%, with interim reduction goals of 15% nitrate-nitrogen and 25% total phosphorus by 2025.

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Nitrogen Calculators Not Created Equal, According to Illinois Study

When deciding how much nitrogen fertilizer to apply, farmers have options. The standard tool for the Midwest – the maximum return to nitrogen (MRTN) calculator – offers a static recommendation. It is based on hundreds of field trials, but doesn't vary much year to year. Newer dynamic tools have the potential to account for soil properties and weather, but also require input from farmers during the growing season to deliver site-specific nitrogen recommendations.

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Increasing Yield Down the Drain

Most farmers are fully aware of the benefit drain tile provides to land in our area.

In fact, three farm infrastructure investments that never concern Suzy Martin, a Farm Management Specialist with the Ohio Valley Farm Analysis Association, are the installation of irrigation systems, grain storage systems, and soil drainage systems.

These three investments are essentially guaranteed to increase farm income over their useful service life, therefore considered a wise investment for your land.

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ADMC is Working with the Conservation Drainage Network to Gain Insights from Drainage Contractors

Conservation drainage practices, applied in a conservation systems approach, offer great promise to improve environmental performance and farm economic viability on artificially-drained cropland. However, despite their benefits, producers are not adopting these practices on a widespread basis on tile-drained cropland.

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Recycle: Farm Progress Show wood chips to bioreactor

Anybody who’s walked the streets of the Farm Progress Show knows there’s a whole lot of wood chips out there. Turns out, they have life after the show.

Folks at the University of Illinois have put them to work following the 2021 FPS, using them to fill six wood chip bioreactors on Eric Miller’s farm in Piatt County, Ill.

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Soil Study Shows why Nitrous Oxide Emissions Should Factor into Climate Change Mitigation

Poorly drained agricultural soils emit enough of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide that the resulting climate change effects could far exceed the benefits of using the same soils as a means of sequestering carbon, according to a recently published scientific study.

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What’s Inside the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for Water?

Understanding what’s inside a 1,000+ page bill can feel daunting- so we’ve done our best to pull out the details below in a longer-than-usual blog post (!) as well as some thoughts on what’s ahead for implementing River Network’s priorities- clean, safe, affordable drinking water, resilient cities and communities, healthy rivers in agricultural landscapes, and robust and effective water laws and policies- are all present in the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (HR 3684). 

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Oxbow Restorations: The Fix for Many Water Problems in Rural Iowa

On a cold wet November morning, a couple dozen people met in the Lu Verne Community Center to learn about oxbows and all the benefits of restoring an oxbow. The planned tour of a recently restored oxbow and nearby restoration a few years old was called off due to the wet conditions but Drone13 was able to fly over both sites, as seen in the video above.

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Capturing Water from Atmospheric Rivers will Help Build Drought Resilience in California. Here's How:

Several locations in California set all-time 24-hour rainfall records this past weekend when an atmospheric river delivered much needed precipitation as the majority of the state remains in extreme drought conditions.

In Sacramento, this wettest day on record followed the longest consecutive dry spell on record amid California’s second driest year.

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Call 811 Before You Dig

Do you know what’s below the ground? It’s a simple question, but many excavators are not aware that buried beneath the ground is an extensive network of millions of miles of pipes, wires and cables that transport natural gas and other energy resources, electricity, telecommunications, water, and sewage. Contacting 811 is more than a call.

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From the ADMC: Working to Improve Practice Delivery

The success of the Polk County Saturated Buffer project has shown that there is potential to deliver edge-of-field conservation practices at a scale and pace significant enough to have an impact on water quality by improving upon traditional practice delivery methods. The pilot project has increased the number of bioreactors and saturated buffers installed in Iowa to 166 from 115. and did so in a cost-effective manner. 

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Constructed Wetland Doing it's Job

A new constructed wetland was showcased during the recent Vermilion Headwaters Watershed field tour in Livingston County.

The constructed wetland was installed in August 2018 on Fulton Farms farmland and is designed to capture and remove nutrients from tile drainage. The wetland encompasses 4.6 acres, including a 1.1-acre water-holding pond and a 3.5-acre buffer that’s planted as a pollinator habitat.

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LICA Establishes Crucial Program for Veterans

The Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA) has established the LICA Educational Foundation for Veterans. The foundation’s mission is to train U.S. military veterans to become highly skilled heavy equipment operators, as well connecting them with employment opportunities.

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Study Shows Constructed Wetlands are Best Protection For Agriculture Runoff

A new study finds wetlands constructed along waterways are the most cost-effective way to reduce nitrate and sediment loads in large streams and rivers. Rather than focusing on individual farms, the research suggests conservation efforts using wetlands should be implemented at the watershed scale.

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Tile Drainage Impacts Yield and Nitrogen

As most kids know, a big pile of mud can be a load of fun.

But not for farmers. Muddy fields mean too much water. And too much water means crops might not grow well.

Farmers often install underground drains, called tile drains, in waterlogged soils to help move the excess water away quickly. The drier soils are beneficial to their crops.

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A relatively new type of technology, known as a bioreactor, is helping farmers in the Midwest reduce their nitrogen (N) loss up to 62 percent. 

Nitrogen is a key nutrient found in fertilizer, manure or compost such as ammonia. It helps grow healthy and bountiful crops, also has environmental implications if it is washed out of the soil. 

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Emerging Drainage Water Recycling Practice Could Improve Yields, Water Quality

 Drainage water recycling (DWR) is a drainage management system designed to capture water during wet periods so it can be used later when growing crops are thirsty.

Versions of DWR have been around for years, but adoption has remained limited. Now, interest is growing as the practice is recognized for its potential to improve water quality and help farmers reduce risks from weather volatility.  

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Drainage for the Long Haul

Subsurface “tile” drainage is an essential agricultural water management practice on naturally poorly drained soils in Indiana and throughout much of the Midwest. We have conducted a long-term (35yr) drainage research study at the Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center (SEPAC) on high silt, low organic matter, poorly-structured soils that were not typically tile-drained prior to the 1980s.

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Saturated Buffers are Key to Removing Nitrates From Tile Drainage

Lee Tesdell farms 80 acres near Huxley, Iowa, that have been in his family since 1884. To maintain such a legacy, he’s adopted a long-term view of sustainability and strives to make his farm an example of the impact conservation practices have on soil health and water quality.

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Agriculture, Policy and Conservation Leaders Collaborate on a Path to Accelerate the Use of Edge of Field Practices on U.S. Farmlands

Today, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), and Meridian Institute launched a Roadmap to accelerate the adoption of edge of field practices on US farmlands. Edge of field practices—like saturated buffers and prairie strips—can help farmers improve water quality, store more carbon in the soil, reduce flooding, support pollinators, and enhance wildlife habitat in working landscapes.

Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association, Inc.

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