Eighteen Illinois county Farm Bureaus have been awarded grants under Nutrient Stewardship Grant program. Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) has awarded the grants – totaling more than $99,000 – for the second consecutive year to help promote local nutrient stewardship, soil health and water quality projects.
“Last year’s grant projects not only promoted nutrient stewardship and water quality, but also built and strengthened partnerships among agricultural organizations,” said Lauren Lurkins, director of environmental and natural resources, IFB. “There was no question we wanted to continue our grants for a second year. We’re excited to see how our counties expand on last year’s projects and come up with new projects, but more than anything, we’re excited to do our part in improving water quality across the state.”
This year’s grant projects, which will take place in counties across the state, include planting cover crops to improve soil health, water testing, construction of a dry dam, and installation of a woodchip bioreactor.
Additionally, some counties will continue projects which were started last year, including testing how utilizing manure fertilizer with and without cover crops affects nutrient levels in soil, and water testing to determine how weather, farming practices, and conservation practices affect water quality. All projects will be conducted with the ultimate goal of achieving nutrient loss reduction goals under the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS).
The NLRS, which was announced by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in July 2015, calls for wastewater treatment plants, urban areas and agricultural areas to reduce the state’s phosphorous load by 25 percent and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15 percent by 2025. 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 ready to build on successes from last year — and develop new projects and programs this year,” Lurkins said. “With this year’s grants, and last year’s successes, farmers across Illinois are showing they care about protecting the land and water and are using voluntary conservation efforts to make a big difference.”
A complete list of county Farm Bureau receiving grants – along with partner organizations and project descriptions — visit the IFB website by clicking here.