BY GARY KENNEDY
About 65 people learned about nutrient strategies March 25 during a Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Field Day on the Dean Carrillon farm near Carlyle. Clinton County Farm Bureau hosted the event, funded in partnership with an Illinois Farm Bureau Nutrient Stewardship Grant.
During a bus trip to the site, Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and environmental resources, discussed the IFB initiative to educate farmer members about reducing field nutrient losses. Clinton County Farm Bureau received a $12,600 nutrient grant out of $100,000 awarded by IFB. Cliff Schuette, chairman of the county Farm Bureau Nutrient Loss Committee, shared the nutrient project goals.
At the farm, Doug Peterson, Natural Resources Conservation Service regional soil health specialist, talked about cover crops and how they improve soil health, while reducing erosion and nutrient losses.
To demonstrate cover crop impacts, a soil pit was dug, exposing the soil profile beneath 20 cover crop varieties in a farm test plot. Peterson highlighted the influence of difference species, pointing out the visible root growth. Some of the ryegrass roots extended down 36 inches.
Peterson explained those roots help draw nutrients to the surface, and those nutrients would be available for corn and soybean crops after the cover crop roots decay. He also discussed why some cover crops remained green, but other species were winterkilled.
Blake Welge of Progressive Farm Solutions outlined planter maintenance and adjustments needed to achieve proper seed depth and soil contact. Given the mild winter, farmers have more cover crop residue to handle this spring, he noted.
On a return trip to Breese, Patrick Mascohhoff, with The Mascohhoffs, reviewed the importance of each farm developing a nutrient management plan.
After lunch, Lurkins provided a water quality update and highlighted steps farmers can take to reduce runoff. Ted Funk with the Illinois Pork Producers Association discussed manure management and the importance of knowing the amount of nutrients being applied. He also demonstrated a new, free manure calibration app developed by the commodity groups.
Terry Wyciskalla of Wyciskalla Consulting outlined a free manure testing program offered by the county Farm Bureau as part of its nutrient stewardship grant project. Clinton County Farm Bureau members may have two samples, one liquid and one solid, tested at no cost. Members must get sample bottles at the Farm Bureau office and return the samples by May 31 to the office to take advantage of the offer. Typically, a test costs about $40 per sample.
Tyler Voss, Gateway FS crops specialist, reviewed proper cover crop termination, including tillage, rolling and chemical application. Most farmers are using chemicals, but they need to consider different factors, including temperature, sunlight and amount of time prior to planting the next crop. He recommended farmers work with their crop advisers.
The county Farm Bureau Nutrient Loss Committee is planning a July 25 field day. Topics will include soil sampling, manure spreader calibration, nitrogen rate trials and crop scouting.