A new chapter in Illinois agriculture opened recently with the announcement of the final version of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS). The NLRS guides state efforts to improve water quality at home and downstream by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus levels in Illinois lakes, streams, and rivers.
ISA supports the NLRS and its call for voluntary adoption of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to help reduce nutrient loss from farm fields. We’re also helping support growers in their efforts to improve nutrient management on every acre that they farm by sharing information and advice from growers who have successfully implemented these BMPs on their farms.
"Our job is to be a steward of the land, and we rely on our soils for our income. You’ve got to take care of the health of that soil to take care of yourself."
"Short-term gains are nice, but we are looking for long-term sustainability."
"You’ve got to have the right equipment, the knowledge to do it, and when you adopt a new practice, whatever it may be, you need a change in mindset."
“Be receptive to change. In this day and age with all of the technology we have, there is a huge difference in the information available. Understand that we do have an issue, and if we aren’t proactive about addressing the issue, we will get regulations that we won’t be happy with."
“Growers need to be aware of what’s going on. They need to start trying things to see what’s going to work for their operations and not hurt the outcomes for the crop or their profitability. Once they identify those practices on a small scale, they can expand them to their full farming operation.”
"If every day you checked your seed corn and every day you came up with a bag missing, you'd do all you could to stop that loss. We need to think about nutrients the same way. We have paid for them. Let's keep them where we need and want them."
"As a family, we have a commitment to preserving the high-quality soils we farm."
"To me, [cover crops are] economically and environmentally friendly. And with continuous use, we’re trying to build a better factory and make our soils more resilient.”
"We’re not going to blaze trails in new areas. But if we see something that looks like it might work and we can collect some information and talk with someone we trust, we will try new things. We don’t mind spending money to try and learn something."
"I have my feet in both the farmer and applicator side of cover crops, and I take deliberate steps in both operations to become more sustainable."
"You can be a better steward of your nutrients by preventing them from running off into the environment, and that’s better for everyone.”
"We especially watch our herbicide program because of cover crops. We have to be very watchful so we don’t apply herbicides that are going to diminish the establishment of the cover crops."
"A long-term approach is our only solution to this problem. Yield is important, and it definitely pays the bills. But soil is our only long-term resource, and water is beyond critical. We have to protect both."
"At first they said, ‘Why are you doing this? What is this?’ And I explained to them that I believe in making the land better than I found it. I’ve always believed that, even when it was normal to plow cornstalks and chisel the beans."
“We had 6 to 7 inches of rain that led to flooding all around us. Where we planted radishes, residue stayed in the field. A lot of corn stalk and soybean reside flooded into the ditches where no cover crops were planted. It’s like an insurance policy—long term you know it helps, but in a bad year, it will save you.”
“Every farm is different. You don’t have to implement it on the whole farm. Try something small first, and see if that works for you... Most farmers don’t like change, but I encourage them to look out the window a little more than they have in past years.”