Twenty-eight county Farm Bureaus will oversee 21 projects funded with $150,000 through Illinois Farm Bureau’s Nutrient Stewardship Grant program.

Funded projects show active collaboration in all categories of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) - education and outreach, research, implementation and documentation.

Since 2015, the IFB Board of Directors has committed more than $700,000 to the grant program, funding 100 projects in 70 counties. Through the program, IFB takes an active role to support county Farm Bureaus and local partners to develop projects that address farmer needs for research, education and outreach, and implementing best management practices for nutrient loss reduction.

The 2021 projects include:

Bureau – analyzing results and developing a model based on several years of data.

Clinton – once again offering manure testing as well as manure management outreach opportunities, including spring and fall field days.

Coles – meeting education and outreach goals in the Embarras River Watershed by hosting a cover crop field day in the northern region of the watershed.

Lawrence, Richland – hosting a cover crop field day in the southern portion of the Embarras River Watershed.

Cook – collaborating with Fulton County Farm Bureau and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Great Chicago (MWRD) to develop a rural-urban exchange program.

Fulton – continuing to build its partnership with MWRD by hosting an education and outreach opportunity in collaboration with Cook County Farm Bureau.

Hancock, Mercer, Warren-Henderson, Henry, Knox – hosting a series of five watershed planning meetings to educate farmers on the NLRS and gathering feedback for implementing a Mississippi North Central (Flint/Henderson) watershed plan.

Henry, Rock Island – hosting a kayaking event in collaboration with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) to provide a unique water quality education opportunity.

Jefferson, Franklin – collaborating with Illinois Department of Natural Resources to host a cover crop field day near Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park.

Jo Daviess – continuing surface water runoff testing as well as a cover crop research project.

Knox – expanding its cover crop program and creating a booklet to share results of soil sampling and other updates.

LaSalle – hosting an educational “night at the farm” event for elected officials.

Macon – hosting an education and outreach event focusing on water quality and conservation efforts in the Lake Decatur Watershed.

Marshall-Putnam – planning to implement new cover crop plots near the Illinois River, and develop and distribute a side-by-side cover crop analysis tool for farmers.

Mason, Cass-Morgan, Tazewell – continuing to collect data and develop a multifaceted groundwater monitoring project.

McHenry – beginning water sampling at the woodchip bioreactor installed in 2020 on McHenry County Conservation District property.

Sangamon – hosting a cover crop field day in the Lake Springfield watershed to announce grant funding opportunities in the watershed.

Stephenson, Carroll – planning to host a series of presentations on conservation practices that could improve farming practices.

Warren-Henderson – adding a cover crop component to a nitrogen management research project.

Washington – developing a cover crop project with plans to incorporate future soil and water sampling.

Wayne – continuing field trials to demonstrate fertilizer efficiency and economic advantages compared to traditional fertilizer applications and sharing results at a field day.

“The Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program is a cornerstone of our NLRS work here at IFB. The program includes a wide range of projects that reflect the information needs and priorities of our county Farm Bureaus and farmer members. As the staff person leading the program, I am proud of the six-year track record showing efforts in 100 projects with more than 70 county Farm Bureaus,” said Lauren Lurkins, IFB environmental policy director.

IFB continues to set environmental action as an organizational priority, following through by committing significant resources to do the job. Since 2015, IFB has contributed to the NLRS. Through leadership and participation from farmer members and county Farm Bureaus, IFB’s NLRS efforts have made sizable strides in four priority areas - education and outreach to farmers, landowners and the general public; supporting research of best management practices to reduce nutrient loss from agricultural fields; supporting farmer implementation efforts across the state; and demonstrating progress toward the long-term goals of the NLRS.

The Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program is one example of how IFB is making lasting impacts in nutrient stewardship. The program serves as a cornerstone of the wide range of projects IFB supports, providing farmers with the opportunity to develop grassroots efforts in their local communities. Since 2016, IFB has committed $2 million of its own funding to build and maintain its nutrient stewardship programs.