BLOOMINGTON — Twenty-nine Illinois county Farm Bureaus have been awarded grants under the first-ever Nutrient Stewardship Grant program. Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) has awarded the grants – totaling more than $100,000 – to help promote local nutrient stewardship, soil health and water quality projects.
The Bureau County Farm Bureau received a grant for the Lady Landowners Spring Seminar designed to provide nutrient management information to lady landowners in Bureau County.
“We’re beyond talking about nutrient management and moving to actually help our members adopt and implement strategies and practices,” said Lauren Lurkins, director of environmental and natural resources, IFB. “We’re trying to move the needle, and these grants will help us do just that.”
Projects tackle nutrient issues relevant to local needs, soils, and farming practices, with the ultimate goal of achieving nutrient loss reduction goals under the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS).
Announced by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in July 2015, the NLRS calls for a creation of an Agricultural Water Quality Partnership Forum to “steer outreach and education efforts to help farmers address nutrient loss.”
The plan tasks wastewater treatment plants, urban areas and agricultural areas with reducing the state’s phosphorous load by 25 percent and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15 percent by 2025. These actions will assist in addressing water quality problems in Illinois rivers, lakes and streams. 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 excited and empowered,” Lurkins said. “It’s wonderful to be a part of this critical effort.”