Nutrient Reduction Strategy progresses in Iowa and Illinois

by | Sep 1, 2017 | 5 Ag Stories, FPS 2017, News

Two Illinois agencies announced the results of an effort made to reduce nutrient loss.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released the Illinois Nutrient Reduction Strategy Biennial Report at the 2017 Farm Progress Show. The report, describing actions taken within the last two years to reduce nutrient losses and influence positive changes in nutrient loads, showed a decrease in nitrogen and an increase in phosphorus.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said the reduced nitrogen levels were a good sign and notes Iowa has also seen success with its Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

?As we model what we think practices were 40 years ago versus now, we?re seeing more of a significant reduction, at least out of agriculture on the phosphorus side,? Northey said. ?There are probably still challenges on the nitrogen side. We?re seeing a lot of practices going on the ground, so I think those kinds of things over time will show a reduction in nitrogen as well.?

Some suggest the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) fails to quickly increase farmer participation in nutrient reduction practices. Northey reminds others of the extensive planning such practices require.

?It?s all expectations and challenges, and maybe not understanding what it takes to invest in these practices. For a farmer to go out there and spend a significant amount of money to start cover crops, he or she has to figure out how it?s going to work with planting, seeding and harvesting. He or she has to figure out if it?s going to work in a wet year or dry year,? Northey said.

Northey added 1,000 farmers agreed to implement cover crops, for the first time, on their farm this year and those farmers who have already implemented cover crops on their farm continue to renew and grow their acreages.

?We think this last year we saw 600,000 acres of cover crops versus less than 100,000 five to seven years ago. We?re growing. We?re a long way away from a million, five million or 20 million acres of cover crops but we?re on our way and I think we?re establishing it in a way where we know we?re going to see growth come,? Northey said.

Northey concluded by saying, ?There are a lot of good things happening in farm country about taking better care of the land and holding nutrients in the soil.?