BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Supporting Illinois farmers’ local nutrient loss reduction goals and pollinator habitat preservation, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) is awarding $175,000 in grants to county Farm Bureaus (CFBs) for local projects.
“Farmers across the state are continuously investing in our natural resources to preserve soil health and conserve pollinators by creating robust habitats and educational outreach programs,” said Raelynn Parmely, IFB environmental program manager. “Illinois Farm Bureau is thrilled to continue supporting these important stewardship projects. This is a long-haul effort to solve a complex issue, but farmers are eager to continue building upon existing research and discover new strategies to apply to their fields and farm practices.”
For the new fiscal year, IFB will distribute $150,000 Nutrient Stewardship Grants to 23 CFBs that will collaborate on 17 projects that will further Illinois water and soil conservation efforts. The organization is awarding $25,000 in Pollinator Conservation Grants to 22 CFBs that will work together on 11 pollinator projects, such as habitat creation and educational programming.
IFB is administering its Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program for an eight consecutive year to help promote local nutrient stewardship, soil health and water quality projects. The organization is also continuing its Pollinator Conservation Grant Program for a second year.
The Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program is one example of IFB’s commitment to acting on the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS). Since 2015, the IFB Board has committed nearly $2.8 million to nutrient stewardship efforts. This includes $1 million for the Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program.
These investments have focused on 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 a cornerstone of our NLRS work here at Illinois Farm Bureau,” said Lauren Lurkins, IFB environmental policy director. “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 eight-year track record in investing more than $1 million conservation projects across the state.”
The Pollinator Conservation Grant Program will once again provide CFBs and farmer leaders with opportunities to engage in locally led pollinator projects. This program was developed based on interest and recommendations from CFBs and farmer leaders who wanted to access additional support for farmer-focused pollinator programming and materials. Through a new partnership with Growmark, several CFBs will be able to access discounted pollinator seed from local FS locations.
The 2023 grant projects include hosting spring and summer field days to promote conservation practices and new research findings, creating educational resources, supporting new research partnerships, developing pollinator and cover crop demonstration plots, distributing pollinator seed, hosting watershed planning meetings and more.
Through the programs, 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 and pollinator conservation.
Pollinator Conservation Grant recipient county Farm Bureaus and their projects include:
- Carroll and Stephenson will continue working with Highland Community College to support its pollinator plot, as well as distribute pollinator seed to local farmers, with the support of Stephenson and Carrol Service Companies.
- Clinton will continue developing a pollinator habitat demonstration plot and working with local partners to establish additional habitats.
- Cook will enhance its existing pollinator garden and expand its partnership with Lincoln Park Zoo. The CFB will also distribute seed to farmer members with the assistance of Conserv FS.
- DeWitt will maintain its existing pollinator plot and develop educational signage.
- Jackson will offer a pollinator seed sale program with assistance from Southern FS.
- LaSalle will offer pollinator plants at CFB organized events, as well as outreach about the efforts farmers take to protect pollinators.
- Lawrence, Crawford, Edwards, Hamilton, Richland, Wayne and White CFBs will establish an additional pollinator plot in Wabash Valley at the Hamilton CFB office, as well as develop and share brochures at existing pollinator plots.
- Lee, Bureau, Marshall-Putnam, Stark and Whiteside CFBs will offer a program to sell pollinator habitat seed at a subsidized cost to members and distribute pollinator field signs with the assistance of Ag View FS.
- McHenry will continue working with McHenry County College to establish a demonstration strip plot.
- Washington will establish an on-farm pollinator demonstration plot, including evaluating different establishment and management strategies.
- Winnebago-Boone will distribute mason bee kits and pollinator education signs.
Nutrient Stewardship Grant recipient county Farm Bureaus and their projects include:
- Bureau CFB will continue to support University of Illinois research, including collecting data and developing opportunities to share preliminary results.
- Champaign CFB will offer cover crop education and outreach through a Nutrient Stewardship Field Day and other opportunities.
- Clinton CFB – will continue implementing a cover crop and manure management project, including hosting multiple education and outreach opportunities.
- Cook CFB will develop new a new research partnership focused on struvite applications on Cook County farms in addition to continuing its partnership with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).
- Fulton CFB will host a field day at MWRD’s Fulton County research site, focusing on a variety of topics, including woodchip bioreactors and struvite application.
- Greene and Calhoun will continue maintaining and implementing a cover crop demonstration plot, as well as offer virtual education opportunities.
- Henry and Mercer will host an additional watershed prioritization and planning meeting to support an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) 319 grant project in the Mississippi North Central watershed.
- Jo Daviess will continue hosting several research trials, including trials focused on cover crops, nitrogen management and water quality. The CFB will host several education and outreach events to share results and the impact of ongoing research.
- Knox will maintain a Young Leader-led cover crop program, which focuses on partnering with the local FS to plant one 20-acre cover crop plot per township. Partners will also develop a booklet with analyses from each of the plots.
- LaSalle will host an educational event focused on biologicals, featuring multiple outside speakers.
- McHenry will continue monitoring water quality at a woodchip bioreactor installed on McHenry County Conservation District property in 2020.
- Piatt, DeWitt and Macon CFBs will partner on a field day and support watershed planning efforts as part of ongoing efforts to support a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project near Lake Decatur.
- Sangamon will host a field day focused on educating attendees on details of saturated buffers and woodchip bioreactors in support of the Edge of Field Practices partnerships.
- Tazewell, Mason and Cass-Morgan CFBs will continue collecting data and develop a multifaceted groundwater monitoring project.
- Warren-Henderson will wrap up a multi-year nitrogen management project and plans to host a winter meeting to discuss its results.
- Washington will continue developing a cover crop project with plans to create education and outreach materials and host a field day and summer tour.
- Wayne will continue field trials to demonstrate fertilizer efficiency and economic advantages compared to traditional fertilizer applications and sharing results at a field day.
About Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy
The NLRS, which was released by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the IEPA in July 2015, calls for wastewater treatment plants, urban areas and agricultural areas to reduce the state’s phosphorous load by 25% and its nitrate-nitrogen load by 15% by 2025. The eventual target is a 45% reduction in the loss of these nutrients to the Mississippi River.
About Illinois Farm Bureau
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization directed by farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 366,043 and a farmer membership of 76,527. IFB represents three out of four Illinois farmers.
— Illinois Farm Bureau