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Nutrient loss efforts continue

A soggy field is shown in Central Illinois / CIFN file photo

The implementation of a Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy remains a top priority for the Illinois Farm Bureau.

“We still want to focus on education and outreach,” explained Illinois Farm Bureau’s Lauren Lurkins.

Lurkins says farmers have to tell the public the truth when it comes to what they are doing on the issue. With NLRS, it is difficult to find a one size fits all solution from the state, let alone the entire country. The Iowa State Extension has a website with more information available. There is a lawsuit in the Iowa city of Des Moines which involves impacted drainage districts.

The debate centers around water being considered ag storm water or ground water.

“It really does come down to experts talking about it,” Lurkins said.

Both ag environmental and utility groups are closely monitoring this situation to see how it ends up. The topic will not fall off the radar with a new presidential administration, according to Lurkins, and will not go away anytime soon as the conversation is still happening.

When looking at the big picture, Illinois contributes nitrates which eventually make their way to the Gulf of Mexico.

“We do have our work cut out for us in reducing losses,” Lurkins told those attending last month’s Livingston County Agronomy Day.

All of the efforts farmers have been doing in the past 18 months have been helping significantly. A page on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website shows information on the various working groups involved with the nutrient loss effort. Lurkins notes from 1980-2015, the amount of nitrates leaving our state has decreased by 10 percent because we are efficient with our use of nitrogen.

Lurkins believes we have great “forward-thinking” farmers but more people need to hop on board with the initiative. Growers are encouraged to find out what works on their farm for nutrient management while still keeping them farming.

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