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View from the Cab: An AISWCD update

The president of the Association of Illinois Soil & Water Conservation Districts speaks in Pontiac.

By: Kent Casson

The president of the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts addressed last week’s annual meeting of the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District in Pontiac.

I had the chance to visit with Tom Beyers during the event held at the Precision Planting PTI Farm. He noted many districts across the state don’t have a traditional meeting like Livingston County.

“We especially appreciate the annual meetings of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts,” Beyers told the crowd. “Livingston County has something to be proud of here.”

The Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts is a grassroots organization formed in 1948 which serves Illinois’ 97 member Soil and Water Conservation Districts. AISWCD’s vision is to support the mantra, “Clean Water, Healthy Soils.”

Beyers discussed funding that will soon be coming as there are substantial dollars in the Inflation Reduction Act which will likely come through NRCS programs. This will require more efforts with additional staff in addition to Climate Smart dollars coming from FSA. There will be up to 40 new conservation staff members through the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“We secured some Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy funds in the state of Illinois appropriations for conservation,” noted Beyers.

A total of $13 million is available to hire technical assistants.

When it comes to preventing nutrient loss in the state, Beyers feels the biggest conservation practice that could help the situation is planting cover crops.

“Those farmers who are brave enough to try cover crops – I commend them.”

At the state level, the AISWCD is trying to figure out how to get larger acreage farmers to adopt cover crops and similar practices.

“The cover crop program is growing but it seems it needs to grow a little faster,” added Beyers.

Beyers reminded the audience of Livingston County’s two constructed wetlands, at Saunemin and Dwight. Bureau County also has two. They are designed to remove toxins from tile systems.

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