Illinois Agriculture Reduces Nitrogen Losses via Voluntary Programs
More good news! At the Farm Progress show this week, Illinois EPA and IL Dept of Ag released a biennial report that outlines the progress made in the last two years on Illinois' nutrient loss reduction strategy (INLRS). The strategy was put in place in July 2015.
For agriculture, they reported a 10% decline in nitrogen losses to Illinois lakes, rivers and streams. Most of the credit goes to efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers in corn production, and also credits the voluntary actions taken by the ag industry to promote the 4Rs, embrace conservation practices, and raise awareness within the ag community of the need to reduce nitrogen losses.
For phosphorus, levels increased slightly mostly attributed to levels in waste water. As urban populations increase, treatment systems to remove phosphorus continues to be an extensive and expensive undertaking, but point sources are in the process of making many investments in new technologies to improve nutrient removal from waste water. They are to be commended for their on-going efforts as well. They must operate under a permit system which also is a major part of their nutrient reduction efforts.
The theme of the press conference was to reinforce that these positive efforts are the result of everyone working together to accomplish the goals of the INLRS. IFCA and all the ag groups have been engaged, and we have worked cooperatively with environmental groups, urban groups, wastewater officials, SWCDs, universities and state and federal agencies to reduce nutrient losses. You can see the press release, an executive summary of the biennial report, and the entire 89 page report by clicking here. In the agriculture section of the full report, you will see a description of the efforts of IFCA and our fellow ag groups, and descriptions of the programs we developed to improve nutrient research efforts and get practices implemented to improve nutrient utilization in Illinois. Because of Illinois' financial problems, the state has not put any new money into the INLRS. Everything that exists has been the result of efforts by the stakeholders to identify, finance and implement the programs. Kudos to all of us!
IFCA thanks all of our retail members and our fertilizer manufacturer and distributor members for supporting the IFCA "Keep it 4R Crop Program" and our 4R Code of Practice. You can stay updated on the IFCA 4R program by going to www.ifca.com and checking out the updates under our "Keep it 4R Crop" menu.
One reminder: By 2025, we must reduce N losses by 15% and P losses by 25%. We are well on our way but it will take continued efforts and attention to this task especially if we want to continue to prove that voluntary programs do work.
IFCA is hosting a 4R Field Day on September 12 in East Central Illinois. We have a few seats remaining for this event, which will focus on NREC funded research that is identifying ways to reduce nutrient losses including practical N and P practices that retailers can support and help implement. NREC is now five years along in its work, and the results of the research are coming to light. If you want to sign up for this free 4R event, email Jean Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will stay in contact with you on details surrounding this event.