Illinois Corn has been increasingly concerned about water quality issues, specifically how nitrogen application used to maximize corn production impacts water quality in Illinois watersheds.
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board is involved in the Indian Creek Watershed Project because of our interest in protecting and preserving Illinois water quality. The Indian Creek Watershed Project is a Mississippi River Basin Initiative project located in Livingston County. The Project is designed to demonstrate and implement different conservation practices to improve water quality.
Currently 163 Illinois farmers in the watershed, covering approximately 50 percent of the watershed acreage have voluntarily signed up to implement conservation practices to improve water quality. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board is supporting this effort to determine which Best Management Practices will improve water quality in the watershed.
On July 7, over 130 people attended a tour highlighting three farms that have implemented nitrogen management changes and have nitrogen replicated trials that will measure the impact on not only water quality, but how it impacts yield. Data from these farms currently shows that nitrogen efficiency can be improved by applying nitrogen at the right time, at the right rate, in the right place (application method) and how to select the right source of nitrogen to improve the crop yield while improving nitrogen use efficiency.
Early nitrogen soil testing on one farm has already shown this year that the fall applied nitrogen site has lost enough nitrogen to impact yield, while the spring applied nitrogen has excellent nitrogen levels available to maximize yields. Other farms are looking at nitrogen sources and doing rate comparisons in small plot replicated trials, as well as the field size comparisons. The plot results will be available this fall.
In the meantime, Illinois Corn will continue to educate farmers on the Best Management Practices for nitrogen application that minimize effects to the environment and maximize yield on Illinois farms.