On St. Patrick’s Day, Americans everywhere – Irish and non-Irish alike – will think green to celebrate the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. But for farmers in Illinois and around the nation, thinking green isn’t something to reserve for March 17.
Several new and not-so-new conservation practices are drawing attention in farm communities, driven largely by the release of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and a need for farmers to minimize nutrient run off on their fields. So whether you’ve been thinking about trying out cover crops, changing your fertilizer application methods, or just getting your water tested, every day is a great day to think green.
Cover crops: Maybe the best place to start is to contact your local Cover Crop Specialist. He or she will be able to help you determine the best crop for your location and soils, and can help you through planting, management, and termination of the crop. IL Corn also has a great program that provides reduced cost cover crop seed for farmers trying it for the first time AND members of the IL Corn Growers Association receive a cover crop seed coupon every year. Email us to find out more.
Fertilizer Application: Most nitrogen loss from occurs in May and June when corn is small and rainfall is abundant. Nitrogen loss can occur from both denitrification (loss to the air) and from leaching (loss to water). Make sure that you’re not losing nitrogen you paid for by managing application rates, timing, placement and sources. Download an app to help you determine how to manage your nitrogen applications here.
Water Testing: If you’re a farmer just beginning to think about nitrogen loss and how to be a better conservationist, this is a great place to start. Water testing events are held all over the state – just click here to find one closest to you. When you test your water and begin to understand how much nitrogen you’re losing, you can start to understand the financial benefits to better fertilizer management.
Want to see what your farmer peers are doing to be better conservationists? The Conservation Story Map can help you understand the conservation practices other farmers in your area are already doing to leave their farms better for the next generation.
Resources are abundant to help you make small changes that will make a big impact.