4R Efforts Key to Illinois’ Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy

24th Jun 2014 4R Consistent,4R Practices,North Central,

This story is from the June 2014 KIC Progress Report. The
full report is at ifca.com.

For the past year, the Illinois EPA has been leading a
multi-stakeholder effort to devise a comprehensive strategy to reduce nutrient
losses to Illinois river, lakes and streams as well as reduce Illinois’
contributions to the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico. This effort will soon
result in a document, submitted to USEPA, that extensively outlines the water
quality challenges in Illinois and critical steps to be taken to reduce
nutrient losses.

To succeed in reducing nutrient losses, it will take a commitment
from point sources and non-point sources. While point sources are regulated by
permits, non-point sources such as the agriculture industry have the
opportunity to demonstrate in a non-regulatory framework that we are serious
about reducing nutrient losses and keeping our nutrients for the crop. This is
a tremendous opportunity and I am very optimistic that we can improve
agriculture and water quality by utilizing the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship:
Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place. We are fortunate in Illinois
to have a structure in place to meet the challenges outlined in the strategy
document and reduce our losses of both nitrogen and phosphorus to water.

NREC’s Role: The Illinois Nutrient Research & Education
Council (NREC) continues to support outreach programs such as KIC, but it is
also making serious investments in fundamental research at our Illinois
universities to determine the type of nutrient management activities can reduce
nutrient losses in a quantifiable way over time. NREC is expending $2.55
million on a host of scientific research projects and corresponding outreach programs
to ensure these studies reach thousands of Illinois farmers who are contributing
75 cents to NREC for every ton of fertilizer they purchase. NREC recently
published its 2013 Annual Report and has an ambitious slate of 2014 projects. Go
to www.illinoisnrec.org to see for yourself how Illinois agriculture is
strategically soliciting, selecting, funding and implementing projects to
reduce nutrient losses in the ag sector.

KIC’s Outreach Role: Although ag research has been on-going
for years, many of us feel that the dissemination and application of what is
learned through research has often been the weak link in the system. To help
remedy this, Dan Schaefer, KIC’s Director of Nutrient Stewardship, is taking a
hands on role and working directly with researchers to help provide guidance on
the types of agronomic practices that ag retailers and farmers are capable of, can
easily adopt in the field, and result in improved farm profitability.

The fertilizer industry has always had a very strong tie to
our UI land grant ag extension program and the relationship and commitment between
UI extension and the KIC program is stronger than ever. Dr. Emerson Nafziger
reviews all KIC on-farm protocols for N rate trials. There are 29 farms
participating in N rate Trials this year with 31 total trials underway; 11
farmers are in their 2nd year of trials and this is the 3rd
year for 4 of our participating farmers. Dr. Nafziger works with Dan to
evaluate the field results and this information feeds the MRTN calculator to
keep it current and relevant. Dr. Nafziger also shares information from the KIC
program in UI published bulletins. KIC has hosted several webinars to provide
new information directly to certified crop advisors and ag retailers, who earn
continued education credits for participating. The webinars fill to capacity with over 200 ag retailers and crop
advisors participating each time, demonstrating that our industry is always
striving to improve. Several of these webinars remain posted on the CBMP
website at www.illinoiscbmp.org.