This is the first of a four part series on Nutrient Management sponsored by FS/GROWMARK
Marcia Willhite, chief of the Illinois EPA Bureau of Water, says the first step in implementing this strategy was to get an assessment from the University of Illinois to determine what amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus are being lost to waters. Then they formed a Nutrient Reduction Strategy Policy Working Group composed of government officials, representatives from agriculture, waste water and environmental groups, academia, and technical providers such as NRCS and university extension. “Together we looked at the information provided by the University of Illinois and started to work on strategic actions to reduce these losses to water,” said Willhite, noting that most of the losses came from agricultural non-point sources and waste water discharges.
On the agricultural side, the approach is to identify voluntary conservation practices for farmers and ranchers to implement. “I think a really unique aspect of how Illinois is approaching reducing our nutrient losses is the real leadership that has been shown by the agricultural groups in devising programs that will reach out to farmers, help them understand what happens with the nutrients on their fields, and then demonstrating what practices will be most helpful in reducing those losses,” Willhite said. Among the initiatives developed by the agricultural community is Keep It for the Crop (KIC) by 2025. “I think KIC and programs like it are going to be extremely important in our success,” she added.
At this point in the process, Willhite says the policy group considered a draft of the strategy document and provided comments earlier and it is now being developed for release to the public by early September. “For a 30 day period, we’ll receive comments from the public,” she said. “Once those comments are provided, Illinois EPA and Illinois Department of Agriculture will work together in revising the document.” The final product will then be submitted to the federal EPA for approval.
Find out more about the Illinois work in this interview: [wpaudio url=”http://www.zimmcomm.biz/growmark/illinois-epa-marcia.mp3″ text=”Interview with Marcia Willhite, Illinois EPA”]
As this series continues, we will hear about the N-Watch Program, the impact of N use beyond farm economics, and developing nutrient management plans.