USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), along with the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC) and Illinois Farm Bureau have released the latest Producer Survey. The 2015 survey focused on questions relating to nutrient management and knowledge of Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS), as well as conservation practices like cover crops, edge-of-field practices, use of soil tests and erosion management. Responses were to be based on 2015 and 2011.
Per the survey, the majority of Illinois corn acres follow the recommended MRTN (Maximum Return to Nitrogen) application guidelines, and this number is increasing. In 2011, 70 percent of the corn acres were using MRTN and by 2015 that number had increased to 81 percent. In addition, more than half of all surveyed farmers indicate that they are either knowledgeable or very knowledgeable of the aspects of the 4R Strategy of Right Nutrient Source at the Right Rate, in the Right Place and Right timing. Between 2011 and 2015, farmers moved to a split application system of less than 50 percent fall/winter applied applications with the remaining Nitrogen applications split between pre-plant and side-dress on nearly half a million acres.
Farmers have also shown increased adoption of cover crops since 2011. With almost half a million acres of cover crops on tile-drained ground, farmers have more than doubled their use of cover crops in the five-year period of the survey.
“This is the first opportunity for farmers to really tell their collective story regarding the use of nutrient management conservation practices in Illinois,” said Warren Goetsch, Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). “This survey is proof that our agricultural community has a good story to tell. Illinois farmers are taking ownership of these uses, specifically agricultural non-point nutrient loss, and they are willing and able to meet the challenge through voluntary involvement and best management practice adoption. They are truly doing a great job!”