IFB stewardship commitment nears $1M, expands digital education, outreach

Since 2015, approximately 44,000 farmers have learned about stewardship through field days, workshops and other events.

University of Illinois Agricultural Engineering Professor Richard Cooke, right, explains an extensive bioreactor research project involving woodchips and corn stover. The Fulton County Farm Bureau hosted the event along with Illinois Farm Bureau, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

By Kay Shipman

Entering the fifth year of an intensive nutrient-stewardship effort, Illinois Farm Bureau continues investing money and resources to reduce nutrient losses across the farm landscape.

Since 2015, IFB has committed nearly $1 million for stewardship. Given the tight farm economy of the past several years, this commitment speaks volumes about the importance IFB and its members place on this issue, according to IFB President Richard Guebert Jr.

“In these tough economic times on our farms, our members still put value on stewardship,” Guebert said. “It costs money out of our pockets to plant cover crops and do other practices. But it’s what’s important to farmers, and this proves it.”

Commitments are needed to reach the science-based, statewide Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy goals to lower all nitrogen and phosphorous moving into water by 45 percent compared to average 1980-96 levels. The interim goals include a 15 percent nitrogen reduction and a 25 percent phosphorus reduction by 2025.

A big portion of IFB’s commitment has been Nutrient Stewardship Grants to county Farm Bureaus.

“I’m proud of our Board of Directors. This is the fourth year they have allocated $100,000 to county Farm Bureaus. Look at what the county Farm Bureaus are accomplishing,” Guebert said. This year, 19 projects will be implemented by 30 county Farm Bureaus and many local partners around the state.

Part of IFB’s stewardship priority is focused on education and outreach. Since 2015, about 44,000 farmers and others have participated in 282 field days, workshops, webinars and meetings.

IFB has worked diligently to share stewardship information online, reaching 4.23 million people on social media, and through its communication resources, including FarmWeek, FarmWeekNow.com and RFD Radio Network®.

Guebert encouraged everyone involved in nutrient stewardship efforts to continue – and to share what they’re doing. “We have to tell our story,” he said.