Supporting best management practices remain vital staples to the work that IL Corn does. These conservation methods can have beneficial impacts on farmland in the immediate and distant future, specifically toward reducing nutrient loss. This priority has allowed us to partner with multiple organizations, including the University of Illinois, to create a coalition that focuses on understanding, exploring, and implementing the precision conservation practices. University of Illinois’ Dr. Jonathan Coppess and IL Corn’s Dr. Laura Gentry proviide an update to the project and its significance. Read excerpts below:
Precision Conservation Management (PCM) is a service program that combines farm business and financial practices with precision technology and data management to help farmers better integrate and manage conservation on their farms. It will provide analysis, technical assistance, financial assistance and data assessment to help reduce complexity and manage risks associated with the nutrient loss efforts. PCM combines $9.86 million in private matching contributions (both in-kind and cash) with $5.3 million in NRCS conservation program funding to help farmers manage conservation practices to reduce nutrient losses.
One of the unique work products provided by PCM is a custom developed Resource Analysis and Assessment Plan (RAAP) for the farm that begins with a sustainability assessment for each field. This will work in conjunction with the Field Print Calculator developed by Field to Market. In part, this is an effort to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the farmer's current practices, including nitrogen application practices, permitting a benchmark against other fields. Out of this assessment, a field-by-field plan can be developed to reduce nutrient loss. The assessment will also help identify all resource concerns for the farm and evaluate practices that can help address those resource concerns. This leads to a five-year plan to implement practices and identifies potential financial assistance from NRCS programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Finally, working with the Farm Business Farm Management Association (FBFM) a detailed financial analysis of the conservation efforts can be completed that include field-by-field profitability estimates.
PCM is initially focused on 12 counties and 3 regions in Illinois and will target critical watersheds such as the Mackinaw River, Indian Creek, Vermilion River and Lake Springfield. The image shows where PCM is targeting its efforts in Illinois and farmers in these regions can contact the Illinois Corn Growers or go to the PCM website for more information. The first year goal is at least 50 RAAP in Illinois and Illinois Corn Growers report that they currently are on track to reach that goal with 58 farmers signed up.
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