The Soil Health Partnership (SHP), a program of the National Corn Growers Association, and IL Corn are excited to announce a new project focusing on helping farmers understand and implement new soil health practices and connecting those practices to farm profitability. The project is funded by the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Program, the on-farm trial portion of which was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill.
The SHP and IL Corn project will help farmers conduct side by side comparisons of different tillage practices, cover crop plantings, nutrient management practices, grazing, and manure use opportunities. The financial risks will be mitigated using the CIG funds to help offset seed costs, encourage farmer engagement, and minimize yield disruptions.
“Better soil health is important for every farm and every acre. The production pressures of changing climate can best be mitigated by robust and vibrant soil health. Soil Health Partnership wants to support farmers as they strive for better soil health and this new funding from USDA will provide the assistance needed to try new practices and conduct on-farm research leading to answers to questions farmers have about implementing new conservation practices like cover crops and reduced tillage,” said John Mesko, Senior Director for the Soil Health Partnership.
“IL Corn and its premiere water quality program, Precision Conservation Management, are excited to be a part of the future of soil health by pairing conservation data with financial data for our partner farmers. Family farms are a business. IL Corn believes it is important to help farmers implement conservation programs that will help, not hurt, their bottom line. The type of research we can conduct through this CIG program project will be invaluable to our farmer partners, and the farmers that utilize the research results in the future,” said Travis Deppe, Director, Precision Conservation Management.
“The Conservation Innovation Grants program is funding the future of conservation and agriculture. These On-Farm Trials will allow us to put the latest innovations in conservation to work on the land, while providing new data to show producers across the nation what these systems and practices can do for the health of their operations and our natural resources,” said Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Matthew Lohr.
This project to be conducted in Illinois is one of only 16 projects selected in this inaugural CIG On-Farm Trials competition. NRCS awarded a total of $24,314,560 million for the 16 projects to drive public and private sector innovation in resource conservation.
The projects will be carried out in 23 states. Most projects have the potential to be replicated or to serve as a model for similar innovation efforts.