R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Illinois NLRS report issued

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Farmers are gearing up for fall fertilizer applications, as was evident last week at this farm outside Morton in Tazewell County. (Photo by Tim Alexander)

The second biennial Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy report has been released, and it doesn’t reflect well on farmers; we have reaction from concerned ag groups. To compound the report, it came as farmers are facing another compressed fall fertilizer application window. Also this week, we have info on where rural Illinois residents who sustained flood damage in 2019 can apply for loans — and the deadline for their applications. Please read on …


Illinois NLRS report issued

SPRINGFIELD — The state’s second Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Biennial Report describes the continued progress being made in Illinois to reduce nutrient losses from multiple sources to improve water quality in Illinois waterways, the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. The bad news for agriculture is that the lion’s share of credit is directed to wastewater management facilities for industry improvements made to meet more stringent nutrient permit limits — and not to the agriculture industry.

“The 2019 Biennial Report describes some of the dramatic reductions in total phosphorus discharges from some of the largest wastewater treatment facilities in the state,” said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John Kim. “We’ve already met one of our 2025 goals of 25 percent reduction of phosphorus from the point source sector, and we look forward to continued nutrient reductions.”

Despite investing more than $59 million in nutrient loss reduction for research, outreach implementation and monitoring in 2017-18, the agriculture sector was not similarly recognized for meeting its stated goal of helping to reduce nitrogen in Illinois waterways by 15 percent. “The next step is transitioning more farmers from awareness of nutrient loss practices to application,” said John Sullivan, Illinois agriculture director. (Illinois e-News release)


ISAP, AFT respond to NLRS report

DEKALB — Reaction to the issuance of the second biennial Illinois NLRS report (see prior news item) was swift, led by the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership and American Farmland Trust.

“The results of the report were disheartening — no progress in reducing nutrient loss. In fact, the report showed an increase in loss of phosphorus and nitrogen. The anomaly of increased water flow, or perhaps no anomaly at all given the increased propensity for extreme weather in the region including heavy rain events, did nothing to help the situation,” according to AFT. “The evident role the weather played in slowing progress showed us that going forward our efforts will have to not only be about reducing nutrient runoff, but also about increasing resiliency of soils to hold water and nutrients through extreme weather.”

Practices currently being adopted by farmers to address N and P losses are apparently not going to be enough to meet the 2025 goals of the NLRS, agreed ISAP’s Jill Kostel. “ISAP is working with farmers to increase voluntary efforts to reduce nutrient runoff. We know farmers are making changes in their operations due to nutrient loss concerns — but it simply is not fast enough and we need to accelerate the adoption of the appropriate practices in order to have a significant impact.” More alignment and funding needs to be prioritized so that implementation of practices that achieve the goals of the Illinois NLRS are accelerated, according to the ISAP.


IFCA: Manage fall fertilizer applications

BLOOMINGTON — Just a few days prior to the issuance of the NLRS report, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association President Jean Payne, speaking on the Illinois Farm Bureau’s RFD Radio Network, urged farmers and applicators to time their fall dry fertilizer applications carefully. Harvest delays, she said, won’t give farmers many opportunities to apply fall fertilizer — and the weather forecast for the rest of the month calls for chilly conditions to continue.

“We’re really hoping for more opportunities in November and December to get some nutrients out there,” she said. “Everybody knows how (the shortened application season last year) jammed is all up in the spring. It was tough on everybody.” Payne advised farmers to contact fertilizer applicators and prepare to apply dry fertilizer as soon as their crops are out, as nutrients applied on frozen soils in February didn’t work out very well.

“My advice is as soon as the crops are combined, it should be followed by a dry fertilizer application, so we don’t get desperate in the winter to get things done,” she said. (IFB news)


IEMA, SBA list loan outreach centers

SPRINGFIELD — Four Disaster Loan Outreach Centers opened last week in Alexander, Jersey, Rock Island and Stephenson counties, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration announced. Personnel will be on hand from Nov. 21 to Dec. 5 to assist with recovery efforts associated with historic 2019 flooding. They will be providing SBA loan assistance and associated relief information to help repair or replace damaged or destroyed property, according to an Illinois e-News release.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Jan. 13; economic injury applications are due on Aug. 14. Loan applications can be completed online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website, or mailed to the SBA in Fort Worth, Texas.


Peoria County Farm Bureau honors servers

PEORIA — Tim Wagenbach, a Dunlap School Board member and general manager of Akron Farm Services, was given the 2019 Peoria County Farm Bureau’s Ag Service Award during their Nov. 16 annual meeting. “Tim has the ability to work with people in a friendly, Christian manner,” an anonymous nominator said of Wagenbach. “Because of this attribute, has developed a loyal customer base, maintained a high degree of employee retention in his business, won the votes of the community for Dunlap School Board, served with integrity in various church roles, and shown the respect due to his various family members — especially towards his mother and father.”

The PCFB also named Adam Benson of the Logan-Trivoli Fire Protection District as recipient of the 2019 Volunteer Emergency Service Provider award. (PCFB news)


Illinois Farm Fact:

For the five-year period from 2013-2017, statewide water flow, nitrate-nitrogen loads, and total phosphorus loads were estimated to be 13 percent, 7 percent and 26 percent above the 1980-96 baseline period. (2019 Illinois NLRS report)