In light of the recent Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) release, nutrient management practices have been on the minds of producers statewide. On July 23, ISA held its latest 2015 Sustainability Showcase event at The Maschhoffs in Carlyle, Illinois, to help growers in the Kaskaskia River Watershed learn about the latest in best management practices to reduce nutrient loss and protect water quality.

Growers and industry experts enjoyed presentations from five speakers addressing a wide range of issues around nutrient management. If you were unable to attend the Sustainability Showcase, take a look at presentation highlights from the event’s featured speakers. You can view the full presentation slides here.

The day kicked off with a presentation from Laura Pepple, Livestock Extension Specialist at the University of Illinois, who shared best management practices for improving water quality. Pepple outlined the different styles of nutrient management and provided examples of ways for growers to implement each on their operations. She also shared more in-depth guidelines for reducing phosphorus and nitrogen loss, advising attendees to be proactive in their management practices.

Presenter Patrick Maschhoff, environmental services manager for host facility The Maschhoffs, provided growers with a detailed look at how the nation’s largest family-owned pork producer implements manure and nutrient management strategies on its operation. He shared the strategic management plan used by The Maschhoffs as well as examples of these strategies at work, including dragline fertilizer injection and geographic information software for monitoring fields.

Janet Buchanan from the HeartLands Conservancy shared updates on the Kaskaskia Watershed Water Quality Assessment. The first stage of the study, developed as part of the federal Clean Water Act and conducted in 2006 and 2007, involved analysis of nutrient data samples from throughout the Watershed to establish best management practice guidelines tailored to meet the region’s needs. Buchanan outlined practices being implemented around the Watershed region. She concluded with details on the 2015-2016 portion of the study, including procedural changes and increased outreach efforts, and highlighted opportunities on the horizon such as federal and state funding and advanced watershed planning.

Illinois Pork Producers Association Executive Director Jen Tirey spoke about the meaning of the NLRS for Illinois farmers. She outlined details of the strategy itself, including invested organizations and programs, strategy targets and related costs, and a summary of the final content. She also provided attendees with examples of the numerous initiatives now in place throughout the state. Opportunities available to Illinois growers include BMP demonstration plots, N-Watch nitrogen management software, a statewide cover crop training initiative, and the IFCA Keep it 4R Crop nutrient stewardship program, focused on the four R’s of nutrient use.

Cover crop specialist Dan Towery of Ag Conservation Solutions rounded out the day’s program with a talk on making the most of cover crops. Towery, working in conjunction with Illinois Council on Best Management Practices, stressed the importance of using cover crops properly and efficiently for improving soil health and reducing nutrient loss. He advised growers that despite the additional planning and effort required initially, benefits such as higher soil resiliency and improved yields will more than outweigh the costs down the road.

For more information on any of the above speakers, their presentations, or the July 23 Showcase event, visit here.

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