Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership to host a series of virtual meetings on Conservation Drainage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 21, 2020

CONTACT: Adrienne Marino | adrienne.marino@tnc.org

Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership to host a series of virtual meetings on Conservation Drainage

ISAP’s mission is to create a network to support a systems approach to improve Illinois soil health and reduce nutrient loss.

DEKALB, Ill. – Members of the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership, ISAP, with additional industry agency, conservation, and research partners, will be holding a virtual meeting series, On the Leading Edge, that explores opportunities to harness and build on available resources and expertise in order to scale up conservation drainage practice implementation throughout Illinois.

Installing edge of field conservation practices that address nitrate losses from tile drainage is critical for meeting the water quality goals outlined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Sessions will be held on July 30, August 6, and August 13, from 11AM-12:15PM. 

“As Illinois continues to focus on water quality practices that help meet its nutrient loss reduction goals for 2025, conservation drainage knowledge and implementation vary across the state,” noted Ryan Arch, Executive Director of the IL Chapter of the Land Improvement Contractors of America, ISAP member. “The ‘On the Leading Edge’ meeting series is geared to the why, where, and how of conservation drainage; answering these questions in three separate sessions that anyone can view individually or collectively, based on their familiarity and experience with conservation drainage practices.”

The conservation drainage virtual series kicks off with a session on altered hydrology and the role conservation drainage practices can play in meeting the goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

“Tile drainage is necessary for improved crop production in many Midwestern agricultural landscapes,” notes Jane Frankenberger, Extension Agricultural Engineer with Purdue University and series speaker, “but its widespread implementation can contribute to nitrate losses even when growers are carefully managing the rate and timing of their fertilizer applications. Conservation practices that provide opportunities for in field and edge of field water storage allow farmers to better manage their drainage systems and to contribute to downstream water quality improvements.”

The second session in the three-part series will drill down to individual practices and provide a “what to look for in the field” look at practice requirements for controlled drainage, bioreactors, saturated buffers, and constructed wetlands. A panel representing landowner, contractor, and conservation professional perspectives will discuss their experiences and take audience questions on topics related to conservation drainage practice adoption and implementation. Finally, the third and final session in the 3-part series will focus on applying the Ag Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF), a free watershed modeling tool, to demonstrate how model outputs can be used  to improve watershed outreach and education, evaluate nutrient loss reduction scenarios, and advance adoption and implementation of conservation drainage practices.

The full agenda can be found online at https://ilsustainableag.org/, along with registration information and additional event details. If you have questions or need assistance with registering, please send email inquiries to adrienne.marino@tnc.org.

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As a coordinated and consistent group, ISAP focuses on messaging, outreach, training and education for farmers and their trusted advisors to bring together and disseminate new information and lessons learned in plain, practical language. Members work collaboratively to amplify the programs of each organization, share resources to gain efficiencies and identify synergies in achieving soil health and nutrient goals. ISAP’s mission is to create a network to support a systems approach on agriculture lands to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss. ISAP’s members include: The Nature ConservancyAmerican Farmland Trust, Precision Conservation ManagementIllinois CornIllinois Central CollegeThe Wetlands InitiativeThe Zea Mays FoundationSoil Health PartnershipIllinois Land Improvement Contractors AssociationAssociation of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation DistrictsIllinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, and University of Illinois Extension

Representatives from the Ag Drainage Management Coalition, Illinois Association of Drainage Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, DIGS Associates, and Springfield Plastics have also been engaged in development of the ‘On the Leading Edge’ series.

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