ISAP Seeks Conservation Drainage Project Sites

The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC) and partners from the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership (ISAP) are proud to announce that they have been selected by the Fishers and Farmers Partnership (FFP) 2023 Aquatic Habitat Program to receive funding to “jumpstart” conservation drainage in Illinois. The groups seek to expand the institutional knowledge to deliver conservation drainage practices among conservation practitioners in Illinois by providing coordination and financial assistance for 3-5 practice installations. The FFP funding will make it possible for farmers and landowners to participate with no out of pocket expenses. ISAP partners are currently looking for suitable practice sites where there is local interest in gaining hands-on experience with the evaluation, design, and installation steps associated with conservation drainage practices. 

Eligible practices include:

  • Constructed wetlands for tile-drainage treatment
  • Drainage water management/automated drainage water management
  • Saturated buffers
  • Woodchip bioreactors

To advance institutional knowledge, ISAP believes that it is crucial for project coordinators, private engineers, and agency staff to gain experience working through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) full approval process for practice designs to help identify potential bottlenecks in the planning process. While participation in a federal cost share program is not required to receive financial assistance for practice installation from ISAP, future larger scale implementation projects will likely use NRCS technical and financial assistance, or will have sites located within the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) filter strips that will require NRCS approval. 

“As practitioners the last thing we want is for there to be an increase in funding and demand for conservation drainage practices only to have sites sit on the shelf for an extended period because we do not have the capacity to move designs through the approval process,” said ADMC Executive Director and project lead Keegan Kult. “Without experience, it is difficult to deliver these practices in a timely manner. It is important to gain this experience with a small handful of practices before we take on trying to deliver 50, 100, or 500+ sites every year.”                                         

Since its inception, ISAP’s edge of field and water quality programming has included a consistent emphasis on conservation drainage and on delivering training and targeted resources related to tile treatment practices. “We have to address nutrient losses from tile if we are going to meet the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy in Illinois,” notes Adrienne Marino, Water Quality Program Manager with The Nature Conservancy, a founding member of ISAP. “This project is exciting because it creates opportunities for ISAP to engage with local partners as they develop skills and experience that are critical for increasing the adoption of conservation drainage practices in their areas, and we can build on that success to create momentum to scale up our conservation drainage work throughout the state.”

The ISAP team is accepting conservation drainage practice site recommendations via an online form through Friday October 13th. The team is especially interested in opportunities to install practices to treat areas larger than 50 acres or to treat multiple tile outlets, projects that integrate conservation drainage practices into new tile designs, and projects that leverage resources from USDA programs such as CRP or EQIP. Special consideration will be given for practice sites in the Vermillion Headwaters watershed. If you have further questions regarding the project, please contact Keegan Kult via email at or via phone at 515-291-2350.


As a coordinated and consistent group, Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership (ISAP) focuses on messaging, outreach, training and education for farmers and their trusted advisers 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: Agriculture Drainage Management Coalition, American Farmland Trust, Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Illinois Central College, Illinois Certified Crop Advisers, Illinois Corn, Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association, Illinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Illinois Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy, Precision Conservation Management, University of Illinois Extension, and  The Nature Conservancy, The Wetlands Initiative, The Zea Mays Foundation.

Posted in

ISAP Coordinator