Advanced Conservation Drainage Training

ADVANCED CONSERVATION DRAINAGE TRAINING PROGRAM

Participants in ISAP’s Advanced Conservation Drainage Training Program visited a live saturated buffer installation in Champaign County, IL in June 2019. Photo by Vicki Morrical.

Partners throughout Illinois are working to meet the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, which shows that widespread adoption both of in-field nutrient management and soil health practices and edge-of-field filtration and tile treatment practices will be needed to address nitrogen and phosphorus losses from agricultural lands. ISAP’s Advanced Conservation Drainage Training Program seeks to establish a community of practice for edge-of-field tile treatment practices that incorporates the following elements.

  • Research demonstrating the effectiveness of conservation drainage practices on real farms.
  • Conservation professionals committed to working with landowners to address resource concerns.
  • Drainage contractors dedicated to professional practice installation and continued learning.
  • Landowners and operators who care about clean water and healthy soil.
  • Comprehensive planning tools to enable practice prioritization at the watershed scale.

Cost share programs that can offset costs associated with conservation drainage practice design and installation.

Sharing information on these practices helps farmers and landowners understand the bigger conservation picture and helps overcome the tendency to do nothing.

- ACDT 2019 Participant

Delivering practical information to drive implementation of conservation drainage

ISAP’s conservation drainage program highlights practices like saturated buffersconstructed wetlandscontrolled drainage, and bioreactors, which are effective options for reducing nitrate-nitrogen from tile flow. These workshops are designed for multiple audiences, including farmers and landowners, drainage industry professionals, farm managers, drainage district commissioners, conservation professionals, and watershed coordinators.

ACDT workshops provide participants with knowledge and tools to make conservation drainage practices a standard part of tile installation and farm management. Content includes:

  • Expert-lead presentations on science behind each conservation drainage practice
  • Small group application exercises and hand-on field experiences
  • Overviews of conservation practice standards
  • In-field demonstrations, site visits, and experiences from real landowners
  • Discussions of barriers to edge of field practice adoption
  • Tips for communicating with landowners
  • Discussions on economics and cost share opportunities

ISAP offered ACDT workshops in 2018 (access 2018 resources) and 2019 (access 2019 resources) and produced a virtual series in 2020.

ISAP partners engaged in developing conservation drainage programming include: Ag Drainage Management Coalition, Illinois Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association, Illinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, The Nature Conservancy, The Wetlands Initiative, and University of Illinois Extension. Additional partners include DIGS Associates, Illinois Association of Drainage Districts, Springfield Plastics, USDA Farm Service Agency, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For more information, contact Adrienne Marino | adrienne.marino@tnc.org

In July 2019, a constructed wetland installation led by The Wetlands Initiative, IL Land Improvement Contractors Association, and Illinois Central College was the main attraction at a Tazewell County field day highlighting nutrient loss reduction practices. Photo by IL Land Improvement Contractors.

TO HELP RAISE AWARENESS OF SMART WETLANDS AND TO INFORM FARMERS AND LANDOWNERS ABOUT HOW THESE WETLANDS COULD WORK ON THEIR FARM, TWI RECENTLY LAUNCHED THE WWW.SMARTWETLANDS.FARM WEBSITE.

Our launched website outlines the criteria used to determine if a Smart Wetland is right for a particular tile-drainage system, features photos and engineering designs of two operating Smart Wetlands, reviews the 4-step Process PDF Document TWI uses to design and install the practice, demonstrates how natural processes remove nitrogen and phosphorus from drainage water, and offers suggestions on how to finance the construction of a Smart Wetland.

Stay up-to-date on ISAP's events page for details!