ISAP Grows & Adds Three New Members

The Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership (ISAP) is growing and continues to broaden its network  for supporting a sustainable ag systems approach to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss in Illinois.

Today, the members of the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership (ISAP), a group that came together to build on the momentum that has been built around soil health, cover crops, water quality, nutrient management and conservation issues, are excited to announce the continuation of its growth and success with the addition of three additional contributing partners: Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association, Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Illinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.

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 to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss.

ISAP’s eight founding members include: The Nature Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, Precision Conservation Management, Illinois Corn, Illinois Central College, The Wetlands Initiative, The Zea Mays Foundation and Soil Health Partnership.

Kris Reynolds, associate Midwest division director for American Farmland Trust, welcomed the new members, “It just makes sense to work together, leveraging our resources and expertise. AFT is proud to be a founding member of this partnership and we’re looking forward to working together for years to come.”

The Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts (AISWCD), is a grass roots organization formed in 1948. It is made up and serves Illinois’ 97 member Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). Soil & Water Conservation Districts work to protect Illinois’ greatest assets – the rich, fertile soils and water resources of the state through strategic conservation efforts. Grant Hammer, executive director of AISWCD notes, “The Association of Illinois Soil & Water Conservation Districts is pleased to join the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership and looks forward to working with other stakeholder organizations to reach mutual conservation goals that promote the AISWCD’S mantra of clean water, healthy soils.”

The Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association (ILICA) is a not-for-profit, trade association that provides contractors education, business and legislative resources. ILICA encourages high standards of workmanship in resource management and land improvement; provides contractors education on the newest technology, practices, standards, regulation and legislation impacting the industry; and gives contractors the necessary business resources and tools to provide their companies growth, sustainability and adequate income. “The Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association is excited to join forces with the Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership to further assist with sustainable agriculture promotion and implementation; goals that inherently align with ILICA’s mission of dedication to the professional conservation of soil, water and natural resources,” stated Ryan Arch, executive director of ILICA.

Illinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever (ILPFQF) is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs. Through their Illinois Farm Bill Biologists partnership, Habitat Strike Team, and Chapters, ILPFQF conducts habitat work across the many landscapes of Illinois for the betterment of wildlife. Primarily focused on private lands, they work to help producers with management decisions that make sense for conservation and production on their farms. “We are really looking forward to promoting the habitat benefits of edge of field practices. With ISAP, we’ll be working with great partners and exploring a new aspect to conservation work in the field with them,” expressed Erin Holmes, Illinois and Indiana state coordinator at PFQF.

The ISAP team is excited to bring aboard new members and groups that will continue to build the momentum towards better agriculture practices in Illinois. Dr. Jill Kostel, The Wetlands Initiative senior environmental engineer and founding ISAP member, expressed, “I’m excited that our partnership is growing with individuals that work across the whole agriculture sector who can provide additional knowledge and technical assistance, specifically around edge-of-field work.”

Caroline Wade, Illinois ag program director for The Nature Conservancy said, “No one organization can do this alone.” She continued, “the key to agriculture’s success in achieving clean water, healthy soils and profitable and resilient farms is to work together, share resources and promote consistent messaging.”

ISAP members have begun planning for the second annual Risk Management Conference “Solving the Resiliency Puzzle” to be held on June 27, 2019 in Dekalb, Illinois. From research results collected through on-farm programs to the pull of agriculture supply chain partners, ISAP will look for evidence that sustainability can be profitable for the farmer while providing benefits for businesses, citizens and rural communities. Details following will be posted on the ISAP website and events page.

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