Nine states in the Mississippi River basin have developed strategies to control the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous making its way to the Gulf of Mexico. These plant nutrients contribute to the Hypoxia Zone. During the Farm Progress Show the Illinois Corn Growers Association is offering free tile line water sample testing to help make farmers aware of the plan and the problem.
Let’s start with the problem. The fertilizers used on lawns, gardens, and farms doesn’t always stay put. It leaches into streams and rivers and is carried to the Gulf of Mexico where the plant nutrients cause great algae blooms. These deplete the water of oxygen and aquatic life.
The plan is to voluntarily reduce the plant nutrient load. The first step says Illinois Corn Growers Director of Communications Tricia Braid is to make farmers aware of just how much nitrogen is being lost from their fields. That’s why the Corn Growers are offering free water sample testing at the Farm Progress Show.
Quote Summary - Because farmers want to keep the nutrients applied for the crop where the crop needs it. If it is starting to move out of your tiles, that is lost money for the farmer and also a potential problem for the water quality. So we are working at awareness here and helping people get an understanding of what nitrogen movement means on their farms.
This awareness campaign is also related to the recent release of the Illinois Nutrient Reduction Loss strategy. It is a document put forth by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Agriculture that sets some clean water goals for all the stake holders in Illinois to achieve.
Quote Summary - So, agriculture plays a big part in that. We are not the only people involved. We understand that, but we certainly do have a role to play. The example we have for the Decatur area, the site of the Farm Progress Show, is that on average tile drained ground in the Sangamon River Watershed loses about 26 pounds of nitrogen per acre per year. That adds up. If it is leaving the tile, it is not helping the crop, and it is going somewhere unintended. We really want folks to understand how nutrients are moving at different times of the year.
Those wanting to have their tile line water tested can bring an 8 ounce sample to the Illinois Corn Growers Association tent at the Farm Progress Show. Collect the sample within 48 hours of arriving. Keep it refrigerated until you leave for the show. If you’d like more results you can do a flow test. Just count off how many seconds it takes the tile line to fill a five gallon bucket.