As reported in our water quality post last week, the issue of nutrient runoff and water quality is much bigger and more confusing than some people think.  In fact, there are researchers, policymakers, and vocal citizens throughout our nation and our world that believe that the issue can be cleared up with a few well-intentioned, though misguided policies.

We don’t believe that is the case.  And neither does the Illinois Director of Agriculture Bob Flider.

After the U.S. EPA wrote to offer their assistance to Illinois in dealing what they feel is a large agricultural problem, Director Flider returned their offer with an explanation of all the good work we are doing in Illinois to actually figure out the cause of the problem and correct agriculture’s portion.

He cited programs at the University of Illinois to assess the current extent of the problem.  He cited continued work on a strategy to help farmers correct any problem that might be uncovered in our research.  And he cited an extensive amount of programs with the agricultural industry to educate farmers about best management practices to reduce nutrient losses from farm fields.

Agriculture certainly cannot be called lazy as relates to this issue.  Our Keep it for the Crop 2025 program is helping.  The development of the Nutrient Research and Education Council is helping.  And farmers themselves are helping by changing their methods.

How can you be sure that farmers have pure motives to correct the quality of the water around them?  For one, farmers are drinking from wells located right in the middle of their fields.  They aren’t drinking city water that has undergone treatment.  They are just as motived to provide clean water for their families as you are.

And farmers are paying a premium for the nutrients they apply on their fields to help the crops grow.  If the plants aren’t using the nutrients and instead, the nutrients are lost in the water supply, that’s wasted money out of an already extremely tight budget.  Losing nutrients doesn’t make economic sense.

Next week we’ll dive into one such program that is really making a difference on the farms in terms of determining a nutrient loss problem and correcting it!

phil thorntonPhil Thornton
ICGA/ICMB Value Added Director


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