URBANA, Ill. – When making decisions about conservation practices, farmers must weigh financial risks, consider labor availability and cost, and manage time commitments. But the University of Illinois, the Illinois Corn Growers Association, and 30 other partners with agricultural interests have developed a new farmer service program – Precision Conservation Management (PCM) – to help farmers make those decisions. Today, the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that it will make a significant award to PCM to roll out its services in Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky over the next five years.
“We’re partnering with the Farm Business Farm Management Association (FBFM), agricultural commodity organizations, Heartland Science and Technology Group, and many others, and using farmers’ own data to help them efficiently, effectively, and profitably improve water quality and soil health,” says Laura Gentry, Illinois Corn Growers Association director of water quality research and adjunct professor in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences department at U of I.
The PCM program has been specifically designed to help farmers meet the voluntary best management practices suggested in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, which aims to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses (runoff) by 45 percent.
USDA’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie traveled to the Bloomington offices of the Illinois Corn Growers Association on Friday to announce the award, which is part of NRCS’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Partner commitments of cash and in-kind contributions of more than $13 million will add substantial value to the NRCS award.
Gentry adds, “PCM was designed to help farmers make good, financially based, conservation decisions. As part of that goal, PCM will assist farmers with participating in NRCS programs and will demonstrate the good stewardship decisions farmers are making to protect our soil and water resources.”
Farmers can enroll in the PCM program after the 2016 planting season, and can learn more about the program at http://www.precisionconservation.org/.