Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky will be the proving ground for land and water conservation across the United States. The efforts aim to reduce the amount of chemical runoff to keep the land fertile and increase water quality.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservationist Ivan Dozier says the land features and soil in the Midwest may be different, but that doesn’t change how the program would be implemented nationwide. “The techniques that we’re using here, how they’re going to be able to use the data, how they’re going to be able to relate to the farmers; I think that’s something that can be shared across the country.”
USDA Undersecretary Robert Bonnie says it’s an educational opportunity for farmers. “Others from outside will learn how to do this, to see a better model in practice, and we think, as a result of that, that this project may have a ripple effect far beyond Illinois.”
The U.S.D.A. announced their financial support of the project, called the Precision Conservation Management program, at the Bloomington-based Illinois Corn Growers Association. The organization, along with 29 partners, submitted the proposal along with their pledge to put $13 million on the table to support it.
USDA Undersecretary Robert Bonnie says he’s impressed by the “level of commitment from everybody around this project.” The PCM program will receive $5.3 million from the USDA as part of appropriations from the Agricultural Act of 2014.
The program will provide technical assistance, information, and direct funding for conservation efforts to individual farmers. People who want to get involved will be able to sign up at Natural Resources Conservation Service offices in all three states.