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329467

Illinois STAR conservation program covers over 85,000 acres

Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (STAR) has concluded its third year of reporting conservation efforts around the state of Illinois.

STAR is an initiative that educates and encourages farmers, ranchers, and landowners to employ conservation management practices that improve water quality and soil health. Fields are evaluated individually and ranked on a 5-STAR scale.

The 2021 growing season saw above-average growing temperatures with below-average rainfall throughout the state.

“Farmers are making tremendous strides in protecting land and nutrients as input prices and availability stay in flux,” says Megan Dwyer, director of Conservation and Nutrient Stewardship with the Illinois Corn Growers Association. “The STAR tool brings farmers an opportunity to measure their practice efforts and develop plans for next season."

For the 2021 crop year, 472 participants utilized the STAR tool on 85,579 acres over 1,579 fields.

In Illinois, 69 Soil & Water Conservation Districts locally administered the program, providing one-on-one technical assistance to farmers and landowners interested in improving their STAR Rating.

Additionally, Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Conservation Districts of Iowa implemented Colorado STAR and Iowa STAR, respectively, for the first time in 2021.

Highlights from the past year

  • The use of no-till and strip-till by Illinois STAR farmers accounted for 47,752 tons of sediment kept out of Illinois waterways, 14,159 pounds of phosphorus kept in the field, and provided climate benefits equal to 27,276 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions kept out of the atmosphere for one year.
  • The use of cover crops by STAR farmers accounted for 25,940 tons of sediment kept out of Illinois waterways, 78,182 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen and 5,903 pounds of phosphorus kept in the field, and provided climate benefits equal to removing the greenhouse gas emissions from 11,666 tonnes from the road for one year.

To read the full report and learn more about the practices supported by STAR, visit https://bit.ly/STARAnnualReport

The initiative has been adopted by SWCDs in Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, Missouri, and Indiana.

On July 1, the 2022 field form will be available through the STAR web app at www.starfreetool.com or through a Soil & Water Conservation District.

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