Illinois NREC working to meet Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy goals  

The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council continues to work toward goals set through the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

NREC Executive Director Julie Hewitt tells Brownfield the goal is a 25% reduction in phosphorus loss and 15% reduction in nitrogen loss by 2025, but the data shows numbers are moving in the wrong direction.

“We have seen increases, unfortunately, in both our phosphorus and nitrate exports through our river systems, but we have also seen a pretty significant increase in stream flow. So, we know if there is more water moving, the likelihood is that there are going to be more nutrients.”

She says this is not for lack of effort by Illinois farmers, so partners are doing more research on legacy phosphorus.

“It’s not about how farmers are overapplying or doing anything wrong, it’s looking at what is already in our soil, when does it become available and what kind of weather patterns effect what happens.”

She says research shows one big success so far is that 85% of Illinois corn acres are treated at or below the maximum return to nitrogen rate, which proves farmers are doing their part.

Brownfield interviewed Hewitt during NREC’s Investment Insight Live event in Champaign on Thursday.

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