USDA strongly urges Illinois farmers to participate in water-quality survey
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mailed questionnaires to farmers on July 1 from its National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) Heartland Regional Field Office, and the responses may help shape the quality of farming in the state.
Questions center around techniques used in conjunction with the state’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS), a collaborative effort launched by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Water Resources Center and other entities.
More than 30 states have joined the NLRS initiative in the hopes of improving water quality nationwide. For Illinois, key points include reducing nutrient losses to improve water quality in the state, as well as water leaving the state and working its way down the Mississippi River toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Farmers can expect questions about crop production, including cover crops, tillage, nutrient practices and field maintenance. USDA-NASS emphasized that high numbers of respondents will ensure greater accuracy when tabulating the results. Additionally, the greater the voluntary participation, the lesser the chances USDA will need to initiate mandatory data collection.
The agency plans to complete data collection from farmers by Sept. 15 and intends to conduct the survey on a biannual basis, with the goal of evaluating best-management practices in Illinois farming operations.