March 04, 2024

Checkoffs partner on water testing initiative

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Soybean Association are teaming up to offer a new water testing initiative challenge for Illinois FFA chapters to learn about nutrient loss and water quality issues facing agriculture.

Through this effort, both corn and soybean checkoff programs seek to help Illinois FFA students understand the importance of water quality and sustainable agronomic practices at a field level.

Illinois FFA chapters that participate will be sent all the necessary supplies to complete this challenge, including resources to interpret their data collection and make better-informed future management decisions.

Each chapter must sample water from a minimum of two agricultural sources and a minimum of five different locations with at least three different cropping practices.

Chapters need to create a summary report including timing of sampling, field characteristics and any recent precipitation events. The report should include initial hypothesis and conclusions drawn after sampling events.

It should also include at least one improvement suggestion for one of the fields sampled including best management practices and why those practices should be considered.

Sampling can be conducted entirely in the spring, entirely in the fall, or a combination of both. First place prize is $2,500, second and third place is $1,250 and fourth through 10th place earns $1,000 for their chapters.

“This challenge provides both a competitive and educational opportunity for FFA chapters to learn about water quality, sustainability and how they can affect crops and soil health,” said ISA Utilization Committee Chairman Jim Martin.

“Partnering with FFA on this initiative allows us to foster an understanding of sustainable production practices in the next generation of farmers and ag professionals.”

“We’re excited to be offering this new program in 2022 and to be partnering with our friends at IL Soybean Association. There’s nothing more fulfilling then helping the youth of FFA discover their talents through hands-on experiences,” added Mark Wilson, Illinois Corn Marketing Board chair.

“As stewards of the land, farmers take conservation seriously so we’re glad the students can explore this firsthand.”

The water testing initiative will be open through Nov. 18 for Illinois FFA chapters. To participate, contact Megan Dwyer, IL Corn nutrient loss reduction manager, at mdwyer@ilcorn.org.