SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois State Conservationist Ivan Dozier has seen conservation efforts in the state evolve during his time in the position.
He reflected on those changes during a speech at the Conservation Cropping Seminar.
“We are on the cusp of something really special for agricultural conservation,” he said. “It takes more than one agency, more than one organization — and it takes all of our farmers to get the conservation on the land.
“We have conservation practices, and we know they work. We just need more of them. That’s true today more than it’s ever been.”
Dozier remembers when the Soil Conservation Service changed its name to the Natural Resources Conservation Service in the mid ‘90s.
“Some people said we would lose our focus on the soil,” he recalled. “I didn’t feel that way for two reasons. One, I know in natural systems everything is connected.
“Two, as a soil scientists, knowing the resources that make up the soil, water, air, plants and animals — those things and those unique combinations give us healthy soil.
“As time has gone on, we’ve seen some other shifts in what we’re looking at as natural resource issues that we have to deal with.”
Nutrient management is an important focus in conservation efforts.
When plants remove nutrients out of the system, they need to be replaced. But it’s crucial to apply the correct amount, and to ensure the nutrients stay where they’re supposed to, Dozier said.
“We’ve been focused on those fragile lands susceptible to erosion,” he said. “And we shouldn’t be done with that. But now we’re moving on to a different place on the landscape.
“There’s not a single acre of agriculture that can’t benefit from conservation practices when we look at nutrient management.”
Dozier remains optimistic about the future of sustainable agriculture.
“It gives me a lot of hope knowing, as we continue to have events like this, conservationists will step up and prove that agriculture can do its part to make a positive change,” he said.