March 03, 2024

Smart wetland featured at field day

HENRY, Ill. — Two years ago, a Marshall County farm field looked like most of Illinois’ 12 million acres of tile-drained cropland. But in September 2021, a local contractor moved over 6,000 cubic yards of earth to create a smart wetland.

See the resulting tile-treatment wetland at a field day on June 29 and learn about the wetland’s naturally occurring processes that break down the nitrate in the ag tile drainage before the water flows into nearby water bodies.

Smart wetlands are specifically located and custom-designed constructed wetlands to fit within today’s farming operation to remove nutrients.

MK Farm Drainage Specialists built the 1.83-acre wetland at McCuskey Farms under the direction of the Marshall-Putnam Soil and Water Conservation District and The Wetlands Initiative through their smart wetlands program. Martin McCuskey owns the farm, and Rex Newton has farmed it for over 30 years.

The free field day is co-hosted by TWI, McCuskey Farms and M-P SWCD. Rex Newton, staff from M-P SWCD and TWI along with other organizations that support sustainable ag and conservation practices will be on hand to answer questions.

The public, especially farmers, farmland owners and agribusiness professionals, are invited to visit the site between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on June 29.

A free lunch will be served at noon along with presentations on various sustainable agriculture concepts and an update on the U.S. farm bill.

In addition, there will be an event later in the day from 4 to 7 p.m. for the public, conservation professionals and hunters interested in seeing how this practice with native marsh vegetation can provide habitat for wildlife, waterfowl and pollinators and recreational opportunities for landowners on their property.

M-P SWCD and TWI staff along with other conservation professionals will be on hand to answer questions. Snacks and drinks will be served.

The smart wetland installation site is located west of Henry, near the intersection of Marshall County Road 500 East and County Road 1400 North, along the Scholes Branch Creek.

More information about the Smart Wetland field day is online at https://www.smartwetlands.farm/smartwetland5.