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Conservation Corner

Improving Water Quality One Farm At A Time

Fri, April 20, 2018

Improving Water Quality One Farm At A Time

Water quality concerns are a growing priority in urban and rural communities everywhere. The State of Illinois’ Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy identifies goals and tactics to address issues using voluntary solutions. Conservation options from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offer farmers technical and financial assistance—that means guidance and dollars—to help you do the right thing. That’s exactly what David Olson is doing on his farm in Vermilion County.

Olson tapped into special funds through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). NWQI offers solutions through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, which helps producers install conservation farm solutions that reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and other pathogens from local water sources. Farmers and operators interested in addressing water quality concerns can apply for EQIP funds at any time and start improving water quality today.

Because water in Lake Vermilion serves as the drinking water source for the City of Danville, it’s even more important that local farmers like Olson do their part to support local and statewide water quality improvement efforts.

David and Amy Olson farm about 1,800 acres in Vermilion and Iroquois Counties. Their Century farm is home to many conservation practices and management techniques, but Olson needed some financial help to cover costs associated with adding more cover crops on his farms. He signed up for EQIP through the NWQI and was approved for funding.

NRCS District Conservationist Adam Wyant was glad to see a local farmer step up to add even more conservation to his acres in this important watershed. “Cover crops and soil health improvements are hot topics these days. David is a long-time believer in the benefits they can bring,” Wyant explains. Over the years, Olson has worked with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and others to host field day events at his farm to show others what he’s learned.

“But there are costs and expenses to make those changes in my operation,” says Olson. “And if I can get some of that covered because I’m doing the right thing to help fix the community’s drinking water? That’s an easy decision,” Olson adds. EQIP funds helped Olson develop a plan, select the perfect species to address issues on his fields, and pay for seed and application costs.

“All farmers in Illinois can take steps to protect their soils and make improvements for their farm and local water supplies just like David. If every farmer and landowner here did just one new conservation practice on their farm, we could drastically impact poor conditions in the Mississippi River Basin and beyond,” Wyant said.

Are you ready to make a difference and improve water quality on your farm? Get in touch with your local NRCS office and start the conservation conversation.

To read David Olson’s full story visit  .

I highly recommend that you go to the link to learn more about Olson and see the pictures that I cannot post due to agency IT security rules.

To find your nearest NRCS team, visit