The Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District and its farmer board members developed a FREE tool to assist farm operators and land owners in evaluating their nutrient and soil loss management practices on individual fields. The purpose of S.T.A.R. is to motivate those making cropping decisions to use conservation management practices that will ultimately meet the goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. To meet those goals for the agriculture sector, farmer’s need to reduce the nitrogen and phosphorus losses by applying nitrogen when the plants need it and by preventing soil losses by reducing tillage.
The S.T.A.R. (Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources) evaluation system assigns points for each cropping, tillage, nutrient application and soil conservation activity used on individual fields. The practices selected and the point values assigned are determined by a group of scientists and researchers, including some farmers who are involved in research. That “Science Advisory Committee” bases their analysis of recommended practices on the potential contribution to the goals of the NLRS. The total points are used in a scale to determine a rating of 1 to 5 Stars for each individual field.
The potential benefits and value of using this program include:
Decreased nutrient loss, gain new farms to lease as land owners can evaluate tenants’ contributions to conservation, assist in securing local conservation cost share (when available), reduce crop insurance premiums, assist producers in obtaining documentation to support potential water quality issues, and assist producers to obtain potential market incentives for sustainable cropping practices.
Visit the S.T.A.R. website at www.starfreetool.com.
If you want to participate in S.T.A.R., complete a Field Form for a field that you want to have rated. You are welcome to complete one form for ALL of your fields to have them evaluated. The cost is the same…. free!