2023 FALL Fish Sale
The Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District is now accepting orders for the 2023 FALL Fish Sale. The sale is planned for Thursday, Oct 19th at 8:00 a.m. Many species of live fish for pond stocking will be available including Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Regular and Hybrid Bluegill, Redear, Fathead Minnows and Grass Carp for pond maintenance. Order forms can be obtained by calling 217-532-3361 extension 3. The Montgomery County SWCD is an equal opportunity employer and provider.
Regenerative Grazing Schools
The Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition (ILGLC) is offering two upcoming regenerative schools. The first one is Sept 8 & 9 and the second one is Sept 15 & 16, 2023. The grazing schools will provide an opportunity for farmers to come and learn firsthand from leading regenerative grazing experts. The benefits of regenerative grazing go beyond improving soil health, water quality, and biodiversity. It can also have a very positive impact on a producer's bottom line through increased animal performance and lower feed costs. Registration can be completed at www.illinoisgrazingschools.com or by contacting Christian Lovell- ILGLC Coordinator- email@example.com
The mission of the Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District is to ensure a leadership role in natural resource conservation, provide technical service and information to the people of Montgomery County that will control and prevent soil erosion, prevent air and water pollution, conserve wildlife, grassland and forest land, and ensure land use conversion is properly managed and to correctly identify areas that should remain as wetlands.
Glenn Shoals Lake Meeting
Soil And Water District Discuss Water Pollution
By Isaiah Atkins- Originally Published by Hillsboro Journal
The Montgomery County Soil and Water Conservation District (MCSWCD) met at the Hillsboro Water Treatment Plant on Tuesday, Aug. 1, to discuss the water treatment process and what farmers can do to help reduce nutrient pollution in the Glenn Shoals Lake.
Nutrient pollution and sedimentation runoff are caused by erosion, pushing farm chemicals and sediments into the lake, with potentially harmful effects on the water supply.
The pH levels are especially important in water treatment and can be easily thrown off balance should there be a major algae bloom on the water. While not all algae are bad, Ferguson says, when it reaches large blue or green stages, it can affect the pH levels in the water. The pH levels are critical because of their effect on the chemical reactions and the effectiveness of chemicals put in the water. Algae blooms can be caused by lack of rain, low winds, and sun, providing a stagnant environment perfect for algae to grow out of control. A popular comment would be to suggest that the city considers treating the lake to prevent algae blooms. However, Ferguson notes, that action would have consequences. The treatment would likely kill stocked fish that are living near the surface, and Mayor Don Downs adds that the city regularly commits upwards of $15,000 to stock the lake each year. Additionally, the system uses copper-based products that could be subject to oxidation from chemicals. Ferguson added that he is looking into the possibility of installing a few mixers around the lake to combat algae as well as sediment buildup. The mixers would keep the water in constant motion, and keep the phosphorus from attaching to clumps of sediment and entering the water.
The weekly boating cycle also adds a complication to the process, as the lack of boating on weekdays allows for more algae growth, compared to the busy weekends which break it up. The goal would be to install mixers and ensure the lake could maintain solid dissolved oxygen levels and continue being a consistent water source for the plant, Ferguson says. He admits that the ever-changing regulations and expenses also add difficulties. Ferguson did explain that most pollutants found in the lake are already in the lake, referring to the manganese and dissolved phosphorus found in the bottom. “Plastics and ‘forever’ chemicals are not a problem here,” he added, with the local agriculture in contrast to the more urban and industrial locations, which are reporting plastics and other hazardous chemicals regularly.
“Our problems are not the fertilizers,” he told the group of farmers. “Our problem is erosion.” And with erosion comes the larger threat, nitrates.
“This facility cannot handle nitrates found in the water,” Ferguson said, before adding that not many modern plants can. “A nitrate bloom would lead to a do not consume order, not a boil order, a do not consume order.”
Fortunately, nitrate levels have yet to ever reach that concentration in the water. Algae also is beneficial for healthy nitrate levels. While touring the facility, MCSWCD director Jason Anderson pointed out just how much we take clean water for granted. “It’s such a long process,” he said, referring to the plant, “We turn on the tap and don’t even think about it.”
After touring the facility, the district traveled to the nearby Firemen’s Clubhouse for a lunch, catered by Milanos Catering and sponsored by the American Farmland Trust. Kris Reynolds, Midwest regional director of the trust then gave an informational talk about the new ADM Re:Generations program for Illinois farmers. The program, which is funded for the next four years and will provide farmers yearly contracts, incentivizes the use of acres as cover crops, at rates of $25 per acre for new 2023 acres and $10 to $15 for returning or current cover crop acres.
Cover crop refers to the system of planting crops in fields that would otherwise be bare—in between growing seasons, for example—improving the soil by protecting it from erosion and nutrient loss. Cover crops also help smother weeds, control pests and diseases, enhance water availability, and increase biodiversity on the farm, similar to a living mulch.
Reynolds explained that the program, a collaboration with ADM, is available for any farmer in the state, with 225,000 acres available. Acres cannot be paid for cover crop on the same acres by federally funded programs such as EQIP, CSP or RCPP, and must be registered by Nov. 17. Payments on the acres can be stacked, Reynolds adds.
This program is also beneficial because of its wide acceptance rate, while similar cover crop programs such as EQIP are facing massive amounts of applications and a $30 million backlog.
“The number one way to reduce the nutrient run off to the lakes is to cover crops,” Anderson added.
Despite the environmental benefits of cover crops, only two percent of farmer’s use them. While Montgomery County had the second high number of acres enlisted in the program last year, more can be done.
Reynolds expressed that the AFT is hoping to develop and connect a network of watershed farmers, to streamline the delivery of incentives, all the while being led by farmers. One of the biggest obstacles is that farmers don’t like being told how to farm, attendee David Kleinschmidt said. Kleinschmidt is a consultant who works one-on-one with farmers and landowners to implement covers on their fields. Stress and stigma were also listed as obstacles to cover crops by several members.
The group then brainstormed possible avenues to higher recruitment to the program and cover crop acres.
Dick Lyons, an associate MCSWCD director, stressed the importance of one-on-one communication, saying that the best way to convince more farmers to enroll in the program is through personal phone calls and direct conversations.
Kleinschmidt added that the district should emphasize educating the next generation of farmers on more eco-friendly methods, such as cover crops. He continued that lots of farmers are involved on social media platforms and finding a way to better promote the Re:Generations program through those channels could be very beneficial.
Lyons added that additionally, landowners should be contacted as many farmers are tenants on someone else’s land. He provided a testimony of his own experience being contacted by a land owner, who after a conversation decided to enroll in a program and grow cover crops.
Anderson expressed the need for better training for district volunteers so that they are prepared with options and information when reaching out to farmers enrolled in the program or growing cover crops.
In addition to benefiting the environment, there will be IRS tax breaks in 2025, which raises the importance of enrollment in the cover crop program in 2023, as the fall cover crops will affect the 2024 cash crops, which are used in the 2025 records.
Mayor Downs emphasized the need to host another public meeting with farmers to discuss the benefits of cover crops and promote the program.
The participants then traveled to the North Marina for a boat tour of the facilities and lake.
The Montgomery County Soil and Water District is a local unit of government who has partnered with the City of Hillsboro to develop a new watershed plan to aid in the future of Glenn Shoals Lake. For more information on the MCSWD, visit www.montswcd.com, or call 217-532-3361, ext. 3.
The American Farmland Trust is a national organization focused on protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. For more information on the Midwest programs, visit farmland.org/midwest.
The Re: Generations program is a collaboration between the trust and the ADM and aims to build soil health through cover crop incentives, easy enrollment and free technical support. For more information on the program visit farmland.org/icci.
Enrollment deadline for cover crop incentives is Nov. 17, 2023. For more information about enrollment, contact Torey Colburn at 815-315-0192 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) were founded in the midst of the Dust Bowl Era to meet an educational and technical need for conservation. These districts were to hire conservation professionals who could educate and assist local land users whose farming practices were contributing to the wind and water erosion happening on rural and urban soils. In Montgomery County the district was formed in the county seat of Hillsboro in 1941. The Montgomery County SWCD is still very active in the county more than eighty years later.
The SWCD is a unit of local government which is held to state statute and is governed by a board of five elected officials who either reside in or own property within its boundaries. The board meets monthly to conduct its business. The office is staffed with one full time employee and office space is provided by its federal partner, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
10 Reasons To Know Your SWCD
1. Not Just For Farmers Anymore
2. Conservation Delivery Infrastructure
3.Technical Know How
5. Cost-effective, multipurpose tools
6. Trusted Resources
7. One Stop Access to State and Federal Programs
8. Citizen Oriented
9. Voluntary, Incentive Based Solutions
10. Educating the Future