Illinois Standardizes Soil Health Metrics

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a state-wide program to standardize soil health practices and set clear levels of achievement for farmers engaging in best practices. The program enables IDOA to implement legislation passed this year to increase use of cover crops, strip till, no till, and erosion and sediment control practices. Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources (STAR) is a model program started in Illinois by the Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District. It provides a free tool for farmers and landowners and encourages the use of best practices and decisions that will reduce nutrient and soil loss on their fields. Farmers are evaluated on their crop rotation, tillage, nutrient applications, and use of conservation practices to generate their overall field score. STAR provides scientific validation for the new state law P.A. 103-0494 because all STAR applicants are providing the Department with accurate metrics of performance.