Pollinators, the busy bees behind the scenes, are essential for sustainability of our ecosystems and natural resources. A coalition of scientists and eleven organizations and agencies in Illinois have developed a mowing resource to help Illinois residents and land managers provide food for pollinators, who in turn do the same for us.
The Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) Mowing Guidance outlines recommendations for landowners and a variety of different land managers on mowing practices that best protect pollinators as they migrate through or live out their lives in Illinois.
“The IMP has been working very hard on articulating a long-range conservation plan for the monarch butterfly,” said Illinois Farm Bureau Associate Director of Natural and Environmental Resources Lyndsey Ramsey. “This guide is the first work product of the IMP Science Committee, and came in response to a lot of questions from farmers and the agriculture sector about how they can mow better to support pollinators. We even developed the second, more detailed document, ‘Mowing on the Farm,’ to get into specifics about what farmers can do on their land.”
The Science Committee is comprised of biology and conservation experts that support the IMP in developing appropriate and effective conservation practices that will improve Illinois for monarch butterflies and other pollinators, in addition to other wildlife that benefit from the same habitat.
The Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) was established to bring together representatives of various sectors, including natural lands, rights-of-way, urban and agricultural sectors, as well as scientists and educators. The mission of IMP is to help monarch butterflies thrive throughout Illinois by collaborating on conservation activities and encouraging engagement by public and private landowners across diverse urban and rural landscapes.
“All of the sectors involved are trying to do the best we can for wildlife, and we believe this guide answers a lot of the questions surrounding pollinator-friendly mowing strategies for rural roadsides, habitat areas, working lands and urban yards and campuses,” said Sue Hargrove, Science Committee Chair and biologist at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
Some of the main mowing concepts proposed by the Science Committee include:
View both Mowing Guidance documents at: http://www.ilfb.org/MowingOnTheFarm.
Working with scientists and releasing a mowing guidance document was a goal articulated by the agriculture sector in their Agriculture Action Plan for the monarch. You can read more at www.ilagformonarchs.org.
University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners offer a free service answering garden questions at their Horticulture Help Desk. The Help Desk is open 1:00-4:00pm, Monday thru Friday throughout the growing season (April – Sept.)
Master Gardeners research topics about insects, trees, shrubs, plants, vegetables, fruits, gardens, lawns, and more. They provide research-based answers to questions, and take time to find the information you need for your specific circumstance.
The Master Gardeners can be reached by calling 815-544-3710 (Boone) and 815-986-4357 (Winnebago), emailing in your question to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or by stopping at the office located at 205 Cadillac Court, Suite 3 in Belvidere or 1040 North Second Street in Rockford, IL. Master Gardener volunteers will ask you diagnostic questions to understand your horticulture situation, then they will call you back after they have done their research. They do not make house calls.
Clients are encouraged to email or bring in photos or drop off samples of their troubled plants, trees, or shrubs. Call for tips on how to collect samples.
Due to the extreme wet weather conditions experienced this growing season, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has introduced a targeted cover crop initiative program. The Prevented Planting Cover Crop (PPCC) incentive program is one of two cover crop programs being administered by IDOA this year. To qualify for the PPCC program producers had to have chosen the Prevented Planting option in their USDA RMA crop insurance program for 2019 and use cover crops on their prevented planting acres for weed control.
“Due to a high number of farmers taking Prevented Planting, we felt a cover crop initiative would benefit farmers and the soil—a win/win for both.,” said John Sullivan, Director, IDOA. “Cover crops help to control weeds on the Prevented Planting acres, conserve and prevent erosion of the soil and reduce nutrient runoff while the land lays fallow for the next growing season.”
IDOA has identified $400,000 to be used for the incentive program which is designed to help ease some of the pressure farmers face during this challenging weather season. To take advantage of this program producers will need to complete three required forms and documents which are available at their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) or FSA office:
• FY20 Prevented Planting / Cover Crop Incentive Application and payment form (PP/CC1)
• Agreement and Terms Contract (PP/CC-1A)
• Copies of USDA-Farm Service Agency form 578
Once these forms and documents have been completed, applicants need to contact their local SWCD office to schedule an appointment to review and finalize the application process.
Feel free to contact your local county SWCD office or the IDOA’s Bureau of Land and Water Resources at (217) 782-6297, for additional information.
“Considering Cover Crops?” is a newly-published resource for Illinois farmers that provides a comprehensive guide to the most recent research and intelligence for effectively incorporating a cover crop ahead of corn, soybeans, and wheat. The Guide outlines comprehensive tactics for cover crop use as part of a nutrient management strategy. Research results from planting to termination of cover crops are included.
With funding from the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC), researchers from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Purdue University are studying the various variables involved in a successful cover crop program. This research has been performed at an on-farm, field-scale level in several locations across Illinois and over multiple years. Researchers have planted cereal rye as a cover crop because it is easy to establish, hardy and easy to terminate – but emphasize that the same principles associated with rye can be used with wheat or winter barley as a cover crop.
The publication offers recommendations, observations, and advice to Illinois farmers on choice of cover crop, plus the timing of seeding and termination. The guide also features detailed photos that clearly illustrate the production practices being discussed.
As defined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, Illinois has a target of reducing nitrogen (N) losses by 410 million pounds and P losses by 38 million pounds by 2025. Cover crops are identified as an important tool in meeting that target. NREC’s investment in this research helps to support the collaboration across the agricultural industry, environmental groups, and engaged stakeholders.
The 12-page guide is available for download from the Illinois NREC website at https://www.illinoisnrec.org/cover-crop-guide-2-0/. Printed copies can be requested by emailing Julie.email@example.com.
As you may or may not know, the monarch butterfly is in decline and they need milkweeds and other nectar sources to be planted across the landscape to support their fantastic tri-national migration. One of the key frustrations many gardeners, conservationists, and land managers face in their conservation efforts is the inability to find locally appropriate milkweed plants to provide this much-needed habitat.
In response, Monarch Watch has created the Milkweed Market to assist those who are looking for regionally appropriate milkweeds to incorporate into their garden, restoration, landscaping, or to sell in their garden center. The Milkweed Market provides the opportunity to get low cost or free (for non-profits and schools) milkweed seedlings for your projects. You simply need to order ahead of time, to make sure they can meet the upcoming year's demand.
As part of a North American Pollinator Protection Campaign effort, members of the Monarch Task Force are working to spread the word about this great resource and let you know that the time to order is now. Please see the below message from Monarch Watch to find out more, and share this with your network as you see fit!
Monarch Watch is excited to report that with our partner nurseries in Kansas, Oklahoma, California, and Florida, we distributed over 147,000 milkweed seedlings in 2018. Planning for Spring 2019 begins now. Preorders and early applications are necessary to help us determine how many plants we need to grow.
Please help get the word out about these three ways to get milkweed plants, and put your order in now!
1. Milkweeds are available for purchase by the flat through our Milkweed Market. Preorder for Spring 2019 here: https://monarchwatch.org/milkweed/market/
2. We have funding in place to distribute 100,000 FREE milkweeds for restoration projects. We are currently accepting applications for Spring 2019. The link to the free milkweed information page and application is provided below. This grant provides free milkweeds for large-scale (2+ acres) habitat restorations on both private and public lands. http://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/milkweed/free-milkweeds-for-restoration-projects/
3. Through a separate grant, schools and educational non-profit organizations can apply for one free flat of milkweed for Spring 2019 at this link: https://biosurvey.ku.edu/application-free-milkweed-nonprofits-and-schools
Thank you for your help in spreading the word and planting more milkweed for monarchs. If you do not see milkweed available for you now, re-visit the Milkweed Market later to see if we have added products based on new seed acquisitions.
Please contact Dena Podrebarac at Monarch Watch with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prairie Bounty of Illinois, a directory of direct-from-the-farm sellers, farmers’ markets and agritourism businesses, is available online at www.specialtygrowers.org/prairie-bounty.html
Provided by the Illinois Farm Bureau® and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association, the directory contains contact information and locations for more than 900 individual growers of fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout Illinois. The directory also provides consumers with farms’ contact information, products available, method of sale, and a complete list of all community farmers markets and agritourism businesses in Illinois, searchable by city, county, or zip code.
“Consumers are demanding more of the food they purchase. They want to make that connection with the farmer and know who grew the food on their table,” said Jim Fraley, Manager of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association.
This directory helps consumers do just that — support local farmers and buy farm-fresh produce and products at farms and farmers markets across the state. Prairie Bounty has become a great source for retailers as well looking to find growers to provide product for restaurants, grocery stores, and schools, among others.
The directory is regularly updated as growers add their names and markets to the system. Growers interested in adding their names and businesses to Prairie Bounty of Illinois may contact Jim Fraley at 309-557-3109 or via e-mail at email@example.com, or may visit the Illinois Specialty Growers website at www.specialtygrowers.org for additional instructions on how to register.
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