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The C-FAR Water Quality Strategic Research Initiative

The mission of the C-FAR Water Quality Strategic Research Initiative is to identify cost-effective approaches for improving Illinois' water quality. This mission has three specific objectives: to evaluate promising Best Management Practices to reduce Illinois farmland nutrient and sediment loss; to more thoroughly understand the reactions and movement of nitrogen through Illinois farmland; and to test and develop techniques to predict the impact of Best Management Practices with respect to economic and environmental goals.

Best Management Practices being field tested in Illinois with respect to yields, water quality, and farm income include fertilizer application rate and timing studies in tile-drained fields, development of riparian zones, installation of shallow tiles, and the adoption of variable-rate technologies. Computer models will help farmers use the new information to predict the potential for these BMPs on their fields.

Although scientists understand the details of the movement of nitrogen in land, water, and crops, there is uncertainty in the rates of transition of nitrogen among different compounds in Illinois agricultural lands. We are carefully studying these transitions in a typical corn-soybean rotation. With this information, we will be better able to predict the implications of alternative management policies in central Illinois.

James Westervelt, Visiting Research Associate
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
(217) 333-5559; westerve@illinois.edu


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