NRCS – WHAT IT IS AND WHY WE NEED IT

The NRCS, otherwise known as the Natural Resources Conversation Service, is an organization through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This group works to protect agricultural land and improve conservation practices. There are two branches of the NRCS: AECP, the Agricultural Easement Conservation Program, and HFRP, Healthy Forests Reserve Program.

Let’s talk about the HFRP first. This branch helps protect and preserve forestland on private properties. The goal of the HFRP is to reduce the number of endangered and threaten species, as well as increase plant and animal biodiversity throughout forestlands. A new component of the HFRP includes opening this program to land owned by Indian tribes.

The other branch is the AECP. The goal of this conservation branch is to protect land currently being used in agriculture and preventing it from being sold for non-ag purposes. Many states in the eastern part of the country, such as New York and Pennsylvania, have farmland preservation programs at the county level. The AECP also works to preserve wetlands, which goes to improve

In Illinois, we have the Farmland Protection Program, located in Kane County. A collar county of Chicago, many do not imagine a county with much farmland. However, since it is so close to the city, it is more imperative to ensure the farm acreage stays in agriculture. Being a native Kane county resident, I can say we have a unique layout for our county. We are pretty well split between developed and undeveloped land.

The Farmland Protection Program was established in Kane County in 2001. Since then, there have been over 5,500 acres preserved. How does this program work? Essentially, the county purchases the developing rights of that land. The farmer is still in charge of caring for the land, and can still use the land to grow crops. The only difference is the land must stay in agricultural use, since the county purchased the developing rights. No neighborhoods or shopping centers can be built on protected acres. The land also must continue to be used in agriculture; in other words, the farmers must still utilize the land as part of their operation.

Why are programs like AECP and HFRP important? Because as many of us have heard, the world population will grow to over 9 billion people by the year 2050. With a growing population, we have to have resources to continue to grow food, more than we ever have in the past. With programs through the National Resources Conservation Service, our county is better prepared to help feed the growing world.

Susie Thompson
Illinois State University

DON’T MISS IT! RIDE IN THE TRACTOR AND PLANT CORN WITH AN IL FARMER

Interested in what the farmers are doing in the fields right now?

You can virtually ride in the tractor and plant corn with fifth-generation farmer Justin Durdan in LaSalle County, Illinois.   Justin explains when its time to plant, how he gets the corn seeds into the field and all the prep work that happens before the actual planting day.

You won’t want to miss this!

#TUESDAYTIPS: INTERACTIVE CORN EDUCATION

We’ve talked about Ag Mags before on this blog, mostly as a resource for teachers.

But did you know that these are great starting points for consumer education about agricultural products?

If you’re a grown adult, it might feel silly to read a magazine largely made for school children. However, ag literacy has to start somewhere and the topics covered in these editions are just as relevant and valid for adults as they are for children.

Also, several Ag Mags are interactive.  Not only can you learn information within the Ag Mag itself, there are various videos, online articles, and real-world applications that can serve as jumping off points and supplemental information for the reader.

While we *personally* love this corn edition of the Ag Mag, you can find topics that spread across the agriculture spectrum, all made available by Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom.

So what are you waiting for? Download an Ag Mag today and get to learning!

P.S. to the adults. It’s okay if you want to do the activities made for students. We recommend it (and no one has to know!)

WHAT IS OCTANE?

Ever heard the word “octane” when referring to your vehicle’s fuel? How does it relate to ethanol? Let’s take a look using an infographic from FuelFreedom.org :

Octane is in the news and gaining steam. It likely will be a crucial component of the next round of fuel-economy standards (collectively known as CAFE) for the nation’s fleet of vehicles between now and 2025, a set of rules to be crafted by two federal agencies and California’s influential Air Resources Board. But what is octane, exactly?

We’ve discussed the term, and the wide-ranging benefits high-octane fuels can bring for the public, in previous posts on the Policy CAFE page. But until now we’ve never had a simple, easy-to-understand visual tool that explains the basics.

Here ’tis, suitable for sharing, discussing and framing:

what is octane

For a more detailed discussion, check out our blog post on this topic here.

Landon Hall