Extension Ag Update
 May/June  2002
Articles Research Resources Internet Links Ag Facts Education


The Illinois Manure Management Plan Workbook

Scientist: Randy Fonner, Extension Specialist, (217) 333-2611, refonner@uiuc.edu
Source: Leanne Lucas, (217) 244-9085, llucas@uiuc.edu

University of Illinois Extension specialists have developed a new workbook that will guide livestock producers through the mire of manure management. The Illinois Manure Management Plan Workbook is a user-friendly resource that takes producers step-by-step through the development of a manure management plan. Developed by U of I Extension specialist Randy Fonner and Ted Funk, agricultural engineer, the resource assists livestock producers in complying with Illinois regulations.

In 1996, Illinois passed the Livestock Management Facilities Act, which requires livestock producers with over 300 animal units to receive training in manure management handling. Producers with over 1,000 animal units must have a written manure management plan available for inspection and submit a form certifying the existence and location of their plan. Producers with over 5,000 animal units must have their management plan approved by the state.

To begin the planning process, step one in the workbook lists all of the information that producers need to complete a plan. Fonner stressed the importance of this step. "Pull your information together, all of it, before you sit down and do your plan," he said. "If you're missing pieces, every time you get up to look for something, you risk getting sidetracked and never getting back to it."

Subsequent steps detail a specific section of the regulations and include a sample form to help complete that step. The workbook also provides instructions on filling out each of the forms, tips to help producers organize their information in a separate three-ring binder and suggestions on when and how to update their plan. An extensive appendix offers additional information relevant to livestock management.

Once a producer has gathered all the information required in step one, Fonner believes anyone can walk themselves through the process in four to six hours. "Just remember," he emphasized, "everything must be in writing. You must show your calculations and you have to justify your numbers. If you say your yield is 300 bushels of corn per acre, then you better be able to prove it."

After producers have completed their plans, most of the data entry is behind them. "Then the hardest part may be keeping track of what you're doing during the year and having those notes available when you go to do your update," Fonner said. Keeping your plan updated is also crucial, he stressed. For example, producers are required in their plan to show a four-year crop rotation. But what if they change their minds? "Account for that in your update," Fonner said. "Nobody's going to hold your toes to the fire, just because you say you're going to plant corn there in 2005. That's a long way away. Who knows what will change? Just account for those changes."

The workbook has been designed to be used with or without a computer. According to Fonner, "There are probably six-to-eight software packages out there that will help crunch numbers and print reports, but none of them will do the whole plan." However, the package producers receive will include a CD that has a copy of the manual and copies of the Excel spreadsheets used in the manual. More information can be found at www.livestocktraining.com.

For producers who want more hands-on training, workshops are held around the state 10 to 12 times a year. Because the program is intense, only four or five producers attend each workshop. Attendees are given two- to three-weeks' notice to compile their records. Then, together with Extension instructors, they work through the day to put together their management plan. "Producers don't get into the business of raising livestock because they like to shuffle papers," said Fonner. "A manure management plan is just one more thing they're required to do. We put this book together to help them do their job. It's complete. It ties it all together."

The Illinois Manure Management Workbook is available for $45 plus postage and can be ordered through the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences marketing and distribution office at 1-800-345-6087.

Nonconventional Soil Additives: Products, Companies, Ingredients, and Claims

Released in Nov. 2001, this 95-page report lists non-traditional product ingredients, claims and research. Find out what research has been done on a product you are thinking about using in your production system.

New Yield Estimates Available for Illinois Soils

Scientist: Kenneth Olson, (217) 333-9639, k-olson1@uiuc.edu
Source: Gary Beaumont, (217) 333-9440, beaumont@uiuc.edu

Updated crop yield estimates for every soil type in Illinois, now available through the University of Illinois, will help meet needs of farmers, land appraisers and government agencies, according to Ken Olson, professor of pedology.

Two publications released by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences provide soil productivity ratings for over 700 Illinois soil types. Average Crop, Pasture, and Forestry Productivity Ratings for Illinois Soils or Bulletin 810 provides the 10-year average crop yields under the average management used by all Illinois farmers in the 1990s. Optimum Crop Yields for Illinois Soils or Bulletin 811 shows the 10-year average crop yields under an optimum level of management used by the top 16 percent of Illinois farmers for all soil types.

"The average (productivity rating) tends to be used by farm managers and for land tax assessment purposes," Olson said. "The optimum (productivity rating) tends to be used for land appraisal, sales, and some government agencies." Determining how much property tax a farmer will pay is one use of the average productivity ratings. The average management standard represents the crop yields that are obtained or exceeded by 50 percent of the Illinois farmers, he said.

"In Illinois, agricultural land assessment is based on the average condition including the crop rotations used in the region and does not force users to the optimum management level or require more row crops in the rotation" Olson said. "Land users who manage their farms at an optimum level have greater input costs which offset part of the profits from higher crop yields. In an attempt to be uniform and fair to all land owners, they all pay land taxes based on the average level of management." The information can also be used for land use planning, sustainable farm management and accurate land appraisal. Past, present and future yields may be applied to land valuation, crop insurance, nutrient management plans and other farm business, he said.

Yield data was gathered from the previously established yield estimates for each soil based on 1970s data and updated using 20-year crop yield trends, Illinois Agricultural Statistics Staff records, summary of Illinois Farm Business Farm Management records, research plots, variety trials, check plots on farmer’s fields and crop yield monitors coupled with global positioning systems, Olson said.

County soil survey reports and maps, prepared as part of the ongoing, 100 year old Illinois Cooperative Soil Survey Program, are used to match soil types located on a farm or parcel with yield data. Much of this soil survey data was collected during the last 25 years and exists for every county in the state, he said. "We’re assuming that the soil doesn’t change dramatically in a 25 year period, but yields, if they were assigned 25 years ago, would be different than they are now," Olson said. "So that’s why we’re using the up-to-date yields for the same soil."

Crop and forage rotation was also a factor in determining the soil productivity ratings. Federal farm bills and the state "T by 2000" program with conservation provisions have caused Illinois farmers to alter practices and crop rotations to reduce soil loss from erosion. The productivity ratings offered in the publications are a good indicator of the suitability of soils for crop production, Olson said.The ratings can be used to determine the best use and management of soils. The average soil productivity ratings in Bulletin 810 range on a numeric scale from 43 to 130. The highest rated soil, Muscatine silt loam, was assigned a rating of 130. The 10-year average crop yield estimates for all other soils in the state are compared with the 10-year average crop yields of Muscatine silt loam to determine productivity indices for the other soils. For example, Drummer, the new official Illinois State soil, has an average productivity rating of 127.

Also, the publications show a simple method for adjusting yields and productivity for slope and erosion, he said. "The objective is to have all the soils expressed on the same standard and we recognize that management level affects yield unless there is an unusual year with a drought or flooding," Olson said.

The Average Crop, Pasture, and Forestry Productivity Ratings for Illinois Soils bulletin also includes information on pasture and the effects of soil on tree growth for seven tree species. "It’s a multi-use data set." Olson said. "It’s not specific for one purpose – conservation, nutrient management, crop production or appraisal. It’s got a variety of uses."

Copies of Bulletin 810 and Bulletin 811 can be obtained for $3.00 and $2.50, respectively, by calling toll free 800-345-6087. Up-to-date versions are available for no charge in PDF format online at http://research.nres.uiuc.edu/soilproductivity/.

National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)


NPIC provides comprehensive information to the public on specific pesticide chemicals, including toxicological and medical information. The Center is funded by the EPA and housed at Oregon State University. Contact the center at 800-858-7379 from 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (MST)

Understanding Soil Phosphorus: An Overview of Phosphorus, Water Quality, and Agricultural Management Practices

Scott Sturgul, Nutrient Management Specialist, NPM Program and Dr. Larry Bundy, Professor Soil Science Department of Soil Science

This color publication discusses issues associated with phosphorus and its potential for impact on the environment. Specific topics include the phosphorus cycle, nomenclature, sources, transport, and a summary of agricultural management practices for minimizing the impact of phosphorus on water quality. p. 32

Copies can be ordered from the NPM Program at 608-265-2660 or npm@hort.wisc.edu.

Urban and Agricultural Communities: Opportunities for Common Ground


In addition to food, fiber, ornamental plants and forestry production, this report defines agriculture as including major components that range from food safety technologies to natural resource programs and to the people and organizations involved in agricultural policy, public education, and related agricultural service industries. The report provides an extensive discussion of the ways that agriculture already contributes to urban communities, such as storm water management, air quality, and economic benefits as well as community and human health and recreational opportunities. It also proposes initiatives that the agricultural system, higher education programs and governments must undertake jointly to remain relevant to society. Research, extension and educational opportunities are addressed for each initiative described in the report. The report suggests five important initiatives within which agriculture
can play a significant role.

For a copy go to the CAST website or contact the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, 4420 West Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014-4512, Phone: 515-292-2125, Ext. 31

The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture

James E. Horne, Ph.D. and Maura McDermott, 2002

Horne is president of the nonprofit Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Poteau, and McDermott is communications director of that same institution. Topics include: major problems of contemporary industrial agriculture, historical roots of sustainable agriculture, definitions of sustainable agriculture, the politics of sustainable agriculture, ways to demonstrate sustainable agriculture practices, changes needed to encourage a sustainable agriculture, and the eight steps to a sustainable agriculture which address soil health and erosion, water quality and use, organic waste management, crop and livestock adaptation, biological diversity, environmentally-benign pest management, energy use, and farm diversification and profitability.

To order contact the Kerr Center at 918-647-9123 or from Haworth Press, 1-800-HAWORTH

A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction

Carl Kurtz

This book provides a concise overview of the planning, establishment and maintenance of a reconstructed prairie. The book includes more than 20 beautiful color photographs and an extensive list of suppliers and references. p. 54

For a copy contact: University of Iowa Press, 100 Kuhl House, Iowa City, IA, 52242-1000. Phone: 319-335-2000 or 773-568-1550, Fax: 319-335-2055.

On the web at: http://www.uiowa.edu/~uipress/, E-mail: uipress@uiowa.edu

The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems

Dana Jackson, Land Stewardship Project Associate Director and Dr. Laura Jackson, University of Northern Iowa – Biology

This book promotes the idea that restoration of a relationship between farming and the natural world enhances the sustainability of both. Contributors bring together insights and practices from the fields of conservation biology, sustainable agriculture and ecological restoration to link food and farming to biological diversity, and celebrate a unique alternative to conventional agriculture. Rejecting the idea that "ecological sacrifice zones" are a necessary part of feeding a hungry world, the book offers compelling examples of an alternative agriculture that can produce not only healthful food, but also fully functioning ecosystems and abundant populations of native species.

To order this 250-page book, log onto the Island Press Web site at www.islandpress.org and click on the "Spring '02 Catalog." You can also order from the publisher by calling toll free 1-800-828-1302.