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Nutrient Loss Reduction

The NLRS, nitrogen applications, & crop insurance

Field of corn

Are you a farmer who's been dealing with the challenges of split-applying nitrogen or considering post-planting applications but worried about the risks? Episode 60 of the Illinois Nutrient Reduction Podcast discusses the Post-Application Coverage Endorsement Crop Insurance (PACE) Policy for 2024 from a recent FarmDoc webinar with Megan Dwyer, Director of Conservation and Nutrient Stewardship with Illinois Corn Growers Association and Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois College of ACES Professor and Soybean Industry Chair in Agricultural Strategy.  

What is PACE? 

Schnitkey and Dwyer explain that PACE is a crop insurance product that provides payments when a farmer is not able to apply nitrogen to corn after planting due to weather-related causes. It offers additional protection in situations where a producer intends to split-apply nitrogen but is unable to due to adverse weather conditions in the field. This allows farmers to adopt split-application methods to enhance efficiency, reduce nitrogen runoff, and optimize their financial returns. 


Dwyer highlights the importance of PACE by explaining its objectives aimed at supporting the reduction of nutrient loss in the Mississippi River Basin, while also providing context on states Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategies (NLRS). Developed to support the goals of nutrient loss reduction, PACE aims to provide a safety net for farmers to help with reducing the financial risk tied to the post-application of nitrogen. She emphasizes the importance of finding solutions that look at the environmental and economic impacts of nutrient loss, and PACE aims to support that mission.  

PACE in action 

Schnitkey explains that PACE provides payment if a farmer cannot apply nitrogen to corn after planting due to weather-related events. This endorsement operates similar to event insurance, ensuring that farmers receive compensation for unforeseen circumstances that stop them from being able to apply nitrogen. He reveals that PACE is available where non-irrigated corn is insurable in all counties of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and in select counties of Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota.  

Farmers can choose between coverage levels ranging from 75% to 90%, with premiums varying accordingly. He states that the coverage level selected directly impacts the indemnity amount, offering flexibility to farmers based on financial reasons and how much risk they want to take. Furthermore, Schnitkey explains that PACE requires farmers to initiate the claim process, similar to hail insurance.  

Addressing climate challenges 

As we continue to experience a changing climate and more intense weather events, PACE steps in as a proactive effort for farmers to manage the risks that are linked to unpredictable weather and nitrogen application timing. By splitting up nitrogen applications, nutrients are available to the plant when they are most needed and this decreases the risk of losing the nutrients through leaching. This improves nitrogen use efficiency. Split nitrogen applications are a practice that is part of a suite of practices outlined within the Illinois NLRS. 

Additional resources 


About the authors 

Rachel Curry is an Agriculture and Agribusiness Educator focusing on agriculture and watershed education and is a part of the Illinois Extension's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy implementation team. Rachel earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Knox College and an M.S. in Environmental Science and Soil Science from Iowa State University with an emphasis on soil fertility. Her work focuses on education and outreach regarding the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and agricultural conservation practices to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality and soil health throughout Illinois 

Nicole Haverback is a Watershed Outreach Associate and is a part of the Illinois Extension's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy implementation team. Nicole earned a B.S. in Agriculture and Rural Policy Studies from Iowa State University. She coordinates watershed and planning activities to reduce nutrient losses from priority watersheds, provides expertise on best management practices for nutrient loss, and conducts outreach on agricultural conservation practices outlined in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.  

About the blog 

At Illinois Extension, we’re working to improve water quality at home and downstream. Every month, our Watershed Outreach Associates will bring you stories highlighting agricultural conservation practices, current research projects and results, and from the field farmer interviews. The Nutrient Loss Reduction blog covers conservation practices recommended by the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, timely updates, farm safety, and new decision tools to help farmers and producers reduce the nutrients leaving their field. Want to get notified when new blog posts are available? Subscribe at