Integrated Strategies to Reduce Nutrient Loss and Regenerate Soils

Nutrient losses and soil degradation are symptomatic of the current state of agricultural systems that define much of the Illinois landscape. Excessive nutrients in waterways are currently the leading cause of water quality impairments in the Midwest and across the globe. Furthermore, the loss of soil and its carbon-rich organic matter is detrimental to crop cultivation, water quality and infiltration, nutrient cycling, pest moderation, as well as the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The first part outlines markets drivers that could provide mechanisms to advance the plans proposed in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS), in addition to various policy and social drivers that could be leveraged in Illinois. The second part focuses on the role of Illinois state agencies in advancing the NLRS and highlights the opportunities to leverage resources that support its implementation. The third part identifies opportunities for broader programmatic alignment between the NLRS and soil health to move toward a recarbonized rural landscape that provides water quality, climate and community benefits. We provide a snapshot of available models and tools highlighting the gaps and opportunities in utilizing those tools to support successful development and adoption of market drivers, reducing pollution, and strengthening the sustainability of agricultural systems in Illinois. This work was funded by the Walton Family Foundation.

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