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Webinar to provide information on proposed conservation management program

Published September 8, 2014
Aerial photo of farm

URBANA, Ill. – A free webinar is being offered to provide information about a new agricultural service program called Precision Conservation Management that is being developed through collaboration with Illinois agricultural associations and faculty at the University of Illinois. The purpose of the program is to build conservation practices into the management of commodity crop farming and animal production operations.

The webinar will take place on Friday, Sept. 19, from noon to 1 p.m. Central Time. It is intended to give growers, producers, and others interested in sustainable agricultural efforts an opportunity to learn about the program and ask questions. To register for the webinar, visit http://go.illinois.edu/RCPP.

“This new Precision Conservation Management program will work as an extension of the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association (FBFM), a successful model already familiar to growers,” said Jonathan Coppess, U of I clinical professor of agricultural policy.

FBFM was established in 1924 as a cooperative education/service program associated with the U of I to assist farmers with financial management decision making.

“Most growers throughout the country independently maintain and manage their own yield data, agricultural input records, seeding information, crop insurance records, etc.,” said Laura Gentry, Illinois Corn Growers director of water quality research and adjunct assistant professor at the U of I. “This new program will help manage agronomic records and, more important, uses that data to provide individualized agronomic consulting to farmers considering implementing conservation practices on their farms.”

Coppess added, “This effort will help us better understand the conservation work already being done by farmers and set a baseline that will allow us to assess changes and improvements over time.  Research and assessment will use aggregated and anonymous data, all of which will be protected on behalf of the farmer.  As regulatory pressures on farming increase, this work will help demonstrate not only the economic benefit to farmers but also the increasing benefits farmers can provide through natural resource conservation and best management practices.”   

Gentry said that a major deterrent for growers considering enrolling in conservation programs, such as those provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is the paperwork and data-entry requirements for participation. As part of the proposed Precision Conservation Management service, agents will collect relevant grower management data and, at the grower’s request, will securely upload required information to the program on behalf of the grower to guarantee confidentiality.