S.T.A.R. for 2020
The Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District and its farmer board members developed a FREE tool to assist farm operators and land owners in evaluating their nutrient and soil loss management practices on individual fields. The purpose of S.T.A.R. is to motivate those making cropping decisions to use conservation management practices that will ultimately meet the goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. To meet those goals for the agriculture sector, farmer’s need to reduce the nitrogen and phosphorus losses by applying nitrogen when the plants need it and by preventing soil losses by reducing tillage.
The S.T.A.R. (Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources) evaluation system assigns points for each cropping, tillage, nutrient application and soil conservation activity used on individual fields. The practices selected and the point values assigned are determined by a group of scientists and researchers, including some farmers who are involved in research. That “Science Advisory Committee” bases their analysis of recommended practices on the potential contribution to the goals of the NLRS. The total points are used in a scale to determine a rating of 1 to 5 Stars for each individual field.
The potential benefits and value of using this program include:
Decreased nutrient loss, gain new farms to lease as land owners can evaluate tenants’ contributions to conservation, assist in securing local conservation cost share (when available), reduce crop insurance premiums, assist producers in obtaining documentation to support potential water quality issues, and assist producers to obtain potential market incentives for sustainable cropping practices.
Access to a S.T.A.R. informational flyer is here. For more details and a full explanation with examples, see our 24 minute video here. Vist the S.T.A.R. website at www.starfreetool.com.
If you want to participate in S.T.A.R., complete a Field Form for a field that you want to have rated. You are welcome to complete one form for ALL of your fields to have them evaluated. The cost is the same…. free!
If you are from another county, you are welcome to participate, but you are encouraged to contact your local Soil and Water District or county Farm Bureau to see if they are offering the program.
As of March 4, 2020 here is a map of participating counties.
The S.T.A.R. Field Form is available by clicking here. You can use this form by printing it, completing it by hand and then mail it to the CCSWCD office. A better method is to download the fill-in PDF form. After you do that, it can be completed and saved for each field and emailed to the CCSWCD S.T.A.R. Coordinator. For the fillable form to function correctly, please be sure to have a recent version of Adobe Acrobrat Reader DC.
Participants can submit information about fields with a smart phone or computer by clicking on S.T.A.R. portal, then choose "Get Started" This is a free service, but it does require you to register into the PCM website.