-- Initiative Aims to Improve Water Quality, Control Erosion and Increase Yields --
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today announced the start of a three-year demonstration project by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to encourage the planting of environmentally-beneficial cover crops. The initiative's goal is to improve water quality in Illinois lakes and streams by reducing soil erosion and nutrient run-off from farm fields. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to protect the state's natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations, while boosting Illinois agriculture.
"Illinois is a leading agricultural state because of its ability to adopt sustainable farming practices that protect our valuable soil and water resources without sacrificing productivity," Governor Quinn said. "This project is a good example of the industry's commitment to our environment."
"The time is right for this initiative," Steve Chard, the Department of Agriculture's bureau chief of Land and Water Resources, added. "New plant varieties and new production techniques have been discovered that eliminate many of the problems that farmers who planted cover crops in the 1980s and 90s experienced."
Cover crops are plants seeded into agricultural fields, either within or outside of the regular growing season, with the primary purpose of improving or maintaining ecosystem quality. Cover crops, typically certain grasses or legumes, can enhance biodiversity; lead to less flooding, leaching, and runoff; create wildlife habitat; attract honey bees and other beneficial insects; improve soil quality; combat weeds; and break disease cycles. Cover crops appear to have a significant competitive advantage compared to the more traditional management practices that have been used to control soil erosion and nutrient run-off.
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