Perennial Cropping Systems and Windbreaks, Thoughts on Diversification, and Lessons learned from the 2016 Conservation Cropping Systems. It's all inside!
Conservation E-Newsletter
October 2015

Welcome to my conservation newsletter. If this is your first time reading, my name is Woody and I am the conservation associate for Illinois Stewardship Alliance. My goal is to help make it easier for you to implement conservation practices on your farm that will not only improve soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat for you and the surrounding community, but will also increase the long-term profitability of your farm. As a farmer myself, I understand the unique situations facing farmers today and can draw on my own real life experiences to know what works and what doesn't. This newsletter features articles about lessons I've learned on my farm and through my work at Illinois Stewardship Alliance. Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have at 217-528-1563 or via email at  Happy reading and happy farming!

Re-Diversify Illinois Food Systems
When you think back to your town's farming history, do you think of simpler times? There was a local butcher shop that supplied the local deli with fresh locally-raised meats directly from the community and back to the community. Local mills ground the grains for bakers. An area auction barn sold surplus items from the farmers and surrounding communities. Most things that communities truly required to stay healthy came from local family farms. Back in those days farm families were focused on taking care of the needs of their families and farms first, and then the needs of the local community, and not the needs of a country half way around the globe. Today it is often just the reverse, local needs are met from far away countries at a cost to our own communities.

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The History of Perennial Cropping on Woody's Farm
Mud Prairie Farm is the name I gave my farm to make it feel more like a living, breathing ecosystem. When I was a kid growing up, my farm family fit in well with everyone else in Illinois; corn and beans were all we planted. We added hogs and cattle in my junior high years, which came with a shift to some alfalfa in the farm's rotation. As a freshman in high school I planted 500 white pines and 500 black walnuts on 5 acres as a FFA project but it was my Peace Corps training on Agro-Forestry that gave me my first real understanding of the perennial cropping systems.
Illinois Stewardship Alliance Partners with Macoupin Creek Watershed Project
Illinois Stewardship Alliance is pleased to join the team of partners and collaborators on the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed project, a new conservation project funded through the USDA Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI). The project goals are to reduce nutrient & sediment losses at the sub-watershed scale, address the technical and/or educational needs of stakeholders who serve in advisory roles to farmers, and promote awareness about the importance of nutrient loss reduction to the citizens of the Macoupin Creek Watershed. The Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed project was awarded 1.4 million dollars in cost share for the next three years from the USDA. 

Restoration Agriculture
Recently, I have been working a lot with perennial cropping systems.  Perennial crops are plants that do not need to be re-established year after year. Nuts, berries, and things like asparagus are all prime examples of perennial crops. Putting all these perennials together to best utilize their different needs for sun, shade, wet soil, or dry soil is a cropping system. Illinois Stewardship Alliance has been a long time partner of an organization with a focus on perennial cropping systems called, Green Lands Blue Waters This coming year we will also be working with The Land Institute , home of noted author; Wes Jackson.  Becoming Native to this Place  is one of my favorite books written by Wes.  Excitingly, ISA is working with these two organizations to introduce  Kernza , a type of perennial wheat that has been developed by The Land Institute.

The 2016 Conservation Cropping Seminars
I just returned from three Illinois Conservation Cropping Seminars in Champaign, Godfrey, and Milan this year. These seminars, hosted by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the American Farmland Trust, the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Illinois Departure of Agriculture host these seminars in order to provide education to farmers on the benefits and importance of implementing conservation practices on their land. The two issues that farmers will be facing soon are regulations addressing water quality and climate change. 
Upcoming Events You Don't Want to Miss

Nutrient Management Workshop, 
February 23rd
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Strip Till Workshop 
Carlinville U of I Extension Office
March 2nd, 9:30 to 1:30. 
For more detail, please call Woody Woodruff at ISA at 217/883-7154

Waverly Lake Watershed Nutrient Management Discussion Workshop  Franklin Lion's Club 
March 1st, 11:30 to 1:30. Date TBD. For more details please call Woody Woodruff at ISA at  217/883-7154

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