DEKALB – American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement “No Farms No Food,” will partner with The Nature Conservancy to provide over $100,000 for the adoption of regenerative farming practices in Illinois. This will be done through enhanced partnerships, testing of innovative programs, expanding technical and financial assistance for farmers, and evaluation of the success of these efforts in reducing greenhouse gases, or GHG. The funds are from the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
“The U.S. Natural Climate Solutions accelerator grant will provide American Farmland Trust the opportunity to accelerate the adoption of practices proven to provide climate benefits, such as cover crops, by catalyzing cooperation among public agencies and private partners around the efficient use of financial and technical assistance,” notes Kristopher Reynolds, AFT Midwest regional director. “We are excited to leverage our work with current partners to increase the adoption of regenerative farming practices in Illinois.”
Megan Baskerville, TNC Illinois ag program director, said AFT’s innovative accelerator project will give Illinois’ agriculture community even more ways to understand, and account for, the myriad co-benefits soil health practices deliver. “This will result in the ultimate goal - more conservation on the ground,” she said.
AFT will use the COMET-Planner tool emission reduction coefficients and county level 2017 Census of Agriculture data to determine the scalable GHG mitigation potential. Over the next 15 months, this project seeks to incorporate soil carbon storage and GHG mitigation as quantifiable outcomes alongside state water quality targets, signifying a continued commitment to simultaneously achieving the goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and the U.S. Climate Alliance.
Through this project, they hope to achieve the following:
AFT will utilize existing programs such as the Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources (S.T.A.R.) Initiative and Illinois Department of Agriculture “Fall Covers for Spring Savings” Cover Crop Premium Discount Program to open pathways for leveraging funds from private corporations and foundations. These funds will benefit AFT’s and TNC’s partnerships including The Illinois Sustainable Agriculture Partnership, a coalition of conservation nonprofits including commodity associations and research institutions. The key to unlocking these funds lies in the ability to demonstrate the “most bang for the buck” regarding cost-effective environmental outcomes.
AFT will track practices implemented and quantify the GHG impacts from project activities alongside soil health and water quality co-benefits, providing a prioritization framework to guide future program implementation and prioritization of regenerative agriculture practices at the field level.