Prairie Junegrass in CRP

Koeleria macrantha, commonly referred to as prairie junegrass in the US, is a cool season bunchgrass that’s native to many regions in North America and Eurasia. This perennial grass is resilient and versatile, growing naturally in plains, rangelands, forests, mountain foothills, and more.   It’s also a popular choice for lawns and turf grass due to its low maintenance and the fact that it turns green very …

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Creating a Conservation Plan for CRP

Joining the Conservation Reserve Program is a multistep process that even experienced farmers can find overwhelming. However, that shouldn’t stop you from joining. Since launching, CRP has helped countless farmers and landowners restore health to their soil while protecting local water supplies and providing habitat for wildlife.   Your local USDA office can help you get started, answering questions and walking you through the …

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Reducing Nitrogen Fertilizers in Farming

Nitrogen is a vital element for plants. Unfortunately, farmland is often in short supply of it. Though 80% of our air is made of nitrogen, atmospheric nitrogen isn’t usable for plants. Instead, they need nitrates, which they take from soil.  Nitrates occur naturally from decomposing plants and animals, animal waste, rainfall, and even lightning. However, farming techniques such as tillage and planting the same crops year after …

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Adding Rosinweed to Your CRP Seed Mix

Silphium integrifolium, known as rosinweed, shares some similarities to last month’s featured seed, prairie dock. In fact, prairie dock is often referred to as prairie rosinweed. Both of these perennial plants feature bright, yellow flowers. When cut or broken, their stems produce a resinous sap.   However, you shouldn’t expect traditional rosinweed, also known as whole-leaf rosinweed, to grow as tall as prairie dock. Typically, rosinweed stands 2-3 …

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What Happens if Our Pollinators Die?

Last month, we discussed the reasons why so many of our major pollinators are dying. For honeybees, it’s because of Colony Collapse Disorder, which itself remains somewhat of a mystery. For bumbles, butterflies, and other pollinator species, however, it’s largely due to a loss of habitat, the use of harmful pesticides, changing climate conditions, and more.  With so many pollinators suffering, it’s important that we take …

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Carbon Sequestration Through CRP

While carbon, specifically carbon dioxide, is important for crops, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Carbon dioxide makes up just .04% of our atmosphere, yet it serves some important functions. As a greenhouse gas, it’s responsible for absorbing the suns rays and keeping our planet warm enough for life to thrive. Additionally, it’s a critical component of …

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Why Are So Many Pollinators Dying?

Animal pollination is a critical part of our world’s economy. Thirty-five percent of our food crops and 75% of our flowering plants need the presence of pollinators to thrive. This includes most fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, livestock forage, and oil crops. Pollinators contribute $24 billion to the economy in the US alone.   The trouble is many of our major pollinators are dying in large quantities.  …

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Prairie Dock – A Tall, Resilient Pollinator for CRP

Silphium terebinthinaceum, more commonly known as prairie dock, is a flowering plant that can be found in most of Illinois, along with select areas of Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Some refer to it as prairie rosinweed, a name derived from the sweet-smelling resin it produces when cut. When fully grown, prairie dock can reach heights of 10 feet. Small, yellow flowers bloom at the tips of its stems, while …

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Improving US Water Conditions Through CRP

Recently, Cargill announced a new initiative set to drastically reduce water usage and improve water quality in critical areas around the world. By 2030, they plan to restore 159 billion gallons of water to priority watersheds. As one of the largest US-based ag companies, Cargill is hoping these changes can inspire similar actions across the industry.  Agriculture is currently responsible for 80% of water use in the US.  While much of this water ultimately returns …

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Adding Compass Plant to Your CRP Mix

Silphium lacinatum is known by a number of names: pilotweed, gum weed, turpentine plant, and more. Its most popular name, however, is compass plant. Compass plant is a flowering plant native to eastern and central US and can often be found alongside big bluestem.   Like most plants in the Silphium genus, compass plant flowers have vibrant yellow petals that spread out from its center like sunrays. …

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