Conservation exhibits that both catch your attention and inform are very much a part of the history and fabric of the Farm Progress Show. This year promises to be no exception. And in this year of all years, when heavy spring and early summer rains have turned many rivers muddy, it's a great time to learn more about what you can do to limit soil erosion in the future.
'Conservation around the world- how are you making a difference?' is the theme of this year's exhibit, says Jody Christiansen, public affairs specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Illinois.
A special feature this year is two farmer panel discussions on each of the three days of the show, she notes. Panel discussions will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. CDT. Topics will range from conservation systems to wildlife, new and beginning farmers, women in agriculture and cover crops. A drawing will be held for a Tablet after each panel discussion.
Bring your 'younger farmers' with you to the exhibit. They can fish for prizes and all of you can see a live beehive and pick up ideas for promoting these powerful pollinators. You can also use a new estimator tool to calculate the cost of cover crops, and view new online tools for both soil surveys and cover crops.
NRCS will also be showcasing the new Conservation Client Gateway designed to make it easier for you to work with NRCS. This new tool was just unveiled recently.
Some on-line tools help monitor water resource data, including for ground water and rive levels. Those online tools will also be on display.
Activities outside the tent will also attract your attention, Christensen notes. Soil scientists will man a soil pit labeled to show what soils are like in the area. Expect to find deep, prairie soils where the conservation exhibit is located.
A rainwater simulator will also demonstrate why soil eroded during those heavy spring rains, and what you can do to increase the odds of keeping soil in place.
You will find the conservation partners exhibit on south-central East Progress Avenue, off Fourth Progress Street. The exhibit covers lots E26 through E30.
An exhibit of this proportion doesn't take shape without many of helpers, Christiansen asserts. Many of the partners will have individuals on site each day, ready to discuss their area of interest with you.
Partners cooperating this year, besides NRCS, include the Agriculture Watershed Alliance, American Farmland Trust, Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Illinois Conservation Best Management Practices, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and IDNR Conservation Police, Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Land Improvement Contractor's Association, Illinois Rural Water Association, Illinois State Bee Association, Illinois Soil Classifiers Association, Illinois Soil & Water Conservation District Employee Association, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Mason State Nursery, Macon County SWCD, Soil and Water Conservation Society, The Land Conservation, Trees Forever, USDA- Rural Development, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.