FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25, 2010
For More Information Contact:
Paige Buck, State Public Affairs Specialist, (217) 353.6606
Report Cards Are Out – Illinois NRI Gets Gold Star!
Champaign, IL—Report cards come out soon, putting kids and parents on
edge. Luckily, in the ‘report card’ for Illinois’ natural resources, we made the
Honor Roll according to newly released statewide data for the National
Resources Inventory (NRI). The latest released and compiled NRI data
from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) indicates the most
current status and condition of Illinois land, natural resources and important
long-term land use trends. “The data confirms that Illinois’ private landowners
work hard to protect our land and natural resources,” says Illinois NRCS State
Conservationist Bill Gradle. “It also shows us a few areas where we need to
focus our attention and target both state and local efforts.”
The NRI is a statistical survey of natural resource conditions and trends on
non-Federal land in the United States. NRI gathers and compares annual data
samples at both the large major river basin level and the state level. “This
state data guides state and federal decision-makers as well as private
landowners because it offers a clear picture of what’s going on here at home,”
says NRCS’ Resource Inventory Specialist James Johnson.
“I’m proud to report that the rate of soil erosion on Illinois cropland has
steadily declined over the last 25 years,” says Gradle. Conservation
practices and treatments, such as no-till planting, terraces, conservation
tillage, strip-cropping, contour farming and conservation cover planted on
highly erodible ground are all part of the reasons behind this positive trend.
“We can thank Illinois’ conservation farmers and all our conservation
partners for these productive and ‘green’ trends,” Gradle adds.
In 1982, before provisions of conservation compliance were required for
producers working with USDA, Illinois’ rate of sheet and rill (water) erosion on
cultivated cropland was at over 6.2 tons per acre annually. The 2007 data sets a
new low—3.9 tons per acre. Take a bow, IL farmers!
On average, sheet and rill (water) erosion rates on pastureland declined by 38
percent since 1982. At an average rate of less than 1.0 ton per acre per year,
NRCS can say that soil erosion poses little threat to healthy pastureland
productivity statewide. Pastureland managers and grazers, take a bow!
Illinois is home to ample acres of prime farmland soils. About 89 percent of
these acres are cropped. Between 1982 and 2007, about 495,000 acres of prime
farmland soils were converted (lost to) other/non-ag uses. “While this may
sound like a small loss, it still indicates a loss of the best and most ideal
use of Illinois’ rare and productive soils. It’s a figure and a fact we need to
be mindful of,” says Gradle. Learn more NRI data for Illinois and the
Other Notable Illinois NRI Data…
- About 87% of Illinois total surface area, which is 36,058,700 acres, is
non-federal rural land. It means it’s privately owned land.
- 2% of Illinois land is water.
- More than two-thirds of Illinois is dedicated to cropland.
- Nearly 11% is forestland.
With new data, NRCS staff can compare a 10-year span of data from 1997 to
2007. Comparisons can also be made that consider data from as far back as
1982—pre Farm Bill days:
- Land developed or built-up from 1982 to 2007 increased 760,800 acres.
- More than 953,000 acres of Pastureland were lost in 1982-2007—that’s
38,000+ acres lost every year
- During 1982 – 2001, Forestland in Illinois gained 303,000 acres!
- Since 1982 Illinois lost 835,100 acres of Cropland
- Illinois ranks fifth for the amount of cropland—Kansas, Iowa, Texas,
North Dakota, Illinois.
- Illinois ranks third for the acres of prime farmland—Texas, Kansas,
- Illinois ranks number one in “prime cropland.”
States with highest percentage of “developed” land:
- New York
- North Carolina
Click on illustration to view larger image of chart.
- Illinois’ total surface area is approximately 36,058,700 acres.
- About 87% of this total (31,451,800 acres) is Non-Federal Rural Land.
- The dominant land use on private land is Cropland - 66.3% about
- Approximately 10.9% is Forestland (3,934,800 acres).
- Approximately 9.4% is Developed/Urban land (3,383,300 acres).
- Approximately 6.2% is Pastureland (2,249,500 acres).
- Approximately 2.0% is Water (732,500) acres).
- Approximately 1.9% is Other Rural land (692,400 acres).*
- Approximately 1.8% is Conservation Reserve Land (CRP) (664,600 acres).
- Approximately 1.4% is Federal land (491,100 acres).
- Water Erosion (Sheet and Rill) on Cultivated Cropland is 3.9
* Other Rural land includes farmsteads, field windbreaks, and other farm
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