Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (STAR) is a FREE nationwide tool to assist farm operators and landowners in evaluating their nutrient and soil loss management practices on individual fields. STAR encourages farmers and landowners to use management practices and make decisions that will reduce the nutrient and soil losses on their fields, and in return, they are provided a field sign recognizing their level of commitment to conservation. Ultimately, this program will help reduce the nutrient and soil losses from farmland over larger areas, and specifically the various water sheds, while engaging key stakeholders from all corners of the agriculture sector - retail, commodity, agency, and farmers. In addition, the practices encouraged by STAR will also result in improved soil health.
STAR was created by the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District, a local unit of government located in east central Illinois. The program was developed in 2017 as a means to contribute to the important goals outlined in the state's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS), a plan developed jointly by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Since its creation, STAR has been adopted in many county soil and water conservation districts in Illinois, including several in Indiana. Other states have also adopted STAR, including Iowa, Missouri, and Colorado to administer the tool in their area, tailored to their local resource concern.
The STAR evaluation system assigns points for management activities on an annual basis. Participants answer a series of simple questions about their crop rotation, tillage, nutrient applications, and use of conservation practices to generate their overall field score. STAR relies on the expertise of a local science committee, made up of university researchers, conservation professionals, and farmers, to assign the highest point values to practices identified to address local resource concerns. Scores are converted to a STAR rating of 1 to 5 STARs, with 5 STARs indicating commitment to a suite of practices proven to improve soil health and water quality.
The potential benefits to participating landowners and farm operators are numerous, and include;
STAR Steering Committee
STAR Science Advisory Committee