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Increased adoption of cover crops, along with a host of other practices, shows many Illinois farmers continue to take the state’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) seriously. Illinois’ NLRS aims to reduce nitrate loss by 15 percent and phosphorus loss by 25 percent before 2025. A study from the University of Illinois released earlier this year showed nitrate load in the Illinois River from 2011-2015 was 15 percent less than loads measured from 1980 to the mid-1990s, and improved fertilizer management is one reason for the progress  (

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