Farmer sets record straight on toxins in waterways

By Erica Quednau |

Published 06/24 2014 04:33PM

Updated 06/24 2014 06:18PM

NEWMAN -- Farmers are responding to claims they're to blame for polluting our water. It may sound scary that farmers use herbicides and insecticides at all, but they say it's necessary and safe. Last week, we learned Illinois' waterways are 13th worst in the nation and some believe farmers are to blame. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau speaks to one who's ready to set the record straight.

When you're searching the grocery store for your favorite cereal, you're probably not thinking about where it came from. Even if you did, you might not think here.

"Everything they eat just doesn't, just come from a grocery store. It doesn't come from a box. It's right out here and we're doing what we can to grow the most efficient and safest food we can."

But sometimes, keeping things efficient for Roger Sy and other farmers means using what some would consider unsafe.

"Farmers don't just go out here and pour nutrients every year trying to grow a crop. We test the soils, we see how much pot ash and phosphorus we actually need and put it on accordingly."

Those chemicals can then run off into our waterways which has environmentalists worried it's making those waterways toxic. But Sy says farmers do all they can to make sure that's not the case.

"I have a filter strip that's usually around 60 feet wide and it's tall grasses. If we do get a big rain, it has to make it's way through these tall grasses. It's not just bare dirt and that helps to collect some of these nutrients and herbicides, insecticides and whatnot that may be in the soil, doesn't allow it to go straight into the creeks."

That's not all.

"The tillage equipment we use helps mix our corn stalks or bean stubble in with the top soil, so it helps to hold it there instead of allowing it to runoff downhill."

Keeping things safe, not just for you and me, but Sy and his family too.

"We are doing our part. We are trying to make it as safe as we can and we have been working on that for years."

Sy says farmers have cut down on the amount of chemicals they use dramatically over the years. The good news is, they're producing the same yields or more.

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