2015 Sangamon Watershed Celebration

We Hope You’ll Join Us!

11th Annual Sangamon Watershed Celebration

Sangamon Watershed Celebration

Thursday Schedule

Thurs – Dec 10 , 2015
Reception  ●  Dinner   ●   Play
Richland Community College
Shilling Community Education Center

Decatur, Illinois

  • 6:00 pm Reception
  • 6:45 pm Holiday Buffet prepared by The Prairie Grille from local sources
  • 7:30 pm Original Play – Map of My Kingdom about:  Who’s going to get the farm? And what are they going to do with it?
    Will your future plans for your land create harmony or strife for your family? Or have you even started to think that far ahead?
  • >> You Tube Video of Map of My Kingdom

You may call us to make reservations and then pay the advance price at the door.
$20 in advance; $25 at the door

Phone: 217-877-5640

E-mail: sfjohn@agwatershed.org


Friday Schedule

Friday – Dec 11, 2015
Generations Caring for the Land
Mary Swander
9 AM to 1 PM

On Friday, December 11, there will be a workshop on Generations Caring for the Land. The workshop is designed especially for farmland owners.

The workshop will be from 9 AM to 1 PM in the National Sequestration Education Center, located under the wind turbine on the Richland Community College campus. Lunch will be provided.

Mary Swander will guide participants in envisioning the future they want for their “Kingdom”; Jen Filipiak of American Farmland Trust will discuss information and support available through the “Women Caring for the Land” program; attorney Samuel Collins of The Estate Planning Center in Salem, Illinois, will speak about integrating character, faith, morals and life lessons into planning your estate and legacy.

Choose either Individual ($20) or Family ($30) from the Dropdown Menu Below then click on Purchase Tickets

Workshop Pricing

Conference Sponsors:

City of Decatur  ●  Decatur Audubon Society  ●  Macon County Community Environmental Council


Perennial Biomass Crops and Nutrient Loss Reduction

Agricultural Watershed Institute and Prairie Rivers Network
Invite you to a Workshop on Perennial Biomass Crops and Nutrient Loss Reduction

August 14th, 2015
Location: Richland Community College Campus/National Sequestration Education Center
Time: 10 am to 3 pm – Lunch provided

The use of wetness-tolerant Perennial Crops combined with drainage management practices could become a viable cropping system to utilize nutrients before they reach streams and lakes.

Speakers and participants will discuss current and possible crops and methods to produce forage or bioenergy feedstock in wet or sloping areas and also help meet the targets of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

Attendees are invited to tour the Caterpillar—AWI Prairie for Bioenergy demonstration plots immediately after the workshop.

This workshop and plot tour is free and open to the public. It is especially designed for conservation professionals, scientists and educators, producers, landowners, farm managers, and anyone else with an interest in perennial forage or bioenergy crops that can also provide water quality, soil conservation, and wildlife benefits.  Speakers will include Jerry Kaiser, NRCS Elsberry Plant Materials Center; Cristina Negri, Argonne National Laboratory; Allen Parrish, U of I; Eric Rund, Rund Farms; Producer & Contractor Panel.

>> Download Workshop Brochure

Sangamon Watershed Celebration 2014

Dear Friends of AWI and the Sangamon River Watershed: 

Please join us for AWI’s annual Sangamon Watershed Celebration to be held on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, at Richland Community College’s Shilling Center.

The Celebration will begin at 5:30 pm with a reception and exhibits. This will be followed by a Cajun-style dinner buffet catered by the Prairie Grille (6:30), a keynote address by Nancy Rabalais (7:00), and Cajun music by Tee Chaoui Social Club featuring Alan Lafleur (8:00).

Dr. Rabalais is Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and a leading expert on causes and potential solutions for the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone”.

The cost of the Sangamon Watershed Celebration is $25 per person in advance or $35 at the door.
We do not print tickets.

Join us for the Sangamon Watershed Celebration

Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014

For your convenience, you may call us to make reservations and then pay the advance price at the door.
Phone: 217-877-5640
E-mail:  sfjohn@agwatershed.org

Join us for the Green Lands Blue Waters Conference

This year, AWI’s annual watershed event is piggybacking on the Green Lands Blue Waters Conference which will be held on November 19-20, with pre-conference tours on the 18th. The conference theme is “Bioenergy and Sustainable Agriculture”.

Speakers and participants from throughout the Midwest will explore cutting-edge ideas to combine renewable energy with clean water and wildlife habitat. Friends of AWI and the Sangamon are cordially invited to attend the conference. It will spotlight local efforts to make the Lake Decatur watershed a national showcase.

Cost of the full conference is $90, which includes the Sangamon Watershed Celebration, other meals, and the optional pre-conference tours.

To learn more about the GLBW vision for more Continuous Living Cover on the agricultural landscape, go to greenlandsbluewaters.net.

We look forward to seeing many of our friends and partners at the 2014 Sangamon Watershed Celebration.  And if you are interested in learning how perennial biomass crop may transform the agricultural landscape in the years ahead, please consider registering for the GLBW conference.

In addition to AWI and GLBW, co-sponsors are the Illinois Biomass Working Group, City of Decatur, Decatur Audubon Society, and Environmental and Energy Study Institute.


Steve John, AWI Executive Director

2014 Fall Conference & Sangamon Watershed Celebration

Bioenergy and Sustainable Agriculture:

Perennial Biomass Crops for Multiple Benefits

November 19-20
Richland Community College
Decatur, IL


Steve John,
sfjohn@agwatershed.orgThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Richard Warner,
rhwarner@umn.eduThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Conference Co-Sponsors:

Agricultural Watershed Institute, a nonprofit based
in Decatur, Illinois, leads a collaborative project to promote perennial
crops for bioenergy, forage, clean water and wildlife in the Upper
Sangamon Watershed.
Green Lands Blue Waters supports development of and
transition to a new generation of multifunctional agricultural systems
that integrate more perennial plants and other continuous living cover
(CLC) into the landscape.


2014 Conference Schedule

Bioenergy and Sustainable Agriculture

Perennial Biomass Crops for Multiple Benefits

Pre-conference field tours – Tuesday, November 18

A menu of pre-conference tours has been arranged to showcase a variety of Continuous Living Cover (CLC) types. There is no additional fee for conference registrants to attend these field tours. Participants will drive themselves or carpool from Decatur to the tour sites. Agricultural Watershed Institute (AWI) will help arrange carpools for participants traveling by air. Tour times shown are for the tours themselves and do not include driving time to the tour location. Maps and directions will be provided.

  • Decatur area tour – Demonstration plots and on-farm warm season grasses
    Hosts: AWI staff and cooperating producers
    CLC types: Biomass & Forage 

    The AWI—Caterpillar Prairie for Bioenergy site includes farm scale (5 to 30 acre) plots of native warm season grasses and forbs grown for forage and bioenergy and single species demo plots (1/4 to 1 acre). AWI and the University of Illinois have small plots of bioenergy grasses on the grounds of Progress City, Illinois site of the Farm Progress Show (alternating with a site in Boone, Iowa). Also visit on-farm plots with prairie grasses grown as organic field borders and small-scale densification and heating equipment.
    This tour starts and ends at the conference site
    Tour: 10:00 to 11:30 am
    Participants on this tour will have time to drive to one of the afternoon tours: Goldmine Farm, U of I, or EIU.

  • Rund Farm – near Pesotum
    Host: Eric Rund
    CLC types: Biomass (Miscanthus) 

    Learn how Miscanthus fits in to his operation, including the economics. A prairie grass buffer between a stream and the miscanthus provides wildlife habitat. Observe the results of inter-planting corn into a new or weak miscanthus stand.
    Driving time from Decatur: 1 hour
    Tour: 11:00 to 12:30
    Participants on this tour will have a box lunch at the Rund Farm and will have time to drive to either the U of I or EIU tour.

  • Goldmine Farm – near Pana
    Host: Jack Erisman
    CLC types: Forage/Grazing, Cover Crops, Perennial Grain 

    Jack Erisman’s Goldmine Farm is over 2,000 acres and 100% certified organic. He has developed a long rotation that features high value specialty food grade corn, pastures for his cow/calf herd, and cover crops. He also has the first on-farm planting of Kernza intermediate wheatgrass in Illinois. Agronomist Lee DeHaan of The Land Institute, the developer of Kernza, will be on hand.
    Driving time from Decatur to farm: 40 minutes
    Goldmine Farm tour: Between 1:00 and 4:00 PM

  • University of Illinois – Energy Biosciences Institute Energy Farm & Woody Perennial Polyculture Site – Urbana
    Hosts: Tim Mies, Energy Farm; Kevin Wolz, WPP Research Site
    CLC types: Biomass and Agroforestry 

    The 320-acre EBI Energy Farm features bioenergy-crop research and production plantings, including sustainable perennial grasses and broadleaved plants, woody feedstocks, and state-of-the-art environmental monitoring equipment. The structure of the Woody Perennial Polyculture system put in place at the research site is the Midwestern Oak Savanna.
    This structure entails an herbaceous understory, scattered canopy trees, and a variety of shrub layers scattered throughout.
    Driving time from Decatur to U of I: 50 minutes
    Tours: Energy farm, 1:00 to 3:00 – WPP Research Site, 3:00 to 4:00

  • Eastern Illinois University – Renewable Energy Center, Bioenergy Plots, and Lumpkin Farm – Charleston
    Host: Tom Canam, Eastern Illinois University
    CLC types: Biomass, including a biomass-fueled steam plant 

    EIU replaced its old coal-fired steam plant with a Renewable Energy Center (REC) that houses four boilers. Two boilers burn biomass, initially wood chips but they may burn grass in the future; the others burn natural gas with a fuel oil backup. EIU professors have established grass and tree bioenergy plots on campus plus a 100-acre research / production plot on the Lumpkin Family Farm located a few miles from campus. EIU conducts wildlife studies on its plots and the Lumpkin and Rund farms. NOTE: The REC tour will be capped at 10 participants.
    Driving time from Decatur to EIU: 1 hour, 15 minutes
    Tour: REC, 1:00 to 2:30 – Plots, 2:30 to 4:00


Conference Agenda

(subject to change)

Day 1 – Wednesday, Nov 19

Morning Plenary Session
8:00 – 9:00 Registration/continental breakfast
9:00 – 9:20 GLBW vision and strategies Richard Warner, Green Lands Blue Waters, University of Minnesota
9:20 – 9:40 Kernza: Perennial grains are coming to farms and tables Lee DeHaan, The Land Institute
9:40 – 10:00 Perennial biomass for a new agricultural paradigm Steve John, Agricultural Watershed Institute
10:10 – 10:45 An Illinois farmer’s experience promoting energy grass in the Corn Belt Eric Rund, Rund Farms – Green Flame Energy
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 11:30 DOE Perspective on Sustainable Bioenergy Landscapes Kristen Johnson, US Department of Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office (invited)
11:30 – 11:45 Introduction to the Watersheds and Landscapes session George Boody, Land Stewardship Project
11:45 – 12:00 Introduction to the Technologies and Markets session Fred Iutzi, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Western Illinois University


12:00—1:00 Networking lunch – Exhibits open

Afternoon Concurrent Session A: Watersheds and Landscapes – Moderator: George Boody
1:00 – 2:30 GLBW watershed case studies
2:30 – 3:00 Networking break – Exhibits open
3:00 – 4:30 Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems Design Charette Charette leader: Sarah Taylor Lovell, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Afternoon Concurrent Session B: Technologies and Markets – Moderator: Fred Iutzi
1:00 – 1:30 Home—farm—school heating with grass biomass Bob Thomas, Hudson Valley Grass Energy
1:30 – 2:00 Modular Biomass Pre-processing/Densification Facility Paul Wever, Chip Energy LLC
2:00 – 2:30 The University of Iowa Biomass Fuel Project Benjamin Anderson, University of Iowa
2:30 – 3:00 Networking break – Exhibits open
3:00 – 3:30 Processing Methods to improve the Feed Value of Perennial Grasses Michael Cecava, Archer Daniels Midland Company
3:30 – 4:00 Micro-refineries for Drop-in fuel and CoolTerraTM production Wes Bolsen, Cool Planet Energy Systems
4:00 – 4:30 Anaerobic digestion of grass & manure Tom Elgin, Roeslein Alternative Energy


November 19 evening program – Sangamon Watershed Celebration

This is an annual AWI event. Conference registrants and local watershed stakeholders will join to learn about and celebrate the resources entrusted to our care.

5:30 – 7:00 pm Reception, exhibits open, Cajun dinner served at 6:30
7:00 – 8:00 Keynote presentation: Louisiana Shrimp and Corn Soup Nancy Rabalais, Executive Director and Professor, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium
8:00 – 9:30 Concert by Tee Chaoui Social Club featuring Alan Lafleur


Day 2 – Thursday, November 20

7:30 – 8:30 am Continental breakfast
8:30 – 8:45 Recap of Watersheds and Landscape Design session George Boody
8:45 – 9:00 Recap of Technologies and Markets session Fred Iutzi
9:00 – 9:30 Case Studies of Grass Biomass for Institutional Heating plus Wildlife Tom Schwartz, FDC Enterprises, and Tom Canam, Eastern Illinois University
9:30 – 10:15 Native Warm Season Grasses for Forage and Bioenergy Laura Paine, Southwest Badger RC&D, and Roger Staff, NRCS
10:15 – 10:30 Networking break
10:30 – 11:00 Nutrient and Sediment Loss Reduction by Perennial & Cover Crops Greg McIsaac, Agricultural Watershed Institute
11:00 – 11:30 Bioenergy Landscapes for Water Quality and Greenhouse Gas Reduction M. Cristina Negri, Argonne National Laboratory
11:30 – 12:00 Wildlife and Conservation Biomass: The MCBA Vision Carol Williams, University of Wisconsin, and Susan Rupp, Enviroscapes Ecological Consulting
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch – Presentation: Transforming Midwestern Agriculture with Continuous Living Cover Richard Cruse, Professor of Agronomy and Director of the Iowa Water Center, Iowa State University
1:00 – 1:15 Closing Comments – Conference Adjourns


1:30 – 4:00 Post-conference roundtable discussion / strategic planning

After the conference adjourns, the GLBW Perennial Biomass Working Group and the Midwest Conservation Biomass Alliance will host a structured discussion of challenges and opportunities for scaling up production of, and markets for, perennial biomass crops. This meeting is intended to provide input for a Perennial Biomass Initiative, including experimental watersheds in which perennial grasses are grown for co-production of harvested biomass and ecosystem services and energy conversion technologies are demonstrated. Conference attendees interested in participating in this effort are welcome to stay for this meeting. If you expect to participate, please contact AWI before the conference to ensure that seating and handouts are available.


Bioenergy and Sustainable Agriculture: Perennial Biomass Crops for Multiple Benefits

Save the Dates – November 19-20, 2014

Join us for a unique workshop on

Bioenergy and Sustainable Agriculture:
Perennial Biomass Crops for Multiple Benefits

at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois

Green Lands Blue Waters (GLBW) and the Agricultural Watershed Institute (AWI) cordially invite you to attend a workshop on perennial biomass crops grown for renewable energy, forage or bioproducts plus environmental benefits. Workshop participants will:

  • Explore synergies and trade-offs between biomass production and environmental goals
  • Learn about logistics, energy conversion technologies, and markets for grass biomass
  • Develop strategies to overcome obstacles and implement projects in Midwest watersheds or fuelsheds

Who should participate? The value of this workshop will come largely from exchange of ideas, information, and viewpoints among leading experts, key stakeholders, and decision makers including:

  • Agricultural producers, landowners, and conservation professionals
  • University-based researchers
  • Agricultural, energy, and conservation agencies at the federal, state, and local level
  • Environmental and agricultural nongovernmental organizations
  • Business and industry, including bioenergy entrepreneurs and energy end-users
  • Foundations and investors interested in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture

Workshop Content: Plenary and concurrent sessions will address topics including:

  • The GLBW vision and plan for transformational change on the agricultural landscape
  • How perennial biomass crops can help mitigate climate change and Gulf hypoxia
  • Landscape design for co-production of biomass plus clean water—habitat—CO2 reduction, etc.
  • Economics and policy innovation, including payments for ecosystem services
  • Biomass supply chains, markets/enterprises, and technologies: Opportunities & challenges
  • Case studies of watershed projects for perennial biomass crops & other CLC systems
  • A special Sangamon Watershed Celebration on the evening of Nov 19 will feature Cajun food & music and a keynote address by marine ecologist Dr. Nancy Rabalais, director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and a leading expert on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.

GLBW supports development of and transition to a new generation of multifunctional agricultural systems that integrate more perennial plants and other continuous living cover (CLC) into the landscape. AWI, a nonprofit based in Decatur, Illinois, leads a collaborative project to promote perennial crops for bioenergy, forage, clean water and wildlife in the Upper Sangamon Watershed.

For further information, please contact:
Steve John, AWI Executive Director, sfjohn@agwatershed.org, 217-877-5640

>> download flyer for this event

Continuous Living Cover in the Lake Decatur Watershed

From its headwaters near Bloomington, Illinois, the Sangamon River flows through the cities of Decatur and Springfield on its way to meet the Illinois River. The Upper Sangamon River Watershed covers about 1425 square miles. The Lake Decatur dam, built in the early 1920s, impounds the Sangamon to create a lake used for recreation and the city’s domestic and industrial water supply. The watershed area upstream of the dam is about 925 square miles.

Decatur businessman A. E. Staley played a significant early role in transforming the agricultural landscape of Central Illinois and much of the Corn Belt when his company opened a “plant for grinding and extracting the oil from the soya bean” in 1922.

Read More

Prairie for Bioenergy Project

Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT) and the Agricultural Watershed Institute (AWI) are conducting a multi-year joint project to demonstrate production of perennial prairie grasses and forbs for bioenergy on property owned by CAT in Decatur, Illinois. Learn more at our Prairie for Bioenergy page.

Local Bioenergy Initiative

The Local Bioenergy Initiative is a project of the Agricultural Watershed Institute, in cooperation with participating individuals, agencies, and organizations. It is a collaborative project to begin growning and using perennial energy grasses in Central Illinois.

In the not-so-distant future, perennial energy grasses and crop residues may be used to make advanced liquid biofuels for transportation. With current technology, renewable biomass can be used to heat buildings and generate electricity.

Using biomass to replace fossil fuel produces many benefits. The value of ecosystem services is likely to be important to the economic viability of energy crops. [read this brochure]