S.T.A.R. Program

A Free Service To Illinois Farmers
Brought To You Through Collaboration With
Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District

S.T.A.R. 2018

Saving Tomorrow's Agricultural Resources

S.T.A.R. is a FREE tool to assist farm operators and land owners in evaluating their nutrient and soil loss management practices on individual fields. The purpose of S.T.A.R. is to motivate those making cropping decisions to use the “best management practices” that will ultimately meet the goals of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

Potential Benefits & Value To Program Participants

  • Decreased nutrient loss
  • Increased net farm income
  • Gain new farms to lease
  • Reduce crop insurance premiums
  • Land owners can evaluate tenants’ contributions to conservation
  • Assist in securing local conservation cost share (when available)
  • Assist producers in obtaining documentation to support potential water quality issues
  • Assist producers to obtain potential market premiums for conservation cropping practices
  • Signage to support community awareness and acknowledgement of conservation efforts


Raise awareness with every S.T.A.R. field sign. Your conservation practices become an opportunity to share and inspire your neighbors.

Get Started Now

Why Join PCM?

It's Fast. Free. And Trusted.

The S.T.A.R. collaboration with PCM allows farmers to easily enter S.T.A.R. data on-line and save it in the PCM system. Together, we hope to grow and support our respective programs and expand to meet future needs of farmers and farm businesses in our communities.

We understand. But before you default to the traditional method, we hope you take a close look at PCM. We are farmer-led, and a trusted custodian of your data - which we guarantee will remains yours. Always.

More on PCM's data & security policies here.


Field Forms
  • 3 Minutes To Complete One Field Form (on average) - 16 Questions
  • Submit the digital form through the PCM Farmer Portal (FREE) and easily access your information/data later on
  • Complete one form for each field you want to evaluate - get a S.T.A.R. rating and physical sign for each field
  • Your local S.T.A.R. facilitator will contact you directly. If your county does not have a S.T.A.R. program yet, that's okay! Staff from the Champaign County SWCD will contact you directly.

How to Earn Your Conservation Stars

The S.T.A.R. evaluation system assigns points for each cropping, tillage, nutrient application and soil conservation activity used on individual fields. Those point values were determined by a “science” committee based on their analysis of recommended practices contribution to the goals. The total points are used in a scale to determine a rating of 1 to 5 Stars for each individual field.

Below are some practices used in the rating system and the points that may be assigned. Note: Some practices reduce total points.

5-6 Points

No Nitrogen applied in fall or spring, use of a winter hardy cover crop, no tillage in fall or spring

4 Points

Soil sampling every 3 years or less, a crop rotation that includes a small grain

3 Points

At least 75% of Nitrogen applied in Spring/Summer, total Nitrogen minimized, at least 50% of Phosphorus applied was banded subsurface

2 Points

At least 25% of Nitrogen side-dressed, winter kill cover crop, use of Triple Super, VRT, filter strips, waterways, etc.

1 Point

Continuous soybeans, written nutrient plan, limited tillage

Endorsed by the
Illinois Department of Agriculture

"We believe the [S.T.A.R.] program provides farmers and farmland owners with an evaluation of their production practices to help them reduce nutrient and soil losses and is consistent with the goals and objectives of the States's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. We believe this program can provide a solid foundation for the future of Illinois agriculture."

"Through it's objectives and goals, S.T.A.R. inspires farmers and farmland owners to enhance their farming practices that produce food, fiber, and fuel with minimal impact on the environment. S.T.A.R. is not only an easy to use and economical tool for participants to evaluate their practices, it is a model that can be replicated in many geographic locations both inside an outside of Illinois."

“This letter serves as a formal endorsement of the S.T.A.R. Program by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.”

- Raymond Poe, Director

Illinois Department of Agriculture



Help Bring Star To Your County

S.T.A.R. is supported by the Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District. The program is rolling out throughout Illinois. But some counties are not yet on-board. Contact your local county Soil & Water Conservation District to find out if they are participating. If they aren't, but want to, please have them contact CCSWCD directly. We're happy to advise.


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