Kirk Hanlin calls soil, "dirt where you want it."
Hanlin, assistant chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River in Hamilton, Illinois, and now has a second home in Nauvoo.
The farm bill expired at the end of September which means funding for conservation programs has dried up too, but that’s not true for not all conservation programs.
The USDA wants farmers to use a new conservation practice to help control the water levels in their fields.
The federal government will pay farmers not to damage wetlands this year,but there have been delays.
A program across Illinois and Iowa is looking at ways for farmers to help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they produce, and to be compensated for it.
The program explores ways farmers can change the way they apply nitrogen fertilizer to reduce the amount of nitrous oxide gas that is created.
The future remains uncertain for a federal conservation program that helps restore wetlands across the Midwest. The Wetlands Reserve Program provides money to farmers who take former wetlands out of production and restore them.