One of the great things about the University of Illinois College of ACES staff is their accessibility.
Anytime I'm working on a story for the magazine, it's nice to know the U of I staff is only a phone call away.
In mid-August, I began work on the October cover story. We'll be focusing on the supply and demand issues associated with fertilizer. U of I professors Bob Hoeft and Fred Below were extremely helpful in catching me up with the latest and greatest in variable-rate technology.
Agronomy Day, held Aug. 21, is yet another way U of I makes its research accessible to you, the farmer. Even though it rained sporadically, it didn't dampen attendees' spirits. The university set up four tours, which ran from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. In many cases, it was hard to find a spot on the wagon.
The trade show, lunch and the keynote speech by USDA Under Secretary Gale Buchanan were all great. However, the U of I faculty members were the real stars of the show.
Fabian Fernandez gave a great presentation on how to maximize return on fertilizers using a soil sampling program. Afterwards, two farmers hung around to ask questions. Fernandez went through their fertilizer programs in great detail, making suggestions and observations along the way. Mind you, as he talked, his lunch grew colder and colder.
There are a lot of big items on the horizon. Terry Niblack is conducting fascinating research on the buildup of corn nematodes as a result of continuous corn. Carl Bradley and Fred Kolb are conducting trials to figure out how to control fusariam head blight (scab) in wheat.
Emerson Nafziger is running a trial to see where the max is when it comes to soybean yields. He was inspired when Kip Cullers, a southwestern Missouri farmer, grew 154 bu. acre soybeans last year. Nafziger hopes to replicate Cullers' input schedule to see how Illinois' soil responds.
Agronomy Day definitely served its purpose in providing the public with an inside track for ongoing research. Remember to take advantage of all that your land-grant university has to offer. After all, you paid for it.