In 1993, DEKALB came to Don Owen with a real-estate proposition.
Owen, president of Don Owen Tire Service, owns a nice plot of land just northwest of Bloomington off of Market Street. DEKALB was looking to site a seed research center. Owen inked the deal and pondered the idea of establishing an industrial ag park on the acreage. Last week, the Asmark Agricenter was the latest addition to Owen's ag park.
Asmark and the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association will maintain offices at the agricenter. However, the real draw is a building large enough to host safety training for nutrient application and grain handling demonstrations. Jean Payne, president of IFCA, says it's the first of its kind in Illinois.
Initially, training courses will be primarily marketed toward ag retailers and grain cooperatives. As the facility and programming mature, Payne expects they will begin offering courses to growers.
The building's grand opening was one of the many big events IFCA was a part of last week. Governor Pat Quinn signed House Bill 5539, which establishes the Nutrient Research and Education Council. IFCA has been one of the primary proponents of NREC from the beginning. With this legislation, the nutrient research budget will cease to be a part of the Illinois government. NREC will be governed by its own board of directors. After consistently having research dollars slashed, Payne looks forward to funding multi-year projects to help further nutrient stewardship in the state of Illinois.
NREC will be funded a bit differently than its predecessor, the Fertilizer Research and Education Council. FREC came with a 25 cent per ton fee, which will remain in place. That money will now go to the Illinois Department of Agriculture's fertilizer inspection program. On top of that, NREC will assess from 50 cents per ton to $3 per ton, depending on the board's recommendation. However, 100% of that assessment will go toward nutrient research.
"We sell about 5 million tons of fertilizer per year in the state of Illinois," Payne explains. "So, at 50 cents per ton, that would be about $2.5 million for NREC."
If that weren't enough, IFCA finished up last week with the Midwest Agricultural Industries Exposition. The MAGIE show is held every August at the Bloomington Interstate Center. Equipment manufacturers show off the latest and greatest in nutrient application for attendees, which are primarily professional applicators.