When the University of Illinois decided to host an International Agronomy Day, they weren't sure what to expect.
Organizer Aaron Hager says faculty suspected numerous international visitors were looking for something to do on the Monday before the Farm Progress Show begins. To give visitors a look at hot topics in U.S. ag and a tour of the south research farm, Hager and faculty began planning a smaller version of their mid-August Agronomy Day.
Expectations were exceeded when more than 150 international visitors came from China, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico.
"We were really pleased with attendance," Hager adds. "We also had some excellent feedback."
The day was structured around six stops on the in-field tour. Topics ranged from cover crops to managing resistance in weeds and insects.
After a short 10 minute presentation, the speakers spent about 20 minutes taking questions. Hager says there was never an idle minute as visitors asked questions, examined plots and took photos.
Initially, U of I planned to host the event on the show's odd years, when it's in Decatur. Hager says the planning committee is seriously considering making it an annual event in light of the overwhelming response.
German Bollero, head of the Department of Crop Sciences, wants U of I and the Department of Crop Sciences to be the source for the world when it comes to cutting-edge research in agriculture.
"It's important to relay the impact of our research and extension programs to international audiences," he says. "The information our researchers are compiling and sharing affects everyone. People around the world look at our department as a valuable resource and we want to continue to be the place they come to for answers."
To see the agenda from this year's event, and to check out the sponsors, visit www.internationalagronomyday.org.