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Welcome

Gary Heichel
Gary Heichel
Professor and Head
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 333-9480; gheichel@illinois.edu

Welcome to Agronomy Day, a one-stop educational opportunity for you to learn the latest information on profitable, sustainable, and environmentally sound strategies for producing food and feed crops, and for protecting natural resources. This 44th consecutive Agronomy Day is a partnership among several academic units in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. It's one approach that we use to report to the citizens of Illinois on the scope, timeliness, and importance of our educational and research programs.

Agronomy Day attendees wait for a field tour to begin

Figure 1. Agronomy Day attendees wait for a field tour to begin

The Illinois food and agriculture system is in the dawn of a new millennium. The rapid pace of change in science, technology, and information about agriculture challenges producers and policymakers to remain current. The need for quality and timely information about choice of inputs, crop management, environmental stewardship, and marketing of specialty and commodity crops is compelling. In response to these needs, this year's Agronomy Day provides information to appeal to every interest, including: management of nematodes and rootworms, GMO crops, new and emerging crop diseases, responsible use of fertilizer nutrients, vegetative filter strips to cleanse water, dates and rates for seeding, "machine vision" to guide farm equipment, and educational opportunities in the College.

Cropping systems cover about 66% of the land surface in Illinois. In 1998, field, food, and floriculture crops contributed more than $7.3 billion to the Illinois economy; animal products contributed another $1.9 billion. Processing industries that transform these agricultural commodities into foods, export products, industrial feedstocks, ethanol, and other consumer goods in the Illinois food system employ about 20% of our citizens and generate a large proportion of state revenue.

Although cropping systems are an important source of Illinois income and employment, they touch the quality of life of all urban and rural consumers in other dimensions. After all, the building blocks of a quality life and of a profitable food and agricultural system – healthy soil, clean air, healthy plants, sound management and ethics, and nutritious, safe food – are inseparable.

The theme of Agronomy Day 2000, "Farming Systems for the Future," is our report to Illinois citizens of progress toward the goals of protecting natural resources and providing consumers with safe and nutritious food as our state expands its leadership role in the global food system of the 21st century. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

We're delighted to have you with us!

Gary H. Heichel
Crop Sciences Department Head

Emerson Nafziger gives a field

Figure 2. At a recent Agronomy Day,
Emerson Nafziger gives a field
tour presentation on corn planting depth.


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Department of Crop Sciences
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois Extension
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