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Professor and Head
Department of Crop Sciences
This is the 49th consecutive Agronomy Day, designed to bring you the latest research information. This year's theme “Local Discovery/Global Impact” appropriately describes the programs that you will have an opportunity to hear today. The research that you will see provides answers to problems and opportunities faced by Illinois producers today as well as what may come tomorrow.
Global Impact: Illinois agriculture has and will continue to feel the pressures of Global Impact. The rapid expansion of production agriculture in other areas of the world, particularly South America, means that we now compete in a world agricultural setting. Much of the research you will see is designed to find ways to allow you to compete more effectively and still retain the natural resources we are so blessed with. A few years ago a new insect problem, soybean aphids, struck and did major damage to the Illinois soybean crop. In the short time since the aphid arrival, Illinois scientists have discovered and incorporated a gene resistant to the aphid into soybean that will soon allow Illinois producers the ability to grow soybean without fear of aphid damage and without the need for insecticide treatment. In the past year soybean rust has been identified in the U.S. for the first time. Prior to that occurrence, Illinois scientists were diligently trying to find a genetic solution to the problem. Their research is ongoing, but at this time no resistance has been found. In the absence of genetic resistance, faculty in the Department of Crop Sciences have established Sentinel plots in the state allowing them to identify the disease quickly when and if it arrives. The same faculty designed control techniques that will be effective against the disease if it occurs. Our weed scientists continue to watch for new weed problems that may develop in corn and soybean fields and to have control techniques available when they are needed.
Local Discovery: With new problems, come new products and marketing ploys. Be aware that some of these products may have little benefit for you as a producer. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The electronic age is producing new equipment that allows for the entry of site specific information. When done properly, this provides significant cost savings to the grower, while minimizing the negative impact of chemicals on the environment. Some Illinois producers have begun diversifying their operations by growing fruits and vegetables. While these are high value crops, they require considerable labor and intensive management. Management systems and recommendations that allow for success in growing these crops have been developed by our researchers. In decades to come, residents of Illinois will marvel at the foresight that Illinois scientists had in starting a project to develop energy crops. The only new energy that one can develop is to harvest the energy of the sun, a process that plants do very well. Be sure to stop by and see one of these potential energy crops being grown in the field.
Faculty and staff from the Departments of Crop Sciences, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Agricultural and Consumer Economics, and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences have pulled together to offer today's programs. Be sure you have your questions answered before leaving today.
Thanks for coming today. We look forward to your returning to many such events in the future.