Department of Crop Sciences University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Agronomy Day 2006

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Agronomy/Plant Pathology/Crop Sciences
University Of Illinois Milestones

The Department of Agronomy at the University of Illinois was established in 1899. But even agronomic field research at the University of Illinois dates back more than 20 years earlier with the establishment of what is now known as the Morrow Plots. While these plots have brought much notoriety to the Department, College, and University, there are many other accomplishments resulting from research conducted by Agronomy/Crop Sciences faculty that have advanced crop production. Notable milestones associated with the Department include:

1876 Establishment of Morrow Plots
1886 Self and cross fertilization of corn that formed the foundation of hybrid corn
1896 Initiated classical high protein-low protein corn breeding research
1903-04 Established present Agronomy South Farm
1904-20 Established “soils” experiment fields at 30 locations around the state
1903-50’s Illinois system of permanent soil fertility (lime, manure, clover, and rock phosphate) was identified and promoted
1920’s Initiated soybean breeding programs that resulted in progressively greater yield potential and disease resistance
1940 First soybean variety released to public
1945 Developed Bray & Kurtz P-1 test
1952 Beginning of the modern era of weed science
1953 Illini Supersweet corn developed
1955 Formation of Plant Pathology Department
1956 First Agronomy Day
1968 First Agronomy Handbook
1969 First molecular biologist hired
1976 Plant diagnostic clinic opened doors
1984 Agronomy South Farm renamed to Agronomy-Plant Pathology South Farm
1995 Creation of Crop Sciences Department by merger of Agronomy and Plant Pathology Departments, and at same time Agronomy-Plant Pathology South Farm was renamed Crop Sciences Research and Education Center
1995 Recognition that crop rotation no longer effective corn rootworm control
1996 Extension Entomologists joined Crop Sciences Department
2000 Identification of soybean aphid in Illinois
2004 Identification of soybean aphid resistance gene

While these past accomplishments are much to be proud of, the accomplishments in the next 50 years must be much greater if we are to deliver high quality food and feed while preserving natural resources and the environment.