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Fred Below Austin Keating
TAKING A TOUR: University of Illinois crop physiologist Fred Below will be presenting data from his research group on optimizing agronomic practices to achieve maximum yield at this year’s Agronomy Day.

Agronomy Day, farm income conference, new SoilWeb app

Quick Take: U of I will hold 62nd Agronomy Day. IFB announces income and innovation conference. USDA releases SoilWeb app 2.0.

U of I to host 62nd Agronomy Day

Farmers will have the opportunity to learn from more University of Illinois scientists than ever before during the 62nd Agronomy Day on Aug. 22. Researchers and Extension specialists from across the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will share discoveries in agronomy and land stewardship.

In recent years, participants could attend anywhere from three to five tours. This year, Agronomy Day will include seven tours:

Crop production. This tour will feature work from Fred Below’s research group, focusing on optimizing agronomic practices to achieve maximum yield in row crops.

Crop protection. This tour will discuss crop diseases and weed issues for row crops.

Crop pests. This tour will include insect pest updates and management for row crops.

Ecology. This tour will discuss cover crops and habitat considerations for wildlife.

Agricultural economics. This tour will highlight ways to maximize profit in today’s agricultural market.

Specialty crops. This tour will include information on growing edamame, organic corn, and hemp for CBD, fiber and grain.

Crop improvement. This tour will showcase work from ACES researchers to develop better cultivars.

Similar to last year’s Agronomy Day, tours will be held in multiple tents and buildings at 4202 S. First St. in Savoy, Ill. Attendees can earn certified crop adviser (CCA) credits for completing tours.

Directions and additional information appear on the Agronomy Day website.

IFB announces Farm Income and Innovation Conference

Illinois Farm Bureau’s Farm Income and Innovation Conference is scheduled for July 30-31 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

The preconference seminar kicks off the evening of July 30. It features Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at University of California at Davis. Van Eenennaam will discuss misinformation in agriculture and how it threatens sustainability and innovation. She will also speaking during the first general session at the full conference.

July 31 is the day of the full conference. Three general sessions and six breakout sessions will help farmers analyze and adapt to today’s complicated trade landscape, as well as efficiently manage their farms even as profit margins continue to erode.

Breakout session topics include:

Farm management. This session will be led by Paul Stoddard, lecturer in agribusiness at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Grain market outlook. This session will be led by Todd Hubbs, assistant professor in agricultural commodity markets, University of Illinois College of ACES.

Health insurance for farmers. This session will be led by Sara Sturgeon, lead brokered insurance solutions with Country Financial.

Cash rents and farmland market outlook. This session will be led by David Klein, vice president, managing broker and agricultural asset manager for Soy Capital Ag Services.

Hog outlook. This session will be led by Dustin Baker of the National Pork Producers Council.

Drones and crop loss assessments. This session will be led by Brad Clow of Country Financial.

The midday general session after lunch will focus on exports and will be led by Veronica Nigh, international trade economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C.

Finally, Jolene Brown, a popular speaker from West Branch, Iowa, will tackle farm succession and proven methods to help resolve family farm succession issues.

Those wishing to attend the conference may register through July 24 by contacting their local county Farm Bureau, or by registering online. On-site registration will be available the day of the conference.

USDA releases SoilWeb 2.0

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University of California at Davis recently announced the release of the iOS and Android SoilWeb app, version 2.0.

The app has a cleaner and more modern interface with GPS location-based links to access detailed digital soil survey data published by the NRCS for most of the U.S. The newly updated app is available as a free download on Google Play and at the Apple App Store.

“SoilWeb reached a new milestone this year when it was integrated with Google Maps and designed to scale across any device — desktop, tablet or smartphone,” says NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “The SoilWeb app is a portable interface to authoritative digital soil survey data from NRCS, giving users access to practical, detailed, scientific soil information on the go.”

The SoilWeb app provides users with information relating to soil types that are associated with their location. Although soil survey information can be used for general farm, local and wider area planning, a professional on-site evaluation may be needed to supplement this information in some cases.

All the soil information in SoilWeb was collected by NRCS starting in the 1890s. The resulting database, the largest in the world, makes it possible for soil scientists to generate specialized maps using computer-aided techniques.

The app was originally developed in 2010. Frequent users of SoilWeb had to rely on the web-based version from 2017 to June 2019, when it became unsupportable on Google Play and at the Apple App Store. Any users with the older version on their phone can do a simple update to access the newest version.

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