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Sustainability partnership sets conservation field days and training. U of I study finds consumers prefer pork at 145 degrees. IFCA offers wallet cards.

May 14, 2019

4 Min Read
people with backhoe in field
DEMO TIME: A saturated buffer field day is scheduled for June 20 near Longview in Champaign County, Ill., to show how the practice reduces nutrient pollution from tile-drained land. The Nature Conservancy

Conservation training, field days scheduled

Members of the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership are hosting Advanced Conservation Drainage Training in June, July and August in three Illinois locations.

This year’s ACDT program will focus on strategies to treat water from tile-drained fields with saturated buffers, constructed wetlands and controlled drainage practices. Each of the training sessions will include a public field demonstration or site visit.

“The ACDT provides ag professionals and farmers an in-depth training on these new tools in a collaborative and engaging setting with the hopes that every ag professional can help Illinois move the needle on water quality improvement,” says Ryan Arch, executive director of the Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association and ACDT steering committee member.

A limited number of seats remain in the training sessions, which will include expert-led presentations on the science behind each practice, overviews of conservation standards, small-group application exercises and discussions on overcoming conservation barriers

Contact the training coordinator at 309-636-3322 or [email protected] if you are interested in participating. All field days will be open to the public. Visit for more information and to register.

June 20, 8:30 a.m.-noon: Saturated buffer installation at a private farm near Longview in Champaign County. Register at

July 25, 8:30 a.m.-noon: Constructed wetland installation at Illinois Central College’s East Peoria Campus Demonstration Farm. Register at

Aug. 7, 1-4 p.m.: Macon County farm visit to view an existing drainage water management installation.

U of I finds pork tastes better at 145 degrees, not 160

Are pork chops on the menu this grilling season? According to new research from University of Illinois meat scientists, pork enthusiasts can improve taste, juiciness and tenderness by cooking chops to the new USDA standard: 145 degrees F.

“Pork cooked to 145 degrees is absolutely safe,” says Dustin Boler, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I and co-author of a new study in the Journal of Animal Science. “And our results show that everyday consumers strongly prefer pork chops cooked to 145 over the old standard of 160 degrees.”

Boler and his research team had already demonstrated that trained taste-testers prefer pork chops cooked to 145 degrees. Like the taste-testers, average consumers were asked to rate juiciness, tenderness, flavor and overall acceptability of pork cooked to 145, 160 and 180 degrees.

“The results were what we expected: Consumers rated juiciness, tenderness and flavor much higher in pork chops cooked to 145 than the other temperatures. These were the first data in consumers that conclusively supported what we knew from our own experience,” says Lauren Honegger, a graduate student researcher and lead author on the study.

The research team was able to rule out other confounding factors, as well. Consumers tasted two sets of pork chops: one that varied in pH, and the other that varied in degree of color and marbling.

Boler says meat scientists historically put a lot of stock in pH to predict eating experience. Higher pH equates to higher water-holding capacity in the muscle, which influences juiciness in the final product on the plate. But, he says, the importance of pH was based on pork cooked to the old temperature standard of 160 degrees.

Boler wanted to find out if pH was still as important in the context of today’s cooking standard. The answer? Not really. Consumers still rated chops cooked to 145 as tastier, juicier and more tender than chops cooked to 160, regardless of pH.

“It’s not that pH doesn’t matter,” Boler says. “It’s that when we do all of the other things to a pig that appropriately puts pork in a package — when we humanely slaughter that animal, when we appropriately chill that carcass, when we treat those meat products with proper food safety and preparation techniques — then pH doesn’t matter. In other words, when we prepare the product properly, pH matters less when we cook it to 145 degrees.”

Ammonia emergency response wallet cards

If you have a reportable quantity release of anhydrous ammonia equal to or greater than 18 gallons, or 100 pounds, you have 15 minutes to contact the National Response Center, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, your local emergency planning committee and local emergency responders, such as fire department and police.

Every year at both spring and fall ammonia safety schools, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association and Illinois Department of Agriculture have provided wallet cards to attendees. These cards list all emergency contact numbers mentioned previously, with a blank space to write down your local emergency committee number.

This year, IFCA purchased new cards to hand out. Given the seriousness of recent calls, president Jean Payne says IFCA wanted to invest in even thicker, more durable cards for those working with anhydrous. IFCA and IDOA will once again plan on distributing these cards to those attending upcoming fall ammonia schools:

Sept. 9: Asmark Agricenter, Bloomington
Sept. 10: Days Inn, Rock Falls
Sept. 11: Knox Agricenter, Galesburg
Sept. 12: Poe’s Catering, Springfield
Sept. 13: Unique Suites, Charleston
Oct. 11: Asmark Agricenter, Bloomington

The Oct. 11 class is an additional class that was added for those who may have late hires or part-time employees who need training prior to the fall ammonia season.

Registration for these fall safety schools is currently open and can be found at

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