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Doug Wiegand
PRECISION: Doug Wiegand of Precision Planting spoke at the company’s annual winter conference last year.

Quick Take: Winter conference, soy yield challenge, new books

Precision Planting will hold its annual winter conference this month. Illinois Soybean Association announces yield challenge winners. Illinoisans author new books.

Precision Planting’s annual winter conference Jan. 15-18

Precision Planting is holding its annual winter conference at its Tremont, Ill., headquarters Jan. 15-18. The same content will be repeated each day and simulcasted to locations in seven other states.

The annual winter conference attracts thousands of growers from around the world who are looking to improve upon their equipment and learn about new precision ag technologies to help them be more productive and gain more insight into leading agronomic strategies.

“During the off-season is when the leading farmers consider their practices and evaluate any areas that could be improved upon for better profitability on the farm,” says Bryce Baker, marketing manager for Precision Planting. “This year’s winter conference will provide attendees with ideas to improve agronomic performance of their fields and showcase new products and technologies to help them improve performance of their existing equipment.”

Precision Planting engineers will be on hand to present new products, and agronomists will showcase insights learned in the field with Precision Panting technologies such as SmartFirmer, mSet and the 20/20 monitor.

Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with designers of the new products and agronomists. They can also hear the latest research results from the Precision Technology Institute, the company’s 200-acre research farm in Pontiac, Ill. The conference topics will include:

• Rethinking Fertility
• Managing the Furrow and the Field
• Closing in on Emergence
• Smart Management of Variability
• 2018 Agronomic Trial Results

Anyone interested in attending can register online.

Soybean Yield Challenge winners announced

With the 2018 soybean season setting records in Illinois and other states, it is no surprise that several producers topped 100 bushels per acre in the Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program’s annual Soybean Yield Challenge competition.

In its eighth year, 66 entries were considered for top honors in four contests — the 100-Bushel Challenge, the Crop Region Contest, the Double-Crop Challenge and Side-by-Side Contest.

“We always are learning new management practices and techniques that allow us to produce soybeans more sustainably than before,” says Lynn Rohrscheib, soybean farmer from Fairmount and ISA chairwoman. “The yield challenge encourages producers in that pursuit of continuous improvement for both our local communities and a growing world population.”

Proving this year to be an exceptional one for soybeans, 15 producers harvested soybeans surpassing 100 bushels per acre, with another 30 breaking the 90-bushel mark.

Taking the top honor and outyielding last year’s winner by less than a bushel, Paul Klein of Seymour won the 100-Bushel Challenge, with 110.94 bushels per acre on his Champaign County field. In the irrigated category, Greg McClure broke the century mark with 110.19 bushels per acre. Winners of the irrigated and nonirrigated categories each will receive a grand prize of $4,000.

Yield challenge winners and top achievers will be recognized Feb. 4 in Springfield at an awards banquet hosted on the eve of the 2019 Soybean Summit. The summit will be held Feb. 5 at the Crowne Plaza Springfield.

New book on farm bill history

There’s a new book tracing the political evolution of American farm and food legislation over the 100-year history of various farm bills passed by Congress.

Authored by Jonathan Coppess, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, the book, “The Fault Lines of Farm Policy,” explores how the very first farm bill came together in 1933.

Coppess also charts the political journey the U.S. has been on since then. He highlights lessons from how past bills came together and how those lessons can help inform future farm bills.

Coppess has spent much of his career working on farm bills, starting with the 2008 bill, when he worked in the U.S. Senate. For over eight years in Washington, D.C., he worked on policies and legislation, negotiating provisions and eventually implementing a farm bill with the USDA Farm Service Agency.

Jonathan Coppess
FARM BILL: A new book by University of Illinois clinical assistant professor Jonathan Coppess tracks the history of U.S. farm policy.

“Because of the way the farm bill has been put together over time, it’s really a window into Congress and government,” Coppess says. “When you step back, you see, historically, how regional interests came into play. For example, maybe the South and the Midwest had to agree to something, and they fought to a stalemate on an issue. And then all of the sudden, the urban interests get involved. Seeing that form out over time is when it hit me — the amount of perspective this history provides on congressional procedure and process.”

Coppess describes the farm bill as a “food security bill” that authorizes a variety of programs that support farmers, conserve natural resources, help rural communities, invest in agricultural and food research, and help lower-income families put food on the table through food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The intersection of where each of those pieces must come together to get the bill passed every five years is the origin of the book’s title: fault lines, as Coppess calls it.

“We know that corn, cotton and wheat [interests] came together in the 1920s and started trying to come up with ways to help their farmers. Over time, though, there are these conflicts among the interests. So when the coalition comes together, there are these fault lines where they meet on policy,” Coppess says.

“The Fault Lines of Farm Policy” is now available from University of Nebraska Press.

New book: ‘Fertilizer for the Funnybone’

Gary Guest, a 60-year-old Washington County, Ill., farmer, recently authored his first book, “Fertilizer for the Funnybone.” His first venture into publishing is doubtful to be his last as he takes a lifetime of experience on his and his wife’s small grain and cattle farm to make readers laugh.

“Ever since I was young, I’ve loved the idea of making people laugh,” Guest says. “There are so many things in this world that we can be sad or serious about. Sometimes a little laughter can help us forget about the rest of the world, at least for a little bit.”

While almost all the content in the book centers around Guest’s agricultural life, the author’s message of the importance of family and friends will resonate with many readers.

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