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Corn+Soybean Digest

Interactive Agronomy Handbook Available Online

The Illinois Agronomy Handbook is now available on the Internet at:

The site includes information on climatology, corn, soybeans, small grains, grain sorghum, cover crops, alternate crops, hay and pasture, seed, water quality, soil testing and fertility, nutrient management, tillage systems, water management, weed control, insects, diseases and other topics.

There are special pages for all 102 Illinois counties. These pages offer historical yield and climate data plus provide some 'real time' weather info for the past ten days the nearest reporting station.

"The online version takes the printed handbook a step further," says Robert Hoeft, professor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, "The online version has incorporated calculators into it so that users can just plug in the values for their situation and the calculations are made for them – telling how much fertilizer to apply, for instance."

There are a number of calculators accessible when the user clicks on "C-FAR Toolbench" in the center of the home page. The Toolbench includes AgMath, which is an online calculator that walks the user through step by step conversions for area, yield, volume, length, temperature and mass. Another tool on the "bench" is Agriweather. "This tool lets you create customized climate data and predictions for your area of Illinois, such as daily, monthly, seasonal or annual rainfall amounts," says Hoeft. With cooperation from the Illinois State Water Survey, up-to-the-minute weather information is available on the site.

"Another advantage that the online version has over the printed version of the handbook," says Hoeft, "is that the online version is searchable. It's much more complete than the table of contents in the printed copy."

The most recent addition to the Illinois Agronomy Online Handbook is a companion wireless Web site, – one of the first in the world for farmers. It offers weather data, corn and soybean stand counting, and other wireless tools like AgMath that are also found at the regular online Web site.

"Any cell phone that is 'wireless web-ready' can access the site," says John Schmitz, one of the co-principal investigators of the Web site. "These phones have what's called a 'micro-browser', basically a very small version of Netscape or Explorer. Soon we will also develop the capability to reach wireless personal digital assistant devices like Palm Pilots and Pocket PCs."

In order to view the wireless site, the user enters the following address into their wireless web-ready cell phone: Note: This wireless Web address will only work on a cell phone – not on a personal computer.

Hoeft says that the wireless Web site makes the online handbook a real time saver for farmers. He described a situation in which a farmer may be out in the field, checking base levels of insect infestation or counting the number of plants per acre and want to know whether replanting is necessary or not. Although a lot of information can probably wait until the farmer has an opportunity to go back to the house, some information is more crucial.

The Online Illinois Agronomy Handbook is a project led by Professors Robert Hoeft and Emerson Nafziger, Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. Funding is provided by the C-FAR Strategic Research Initiative in Information Systems and Technology.

A copy of the printed version of the Illinois Agronomy Handbook can be purchased for $12 plus shipping and handling by calling: 800-345-6087, option #2.

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