R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Exercise caution on roadways as harvest is underway

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Harvest was well underway in central Illinois last week, including Chillicothe in northern Peoria County. (Photo by Tim Alexander)

The 2020 harvest is going full-throttle across the state, with many available field work days due to a recent lack of precipitation on most farms. Also in the ag world this week: Though COVID-19 may have robbed producers from an opportunity to catch up on technology through annual field days, the Illinois Farm Bureau is offering online field days that can also earn Certified Crop Adviser credits for attendees. In addition, Illinois has announced a pollinator preservation program, and we have the details. Please read on for more details …


Harvest underway: Exercise caution on roadways

SPRINGFIELD — It was full speed ahead with harvest during a recent auto tour of parts of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and Marshall counties. This reporter also saw harvest progress being made in the Clinton, Bond and Fayette counties last week. According to the latest USDA-NASS Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report, issued Sept. 21, just 4 percent of the state’s corn crop had been harvested. That’s 7 percent less than the five-year average of 11 percent, but the percentage was surely increased substantially when the Sept. 28 report was released on Monday of this week.

Harvest conditions have been ideal, with 6.5 days deemed suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Sept. 20, with corn condition rated 56 percent good and 17 percent excellent. The Illinois soybean harvest was 1 percent complete, compared to the five-year average of 4 percent. Soybean condition is rated 56 percent good and 15 percent excellent, according to NASS.


IDOA monarch plan takes flight

SPRINGFIELD — Officials with the Illinois Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency solidified their commitment to protecting monarch butterflies and other pollinators by signing the Illinois Monarch Action Plan at Conservation World on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The project, announced last week, brings together public agencies, private organizations and residents of the state in a collaborative and coordinated effort to ensure the survival and successful migration of monarchs.

“Though small, pollinators play an extremely important role in our survival here in Illinois and the world,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “This signing not only moves us as a state from plan to action, but also reaffirms our commitment as public servants to doing our part in ensuring pollinators’ survival.”

As part of a regional effort to add 1.3 billion stems of new milkweed to the central U.S. to support migrating monarchs, Illinois will add 150 million stems of new milkweed embedded in diverse nectar sources by 2038. As one of the largest landowners in the state, IDOT is in a unique position to contribute resources to this goal.

“We hold a special commitment at IDOT for the environment and the role pollinators play in the Illinois ecosystem and economy,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “From mowing schedules and restricting the use of pesticides to planting only certain species along our roadsides, IDOT has embraced many changes in policies and practices over the years to protect pollinators. This plan only serves to strengthen those efforts going forward.”

Efforts to protect pollinators, including an ambitious plan announced by the Illinois Farm Bureau, already were in place at many state agencies and organizations. Those plans, as well as new initiatives, have been included in the state’s action plan to maximize efforts. “Illinois leads the nation in soybean production and is No. 2 in corn, so our state’s farmers are well aware of the importance of pollinators,” said IDOA Acting Director Jerry Costello II.

Additional information on the Illinois Monarch Project, as well as the full text of the plan, can be found at IllinoisMonarchProject.org. (Illinois e-News)


IFB debuts virtual field day series

BLOOMINGTON — Farmers who may not have been able to attend an onsite field day due to the COVID-19 pandemic can still tune in to its online content, the Illinois Farm Bureau announced on Sept. 24. None field day events, each including a long-form video showing the work of farmers involved in the IFB Nutrient Stewardship Grant Program or Woodchip Bioreactor Partnership, are now available for home viewing. Certified Crop Advisors can also benefit from viewing the nine field-day events, according to Lisa Muirheid Martin, Illinois CCA board program coordinator.

“IFB has done a great job in their efforts to offer a wide range of videos and virtual materials that not only educate farmers, but also qualify as CCA credit,” she said.

Research efforts are highlighted at nine county virtual field days, including Clinton County (managing manure and cover crops to reduce nutrient losses), Henry County (woodchip bioreactor results in improving water quality), Jo Daviess County (ongoing cover crops studies), LaSalle County (struvite as an alternative source of traditional phosphorus applications), McHenry County (woodchip bioreactors), Shelby County (drainage water management and nutrient runoff), St. Clair County (using flue gas desulfurization gypsum to improve water quality), Warren-Henderson counties (nitrogen strip field trial), and Wayne County (nutrient loss inhibitor demo plot).

“Our video library includes presentations from professors, researchers and other agriculture experts from across the state who are diving deeper into effective nutrient management through ongoing research,” said Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of environmental policy. Information for each field day, including the long-form video presentations, can be found at ILFB.org/FieldDays. (IFB/Ill. CCA news)


ICC, Richland to benefit from USDA alliance

EAST PEORIA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is partnering with nine Midwest community colleges to support hands-on student learning about conservation and to foster conservation-minded farmers and ranchers. On Monday, Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement representatives and NRCS signed a national memorandum of understanding, agreeing to enhance and accelerate training and adoption of technologies and best practices for improved agricultural productivity and natural resources stewardship.

“This partnership provides the necessary framework to work together on common needs from a national perspective while also providing the flexibility to address local concerns,” said Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief of programs for NRCS, in a USDA news release. “The more successful we are, the more likely we are to drive further innovation and adoption of practices and to impact the long-term sustainability of our nation’s resources.”

Illinois Central College in East Peoria and Richland Community College in Decatur are among the college partners. In a phone call, Pete Fandel of the ICC program said the funding would largely be used to continue their research into preventing nutrient losses in wetlands.


Illinois Farm Fact:

There was no measurable precipitation recorded across the state during the week ending September 20, 2020. (USDA-NASS)