R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: U of I Agronomy Day branching out

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

The University of Illinois’ popular Agronomy Day is comprised of several different events spread across several weeks this summer. We have an update on what you can expect. (Photo by Lauren Quinn)

This week in agriculture: economists are warning farmers to brace for record input costs in 2022, and the University of Illinois’ new Agronomy Day format is underway. Also: did you know NASA is watching our corn grow? To learn more, please keep reading …


Economists: Brace for historic input costs

URBANA — A July 27 report issued by the University of Illinois farmdoc team and The Ohio State University contains a dire warning for row crop producers already considering the 2022 growing season: prepare for historically high costs for input — or non-land — purchases. But the warning came with a caveat: commodity prices could remain strong enough to buoy the extra income it will require to make input purchases.

“Costs are projected to rise considerably for the 2022 crop year. The cost category with the largest increase is fertilizer, with an increase of $40 per acre for corn and $18 per acre for soybeans,” reported U of I economists Gary Schnitkey, Krista Swanson and Nick Paulson, along with OSU’s Carl Zulauf. “Pesticide and seed in 2022 are projected to increase by 8 percent over 2021 levels. Machinery repairs are projected to increase 10 percent. The only category with a projected decline is interest costs. On corn, for example, interest costs are projected to decline from $14 per acre to $12 per acre. Higher returns in 2021 likely will lead to debt retirement, causing lower debt levels in 2022 with steady interest rates.”

The economists projected total non-land costs for corn at $677 per acre, up by $70 per acre from the 2021 level of $607 per acre. The $677 per acre is higher than all previous non-land costs, surpassing the previous high of $617 per acre in 2014. For soybeans, 2022 non-land costs are projected at $413 per acre, also an all-time high. The $413 per acre projection would be $42 per acre higher than the 2021 projection of $371 per acre, while the previous high in non-land costs was $378 per acre, occurring in 2014.

The economists cautioned that in order for producers to remain profitable in 2022, prices must remain above 2014-20 levels, which is far from guaranteed.

“A return to 2014-20 average prices seems quite possible,” they said. “In 2018, 2019, and 2020, ad hoc federal payments were important sources of revenue. Without a return of these ad hoc programs, returns in 2021 will be below those experienced in 2018 through 2020 if prices return to 2014-20 prices without having yields well above trend. Higher costs have led to a situation where higher prices and above trend yields are needed for profitability.”

The July 27 report, “2022 Crop Budget Contains Higher Costs,” can be accessed via the U of I’s farmdocDAILY website.


U of I Agronomy Day branching out

URBANA — In a departure from its historic single-venue setting, the University of Illinois’ popular annual Agronomy Day is taking place in-person in multiple locations around the state throughout summer 2021. In addition, presentations are being made available online to those unable to travel or safely attend the in-person events.

“Our 2020 virtual Agronomy Day drew about five times the number of people who physically attend in a typical year. So we know the online format is a great option for folks and reaches a wider audience,” said Allen Parrish, director of Crop Sciences Research and Education Centers and chairperson for Agronomy Day. “Now with COVID-19 Phase 5 restrictions in place, we are excited to offer our research-backed findings to folks in multiple formats and locations.”

The five Agronomy Day “tours” are occurring weekly on Thursdays and began on July 22. Presenters bounce between off-campus locations in Urbana and university Research and Education Centers in Baylis and Monmouth. All tours are from 9 a.m. to noon and include a wide array of speakers from the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the U of I Extension.

The final tour is scheduled for Aug. 19, and will be held at the traditional Agronomy Day location, at 4202 S. First St., just south of campus in Champaign. Free registration for in-person or virtual presentations, along with a schedule of presenters and topics, is available at www.agronomyday.cropsciences.illinois.edu. (U of I College of ACES)


SOLYEIC soybean showcase set for Agronomy Day

BLOOMINGTON — A new variety of high oleic soybeans grown on Illinois farms, SOYLEIC®, will be under the spotlight during a field tour as part of the University of Illinois Agronomy Day, scheduled for Aug. 19. The field tour, which will run from 1-2 p.m., will include a demonstration of the SOYLEIC plots, used for breeding for the SOYLEIC lines, at the U of I South Farms.

The non-GMO soybean, developed in Missouri and patented by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, is the result of years of conventional soybean breeding. From field to table, SOYLEIC is a functional, sustainable way to eliminate trans fats and provide healthier oil, according to Linda Kull, director of ag innovations for the Illinois Soybean Association.

“SOYLEIC non-GMO high oleic soybeans are an exciting opportunity for Illinois soybean farmers,” said Kull. “The new varieties could help farmers improve their bottom line through value-added markets while also meeting the food industry’s need for high performing soybean oil.”

The U of I Agronomy Day website notes that opportunities created by soybean varieties with high quality oil produced by the SOYLEIC trait will be discussed by Dr. Brian Diers, Dr. Steven Schnebly, and Mr. Bryan Stobaugh. (ISA, U of I College of ACES)


Corn farmer spotlighted by NASA

BLOOMINGTON — Did you know that NASA is using its satellites to study the Corn Belt and provide important views of the region’s soil?  The space agency is using its technology to pinpoint soil loss over time, helping farmers to understand how to adopt and manage conservation techniques to benefit the soil.

NASA recognized corn farmers last week on its website for implementing practices that can improve soil health and make food production more climate friendly and resilient. Paul Jeschke, a corn farmer from Mazon and member of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, talked to NASA about the changes he’s making on his farm, including planting cover crops to rebuild the soil. “This is a radically different farming system, and it takes an adventurous mindset to risk growing a crop in such a manner,” Jeschke said in the article.

A video that shows how data from NASA satellites is used to map crops and predict yields for every crop grown in the U.S. is available to view on the ICGA website, www.ilcorn.org.


Illinois Farm Fact:

The U of I soybean breeding program has been developing SOYLEIC varieties since 2015 through support by the United Soybean Board (USB). (Illinois Soybean Association)

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