RFD News and Views: Really: Corn yield projections in real time?

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

FFA members converged on Springfield last week for Legislative Day. Visits with lawmakers took place, including this one in the office of State Senator Patrick Joyce, D-Essex. (photo supplied)

URBANA — University of Illinois scientists have been busy developing what is referred to a new, scalable method for estimating crop productivity in “real time.” With assistance from the Illinois Corn Growers Association, the research combines field measurements, a “unique” in-field camera network and high-resolution satellite data to provide “highly accurate” productivity estimates, according to a U of I College of ACES report.

The system partially relies on what U of I researchers refer to as surface reflective data, a method of measuring light bouncing off earth. Two kinds of satellites estimate leaf area index, considered a proxy for crop productivity and grain yield. The U of I research team, led by Hyungsuk Kimm, developed two mathematical algorithms to convert surface reflectance into LAI. With the cooperation of the ICGA, 36 cameras were set up in Illinois cornfields to provide continuous in-field monitoring.

“The new LAI technology … is an exciting advancement with potential to help farmers identify and respond to in-field problems faster and more efficiently than ever before,” said Laura Gentry, ICGA director of water quality research. “The last few years have been exceptionally difficult for farmers. We need technologies that help us allocate our limited time, money and labor most wisely.”


FFA youth heard in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Around 1,000 youth FFA members converged in Springfield on March 4 for Legislative Day, many armed with baskets of Illinois products and other gifts — including information on the importance of continuing funding for their programs. The youth brigade espoused the importance of agriculture education to many legislators, including State Sen. Patrick Joyce, D-Essex, who welcomed FFA members to his office and came away impressed.

“I was once an FFA student. It taught me so many valuable lessons that I still hold and apply to my life as a farmer and state senator,” Joyce said.

Prior to their meetings, the FFA contingent was advised on how to best share their views with legislators by Acting Illinois Director of Agriculture Jerry Costello II, and legislative ag leaders including Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, and Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore).


Lemonade stands: Safe for now!

SPRINGFIELD — You might have heard State Sen. Patrick Joyce’s name prior to reading the previous news bit (above). That’s because he is the hero behind a bill that passed the Public Health Committee last week, but never should have needed to be proposed. Hayli’s Law (SB 3459) would eliminate any requirements such as licenses, permits or fees to sell lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages by individuals under the age of 18. The “lemonade stand” law, now advanced to the Senate floor, protects children with an entrepreneurial spirit from those killjoys who like to “drop the dime” on kids’ lemonade stands to health department or police personnel in an attempt to shut them down.

“I can’t stress enough that we should allow our young entrepreneurs to dream big without any hurdles,” said Joyce. “Hayli’s law is extremely important to me because I once was a kid with a dream to own my own business.” Now, there’s a law this state has been thirsting for. Kudos!


Five Ill. farmers honored by Prairie Farmer

O’FALLON — Prairie Farmer has announced its 2020 class of Master Farmers, which includes five Illinois Farm Bureau members and three past leaders of the Illinois Corn Growers Association. An awards ceremony will be held on March 19 for the honorees, who are recognized for exceptional agricultural production skills, commitment to family and service to the community.

2020 honorees include Dale Hadden, Joe Pickrell, John Adams, Susan Adams and Ted Mottaz. Mottaz and the Adams’ have served as Illinois Corn leaders, with Mottaz serving as president last year. GROWMARK, Inc. is a financial sponsor of the award.

“The Master Farmer Award is Illinois agriculture’s lifetime achievement award,” said Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer editor. “These farmers are at the top of their game, and this award is based on their entire body of work in the field, in the family, and in the community.”

RFD News and Views would like to congratulate the 2020 Prairie Farmer Master Farmers!


IEMA: Prepare for tornado safety now

SPRINGFIELD — In the aftermath of tragic tornado-related deaths and injuries in Nashville and eastern Tennessee, Illinois officials want residents to be prepared for tornado season and other potentially dangerous weather events. Every home should be equipped with emergency flashlights, first aid supplies and a NOAA weather radio, according to Rebecca Clark of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
“Building a culture of preparedness is how we increase disaster readiness in our everyday lives,” Clark said in an IEMA news release. “Much like the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that we all have in our home, NOAA weather radios are a key device that all families should have.”

March is Severe Weather Preparedness Month. Is your family ready for the next dangerous storm? Rural families should make sure their emergency kits have fresh, plentiful supplies and that batteries are working in flashlights, radios and other devices.


Illinois Farm Fact:

Saturday, March 14 is the Peoria County Farm Bureau’s annual Farmers Share of the Food Dollar Breakfast, held at Peoria’s Expo Gardens. The cost of this year’s breakfast — which reflects the actual earnings a farmer derives from the food commodities — is 70 cents, while the retail value is close to $10. (PCFB news)