Today marks the final day of a two-day sustainability tour, focused on helping scientists and researchers understand the important progress agriculture has made to become more sustainable and efficient.
Attending the tour were staff and researchers from Ducks Unlimited, Argonne National Laboratory, University of Illinois, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Also represented were staff from IL Corn, Monsanto, and Council on Best Management Practices.
According to Dave Loos, Illinois Corn staff, the tour is an annual opportunity to reach out to non-farm academics, tour central Illinois, and give them first hand experiences with technological advances helping agriculture continue to provide food, fiber and fuel for a growing world population.
This year, the tour visited Big River Resources in Galva, IL. While at the ethanol plant, the participants began to understand the sustainability certifications farmers obtain so that the ethanol plant can guarantee a sustainable fuel to overseas markets. These certifications usually utilize information farmers are already collecting and do not require any additional practices, but are time consuming and can be overwhelming.
The tour participants also heard a significant amount concerning Illinois agriculture’s efforts to research nutrient runoff in water and other water quality issues. The tour heard from staff of the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices concerning nutrient management research and monitoring. They also learned more about cover crops at a cover crop plot. Cover crops are being used to fix nitrogen in the soil over the winter and prevent nutrient loss.
The Farm Progress Show was the final stop for the academics, featuring stops at Illinois ag associations and agribusinesses.
Other stops throughout the two days included the Monsanto Research Station in Monmouth and the Emiquon Nature Conservancy in Lewistown.
“This tour is an important step in ensuring that agriculture is reaching out and trying to be transparent with our academia in state and nationally,” said Dave Loos, IL Corn staff. “We have a great story to share and we always look forward to the opportunity to talk about our environmental goals and gains with researchers and academia who care to listen.”