FARMERS NEED UPGRADED LOCKS AND DAMS

Because in the last ten years that I’ve worked here (and in the ten before that at least) we have been advocating for new locks and dams and STILL haven’t allocated any funding …

Here is yet another lock and dam promo video that you haven’t seen!

I can’t really say much that hasn’t already been said, so if this issue is new to you, you might read the following to get up to speed on this VERY important issue to us:

HOW DO LOCKS & DAMS WORK?
WE NEED LOCKS AND DAMS
ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS: LOCKS AND DAMS

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

APRIL SHOWERS BRING UNIQUE FARMER SUPERPOWERS

April showers bring May flowers – a saying we have all heard at least once in our lives. This spring we have certainly had plenty of showers, both rain, and snow! With all this spring rain, it is important to consider the impact all this excess water may have on our fields. Let’s chat about some of the best management practices farmers use to counteract the spring rain overload.

First up, we’ve got nutrient loss prevention. Just like our bodies require certain nutrients to grow and thrive, soil also has specific needs in order to best support our crops.

There are three main nutrients found in soil: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A unique combination of all three creates a recipe for success to have a fruitful harvest. Too much rain causes these nutrients to become depleted from the soil, and often times can run into bodies of water. To prevent nutrient loss and water contamination, farmers utilize strategies such as monitoring critical bodies of water, as well as using research and improved technology advancements to minimize the impact. In Illinois specifically, we mainly work to reduce the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus from our fields.

Another management strategy our farmers use is reduced tillage for erosion control. Let’s start by defining soil erosion: it is the natural degrading of the physical top layer of soil, which can happen from wind, water, etc. Why is this bad? Because as we discussed earlier, the soil has a very specific balance of nutrients. By removing the top layer of soil, it has a large impact on the quality of soil and results in decreased yields per acre. Some techniques farmers utilize include various machinery that moves less soil and results in less chance of soil erosion. Using less invasive equipment while still properly caring for the fields helps farmers avoid soil erosion.

Finally, let’s talk about cover crops. What exactly is a cover crop? It is an off-season planting of a different type of crop. For example, in the summer we typically see corn and soybeans grown in Illinois. After fall harvest, many farmers may plant crops such as oats or wheat. Why plant more after just finishing a tedious summer harvest? Because planting different species in the same field will help return those vital nutrients to the soil, and help the field prepare for the next spring planting.

These management practices are just some of many that agriculturalists use all over the world. The next time we have an April shower, as we put on our rain boots, let’s remember how it impacts our fields, and what our farmers are doing to best manage our land.

Susie Thompson
Illinois State University

WHERE’S MY MILK FROM?

If you drink milk, and you’d like to know what dairy your milk came from, there’s a new website that can help.

whereismymilkfrom.com

Using this website is actually really easy with only a few little pointers.  First, find the code on your dairy product carton or container.  The code is usually near the top of the container (or printed on the label), begins with two numbers, and ends with 1-5 digits.

After locating the code on your dairy product, visit http://whereismymilkfrom.com and type your code into the small box at the top left of the website.

That’s it!

Go learn more about your food and the farmers that grow it today!

TECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE: GPS & AUTO-STEER

Technology helps us in a variety of realms, with farming being one of the most important ones for consumers. A program that aligns with technology that assists us all on a daily basis is auto-steer, which works like a GPS system in the fields. Through the use of GPS tracking and recording equipment, farmers were able to track and take note of the way they utilized the equipment manually, and this data drove the success of auto-steering (literally). Some of the many benefits include:

  1. Advanced positioning that prevents overlapping between passes or lands.

This allows farmers to reduce seed loss, and it allows them to work more productively and efficiently. With this efficient system, farmers can spend less time in the field while still maintaining high levels of production.

  1. Automatic adjusting in different directions.

Just like we want our cars to manually drive for us and gauge which direction to move in on its own, farmers wanted the same. With auto-steer, they are able to dedicate their attention to other farm duties and obligations. This allows a farmer to be more relaxed, and it increases productivity in other aspects because the focus no longer revolves around steering manually.

  1. Controlled traffic.

While we all hate traffic for our own personal reasons, it is especially bad in farming because it can cause compaction, which is when soil particles are pressed together and pore space is reduced. This causes reduced rates of water infiltration and drainage from the compacted layer. This can lead to many problems, such as flooding and lack of water being absorbed.

Much less seed is being wasted, which helps everyone save money and makes for a much more efficient and productive system!

  1. Higher yields of production.

 Auto-steer reduces depreciation and wear and tear on machinery, and it also prevents doubling or missing chemical applications, which all result in reduced yields.

In the end, auto-steer brings farming to a whole new level of effectiveness. Interestingly enough, farming technology aligns significantly with the technology we use in our everyday lives. As technology continues to grow in agriculture, the quality of our food continues to improve with it. The work of farmers goes hand in hand with the happiness and health of people all around the world. It is important that we understand the role it plays in the fields, regardless of which field we’re in!

Samantha Gorlovetsky
University of Illinois

WHAT IS OCTANE?

Ever heard the word “octane” when referring to your vehicle’s fuel? How does it relate to ethanol? Let’s take a look using an infographic from FuelFreedom.org :

Octane is in the news and gaining steam. It likely will be a crucial component of the next round of fuel-economy standards (collectively known as CAFE) for the nation’s fleet of vehicles between now and 2025, a set of rules to be crafted by two federal agencies and California’s influential Air Resources Board. But what is octane, exactly?

We’ve discussed the term, and the wide-ranging benefits high-octane fuels can bring for the public, in previous posts on the Policy CAFE page. But until now we’ve never had a simple, easy-to-understand visual tool that explains the basics.

Here ’tis, suitable for sharing, discussing and framing:

what is octane

For a more detailed discussion, check out our blog post on this topic here.

Landon Hall