Programs set for would-be farmers

A roundup of agricultural news:

CHAMPAIGN — The Land Connection will sponsor two events during the next week: a Farmland Access Field Day for new and beginning farmers who need to rent or buy land and a Farmland Transition/Succession Roundtable for those who are — or will be — involved in a farm transition.

The Farmland Access Field Day will be from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Homestead Harvests farm in Heyworth. The field day will include a lineup of experts to provide information and answer questions. The event is free to members of the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network, and there is a $5 charge for nonmembers. To register, call Magdalena Casper-Shipp at The Land Connection, 217-840-2128.

"Many young and beginning farmers feel that because they cannot afford to buy farmland, they cannot farm," said Terra Brockman, founder of The Land Connection. "That is not necessarily true, as there are more and more creative lease options and 'incubator farm' situations, especially for farmers who do not need large acreages."

Speakers will include Brockman, attorneys Dan Deneen and John Pratt, soil conservationist Deborah Clairmont, district conservationist Darryl Coates, loan officer Lance White, Dale Aupperle of the Heartland Ag Group and Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, small farms educator with University of Illinois Extension.

Following the presentations, Eric Marshall, who is hosting the event on his farm, will give a tour of his grass-fed beef and apple enterprises and the prairie and wildlife habitat he has established.

The Farmland Transition/Succession Roundtable will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at The Land Connection, 505 W. University Ave., C. The roundtable is designed to help farmers and land inheritors with issues related to farm transitions. Those attending can get information and feedback about their farmland situation and can give feedback to others in similar situations.

The $20 registration fee includes a light supper and resource handouts. To register for the roundtable, call Casper-Shipp at 217-840-2128, or go online at http://thelandconnection.org/farmland/legacy/roundtables.

Lake Land plans Ag Institute

MATTOON — Lake Land College will offer three sessions of the Ag Institute this summer for elementary and secondary school teachers who want to learn more about agriculture.

The institutes are designed to give participants firsthand knowledge they can share with their students, as well as lesson plans relating to state teaching standards.

Lake Land College agriculture instructors Jon Althaus, Ryan Orrick and Dyke Barkley will be teachers and organizers for the institutes.

The first institute, which is free, will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 9-11 and will focus on how agriculture affects people's lives. Participants will tour area agribusinesses and farms, meet professionals and take part in hands-on activities. Lunch is provided each day.

The second institute, also free, will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 16-18 and will provide an update on agricultural technologies. It will cover sustainability, alternative agriculture, biotechnology and agricultural research. Lunch is provided each day.

The third institute is a two-day trip, June 24-25, to the St. Louis area, with visits to Purina Mills, St. Louis Botanical Gardens and a Monsanto research facility. The overnight stay will be at the Drury Inn in Collinsville. Lunch is provided both days, but hotel and evening meals are at the participant's own expense.

To register for any or all of the institutes, go to http://www.lakeland.cc.il.us/as/ag/institute.

Corn planting nears halfway

SPRINGFIELD — Corn planting statewide is approaching the halfway point, according to the Illinois office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

As of Sunday, 43 percent of the corn crop had been planted, slightly ahead of the five-year average of 41 percent for this time of year. Only about 3 percent of the soybean crop had been planted.

In the eastern region of the state — which includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee — planting was moving along faster. About 54 percent of the corn crop had been planted as of Sunday, as had 8 percent of the soybean crop.

Even with recent showers, some farmers could use a little more soil moisture. In the eastern region, 87 percent of the topsoil had adequate moisture, 10 percent was deemed short on moisture and 3 percent had surplus moisture. Seventy-two percent of the subsoil had adequate moisture, 26 percent was short on moisture and 2 percent was deemed "very short" on moisture.

UI nutrient study gets support

BLOOMINGTON — Several University of Illinois nutrient research projects will get financial support this year from the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council.

The Bloomington-based organization recently announced it will invest $2.55 million in nutrient research projects this year, many of which address the need to reduce nutrient losses from soil. Some of the UI studies that will receive funding include:

— Nitrogen management systems in tile-drained fields.

— Phosphorus runoff potential from fertilizer applications in no-till and strip-till fields.

— Phosphorus and potassium recommendations for crops.

— Soil quality changes in corn and soybean rotations.

— Corn nitrogen research.

— An assessment of cover crops.

— The effectiveness of buffers on marginal farmland.

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