Bement officials still searching for rail siding solution

BEMENT – When Topflight Grain was pursuing village approval for a new railroad siding on Bement's southwest side, it was already on Plan B.

The original plan was to build the rail siding straight east, parallel to existing Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, said Scott Docherty, the general manager of Topflight Grain. The siding is required by the railroad because it allows the Bement-based co-op to control grain cars it's filling. This prevents other trains on the track from having to stop and wait behind grain cars that are being filled.

Committee begins to forecast effects of water usage

RANTOUL – For those who are concerned about all the water used to create ethanol from corn, a consultant said Monday, consider how much more water might be used to make even more corn for ethanol.

Jack Wittman is the president of Wittman Hydro Planning Associates of Bloomington, Ind., the consultant firm hired by the East Central Illinois Regional Water Supply Planning Committee to work up supply projections for the area. The planners and residents of Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties met at the Rantoul Public Library on Monday afternoon.

Piatt County Board clears way for corn-processing plant

MONTICELLO – A group of Sangamon Township homeowners in Piatt County say they will not stop protesting plans for the Clarkson Grain/El Milagro corn-processing plant at White Heath.

The Piatt County Board granted a special-use permit to Clarkson Grain on Tuesday that greenlights the $20 million plant.

51st Agronomy Day looks to the future

URBANA – In 1991, Ellery Knake donned an Uncle Sam hat and brandished a fake firearm to dramatize the "shotgun marriage" between farmers and the government.

In another classic Agronomy Day performance at the University of Illinois' South Farm, Marshall McGlamery wore a badge and stood on his head to get across his message – police your fields or lawless weeds will steal your profits.

Farmers differ on bill, but all want safety net

PESOTUM – Not even farmers agree on the legislation that governs their industry. But as Congress considers revamping the farm bill, many agree that one thing that should remain is help in bad times.

Eric Rund said he's disappointed in the House proposal for a new farm bill because it's more of the same.

UI's demolition clock ticks for old barn, home

CHAMPAIGN – Don Maxwell's old barn and home still stand near the corner of South First Street and Old Church Road, but the clock's ticking.

"They're tearing down the machine shed and the corn crib," said Maxwell, who lost his farmland in 2003 when he finally struck a deal with the University of Illinois, which used eminent domain powers to get it.

Piatt County zoning board backs corn plant

MONTICELLO – The Piatt County Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to recommend the county board approve an application for a special-use permit for a proposed grain-processing plant near White Heath.

The zoning board tacked on seven conditions, though the county board can alter the suggestions as it sees fit. The permit would allow the corn mill to be built in agricultural zoning.

Tiny wasps from China may help protect farmers' soybeans

URBANA – Tiny wasps from China may soon help farmers protect soybeans in their fields by turning aphids that feed on them into mummies.

Illinois Natural History Survey entomologist Dave Voegtlin, an aphid specialist, and his graduate student, Doris Lagos, grow the wasps, which are about 1.5 millimeters long – 17 of them end to end would be an inch long – in containers in a laboratory at the National Soybean Research Laboratory.

Camp teaches children the importance of recycling

CHAMPAIGN – The garbage monster visited the Orpheum Children's Science Museum on Monday.

He left bits of himself all over the place, strewn pieces of paper and debris on the floor, as children searched the museum finding clues to his whereabouts. Who is this elusive trash-thrower?

Collectors bring pieces of history to fair

PENFIELD – Glenn Miller's 1955 Farmall 300 pulling a 1948 McCormick reaper cut a five-foot swath through a wheat field Friday with dozens of spectators watching.

Miller, a 76-year-old Seymour farmer, had heart surgery seven weeks ago, but said he was determined to recover in time to bring his antique equipment to Historic Farm Days, a show that continues through Sunday at Penfield, headquarters of the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club.