University of Illinois examines global challenges at first-ever International Agronomy Day
international Agronomy day
By Jennifer Shike
August 27, 2013
  • /ACES
  • /ACES News
  • /Crop Sciences

URBANA, Ill. – More than 150 international guests engaged in a global food production discussion during the first International Agronomy Day at the University of Illinois Crop Sciences Research and Education Center on August 26.

German Bollero, head of the Department of Crop Sciences, said he wants the University of Illinois and the Department of Crop Sciences to be the source for the world when it comes to cutting-edge research in agriculture.

“It’s important to relay the impact of our research and extension programs to international audiences,” he said. “The information our researchers are compiling and sharing affects everyone. People around the world look at our department as a valuable resource and we want to continue to be the place they come to for answers.”

Six nationally renowned faculty shared the latest in agronomy, weed science, crop production, pest management, and agricultural economics with a diverse audience with participants from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, China, Germany, Mexico, and Uruguay.

Maria Villamil, assistant professor of sustainable cropping systems, discussed the pros and cons of cover crop use, general management strategies, incentive programs, and ongoing research. She also shared that although the potential benefits from winter cover crops are multiple, the realization of that potential is highly dependent upon agronomic management, length of the growing season, plant species, soil type, and weather conditions among other factors.

Emerson D. Nafziger, professor of crop sciences, discussed research on plant density response, including whether different hybrids respond differently and the value of varying density within fields. Patrick Tranel, professor of molecular weed science, discussed the ongoing evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds and the significant challenge it poses to current weed management practices.

Michael Gray, professor of crop sciences, shared strategies about managing insect pests of corn in a transgenic landscape. He also explained the consequences of an insurance pest management system. Randall Nelson, USDA-ARS Research Leader and professor of plant genetics, explained how the use of exotic germplasm can help increase soybean yield. His research demonstrates that genetic resources for soybean, wild soybean and the perennial Glycine all have the potential to increase seed yield of our commercial cultivars.

Peter Goldsmith, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and director of the Food and Agribusiness Program, described the dynamics of the global soybean complex with special focus on the United States, Illinois, Brazil, Mato Grosso, China, and Argentina. He also shared recent research about institutional investment in farms in Illinois and Mato Grosso Brazil.

“Our goal was to showcase the variety of research happening in our department and allow participants plenty of time to continue on to Decatur for the 2013 Farm Progress Show,” said Aaron Hager, International Agronomy Day chairman. “We hope to create a new tradition for international guests who attend the Farm Progress Show and add value to their experience.”

For more information about International Agronomy Day, go to (for Spanish, go to