Nutrient Stewardship Field Day
This year’s Nutrient Stewardship Field Day on Aug. 15 at LaSalle County Farm Bureau President Dave Isermann’s family farm was attended by not only elected officials, but also area farmers. Over the past several years, it has served as an educational opportunity for sharing information such as how farmers are stewarding resources with fertility management and technology.
The 2023 event was open to area farmers, and the speaker lineup had a variety of presenters with mostly production-focused topics. A number of elected officials and staff were in attendance as well, and they had the opportunity to hear the presentations and visit with the farmers in attendance.
Raelynn Parmely, Illinois Farm Bureau Environmental Program Manager, introduced the event, and Isermann gave an overview of the corn biologicals trial that was planted on his farm. Sample corn ears were on display for attendees to look at.
Dr. Angela Kent, professor of microbial ecology at the University of Illinois gave a presentation on how modern and older wild corn plants differ in their microbiome as the roots interact with the soil around them. This information could possibly improve corn nutrient retention in the future.
Dr. Fred Below, professor of crop physiology at the University of Illinois, spoke about the seven wonders of 300 bushel corn, detailing the building blocks to high-yielding grain and sharing University of Illinois corn yield results. The seven factors are weather, fertility, hybrid selection, plant population, crop rotation, tillage, and biologicals.
Sam Leskanich, graduate research assistant in the crop physiology lab at the University of Illinois, gave an overview of research into corn roots and how root size is correlated to plant population and hybrid types. Typically “racehorse” hybrids with highest yield potential have smaller roots, and “workhorse” hybrids have larger root systems and can handle stress better but will have a lower top-end yield.
Dr. Connor Sible, postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois, gave an overview of biological products on the market and how to evaluate which ones might be of use on a particular operation.
Feedback after the event
“I think that whole group is a good group,” Isermann said. “I think there was some things people could take back to their operations and use.”
LCFB board member Bill McDonnell has spoken at previous year’s events, and this year was a spectator. He has heard feedback from people in attendance that the topics covered were very timely, and the biologicals discussion was particularly helpful in evaluating the options as many new products come on the market.
Isermann said the feedback he has heard after the event is that everyone appreciated the farmer-focused event, and there is interest in more.
“It was a good meeting,” he said. “We’re deciding whether we’ll do it again next year. We’ll see what happens. It was definitely a good turnout and I think people got some real benefit from it.”