September 28, 2021

Harbach: U of I Agronomy Day goes on tour

By Chelsea Harbach

University of Illinois Extension, along with the Department of Crop Sciences, are coming hot out of the gate with program offerings for people interested or involved in commercial row crops in the state in 2021. After a year centered around online programming, educators and specialists are excited to get back into face-to-face programming. That is not to say that online programming is going away (quite the contrary). Nonetheless, I wanted to tell you about an upcoming series of field days across the state from July 22 through Aug. 19.

Many of you may be familiar with Agronomy Day. Agronomy Day is a trademark program put on by the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences annually. Agronomy Day is a one-day event that gives a platform to Extension specialists, faculty, and graduate students from the Department of Crop Sciences and beyond to share updates and insights from research that can benefit anyone invested in row crop production. In a typical year, there are around 15 different presenters that talk on a wide variety of topics. It is like a one-stop shop for bite-sized updates from people who are experts in their field of research in Illinois.

Obviously, as with most programs, Agronomy Day shifted to an online format in 2020. For 2021, Allen Parrish, the director of Crop Sciences research centers for the University of Illinois, has decided to take Agronomy Day on the road. Furthermore, if you are unable to attend one of the five Agronomy Day stops, have no fear! All presentations will be recorded and available online for viewing after the programs are concluded.

As I just mentioned, there are going to be five Agronomy Day tours.

The tours start on July 22 at 2711 S. Race St. in Urbana, which features five different presentations from Drs. D.K. Lee, Alex Lipka, Jessica Rutowski, David Walker, and Lowell Gentry. Topics being covered include hemp, plant breeding, and sources of tile nitrates.

The next tour is on July 29 at the Orr Center located at 37803 State Hwy 104, Baylis, Illinois. Presenters on this day include Drs. Kacie Athey, Andrew Margenot, Santiago Miderso, Gary Schnitkey, Laura Gentry, Sarah Stellars, and Kylie Ewing. Topics covered range from pests and diseases, economics, and soil phosphorous.

The following stop on the Agronomy Day tour is back to Urbana with a trip to the Energy Farm, 3603 S. Race St., on Aug. 5. Drs. Girish Chowdhary, Carolina Diaz-Garcia, Janith Chandrasoma, Kyle Smith, Ann Witmer, Nick Paulson, Emily Heaton, and Josie Rudolphi present topics such as autonomous farming, regenerative ag, mitigating nutrient loss, financial resiliency, and farm stress and mental health.

The penultimate Agronomy Day tour stop is at my work headquarters, the Northwestern Illinois Agriculture Research and Demonstration Center, 321 210th Ave., outside Monmouth, on Aug. 12. Our presenters at this stop include Drs. Hamze Dokoohaki, Aaron Hager, Nate Schroeder, Nick Seiter, Bryan Maxwell, Gary Schnitkey, Lauren Gentry, and Sarah Sellers. I will be teaming up with Dr. Schroeder to talk to you about plant-parasitic nematodes, and others will cover topics including weed and insect management, woodchip bioreactors, and economics.

And finally, the last stop on the Agronomy Day on Aug. 19 tour is a big one with too many presenters and topics to list here. This one at 4202 S. First St., Champaign, will be similar to the typical Agronomy Day that folks have come to expect.

For more information and to register for any or all of these programs, check out Feel free to reach out to me with any questions at

Chelsea Harbach, Ph.D., is a University of Illinois Extension educator, commercial agriculture.