The Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center in Monmouth is doubling in size and celebrating its recent land acquisition in a special ceremony for the public on Thursday, March 31.
"More than a decade ago, we set a goal to increase acreage at the Research and Education Centers," said Emerson Nafziger, Coordinator of the Crop Sciences Research and Education Centers. "We are most pleased about this development at Monmouth. Increased acreage allows us to do more field research. Lack of acreage has caused us to move some research to nearby farmer fields because we don't have enough space for it at the centers."
To celebrate this acquisition of land, University of Illinois Interim Vice President and Chancellor Robert A. Easter and College of ACES Dean Robert Hauser invite the public to a ceremony at the Monmouth Research Center with coffee at 10:30 a.m., and remarks following at 11 a.m.
"The Monmouth Research Center is vital to our research program," said German Bollero, head of the U of I Department of Crop Sciences. "Not only is this center an important geographic location from a soil and climate standpoint, but it also hosts many long-term variety trials that have great significance to our state. This research allows us to match crop management to the soil resources in our state in order to maximize crop production returns."
Nafziger said the local citizen support behind this expansion speaks directly to the high value they see in the Monmouth Research Center. In order to preserve the research center, a group of citizens formed the Northwest Agricultural Education Foundation and purchased 80 acres adjacent to the Monmouth Research Center for U of I to use for research activities.
"If the Monmouth Field Station ceased to exist, the loss of the station would have a devastating impact on the Western Illinois region and its agricultural producers," said Les Allen, a local banker, farmer and member of the foundation. "We'd lose 30 years of research if it closed."
Following this purchase, U of I purchased 80 acres nearby with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of gifted farmland from the Lucille Hart Sudbury endowment farm in Bureau County. With twice the land, U of I will have more opportunity for crop yield research and data generation.
"Our ability to continue high-quality research and create opportunities for new research projects with the added acres will help us attract more researchers to this site," Bollero added.
Each year, approximately 50 different projects are conducted by up to 12 campus-based project leaders and the center superintendent. Subject matter areas involved in these projects include soil chemistry and fertility, soil management, crop production, weed science, entomology, plant pathology, pest management and environmental quality.
For example, Nafziger will be starting research at Monmouth this spring for a recently announced $20 million USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant awarded to nine land-grant universities and two USDA Agricultural Research Service institutions.
This research will focus on keeping Midwest corn-based cropping systems resilient in the face of future climate uncertainties. The project will require five years of data collection on carbon, nitrogen and water movement. The team will integrate field and climate data to create models and evaluate crop management practices.
"This added acreage provides us with many benefits," Nafziger explained. "Being able to rotate into and out of different trials minimizes possible effects of one trial on the trial that follows it."
For more information on the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center's celebration, contact Gary O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-333-9355. The celebration will take place at the research center located at 321 210th Avenue, Monmouth, IL 61462.