Undergraduate and graduate student presentations from the Department of Agriculture, 2021 Online University Research Symposium, Illinois State University
The Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ISPFMRA) is an organization made up of both men and women who are employed in rural professions such as farm management, farmland appraisal, and rural consulting. The society was once all men, but the membership of women is on the rise. Although today this society is mostly made up of men, the group of women within the society play a very important role in the rural professions industry. As young agriculture students some young women may feel that there are many career opportunities not stressed to them as much as other career opportunities. Therefore, it is often a struggle to find information from other women about the careers they have chosen to pursue. The objective of this research was to describe the current participation of women within rural professions in Illinois and to discuss how women can pursue opportunities in professional farm management. Through phone and Zoom interviews in Fall 2020, eight women involved in rural professions from across the state of Illinois provided information related to their background, challenges they have faced in the industry, and advice for young women interested in a future career path similar to theirs. The interviewees ranged from women just beginning their careers to those nearing retirement, allowing for a wide variety of opinions and career stories. Results of the interviews indicate that many young women in the agriculture industry have at one time or another felt they were encouraged to pursue a career they were not interested in, due to their gender. However, many of the women spoke of still following the career path they wanted and having success alongside their male colleagues. Many of the interviewees stressed that young women today should not be intimidated because they are women but should embrace their difference and push for excellence in their careers. The results of this study can inform young women about the career options they have and the mentors they can lean on in the industry.
Over the past decade in Illinois, both the number of grain elevator companies and their number of customers served have steadily declined. At the same time, the storage capacity of these elevators has increased. This has required grain elevators to offer the most advanced tools to their customers. In turn, this has led to multiple questions regarding the type of marketing tools grain elevators offer to their customers, how the marketing tools have changed, and how customers react to new offerings. To investigate the change in various marketing tools offered to and used by customers, country grain elevator managers in Illinois were surveyed in 2006, 2010, and 2016. Upon surveying, it was discovered that both elevator storage capacity and makeup of the business organization have an effect on marketing contracts offered and used. This year the survey is being conducted again, via both an online and paper version. The intention is to illustrate the changes in marketing tools offered to customers, identify challenges that grain elevators may face five years into the future, and assess the impact of COVID-19 on Illinois grain elevators.
Cover crops have been identified as a key practice for environmental conservation in agriculture. Despite the benefits of cover crops, such as reduction of nutrient leaching, decrease of soil erosion, and improved soil organic matter, few farmers have adopted the practice. This is primarily due to the cost of implementation. The adoption of field pennycress into crop rotations could be a solution to this problem. Pennycress, a winter annual plant and formerly considered a weed, has been bred for its oil content and is intended for use in biofuels. As demand for biofuels grows, the additional revenue source from implementation of pennycress as a cover crop could incentivize farmers to adopt an environmentally beneficial practice while not displacing the corn or soybeans grown during the summer. Although a profitable yield threshold for pennycress has been identified and successfully achieved in breeding plots, challenges such as late corn harvest and massive amounts of corn stover arise when trying to introduce a small-seeded cover crop like pennycress into a typical Illinois crop rotation. Therefore, two studies have been initiated to identify best practices for the fall establishment of pennycress following corn. One study will examine the tradeoffs between different corn hybrid maturities and their influence on the following pennycress establishment. Hybrids with a shorter CRM, or Corn Relative Maturity, often have lower corn yields but mature earlier in the fall, which is beneficial for pennycress. An additional study will examine different approaches to manage the residue left behind after corn harvest. If this remaining biomass can be broken up in a way that allows improved seed to soil contact, pennycress establishment may improve. The identification of best practices is important when introducing a new crop like pennycress into Illinois cropping systems. For the environmental benefit and additional profitability to be seen, pennycress needs to be successfully and profitably grown in a typical crop rotation.
The New Agricultural Lenders in Developing Countries: How AgTechs are Providing Financial Solutions in Agriculture
Agriculture has seen several technological changes aimed at improving efficiencies and productivity over the years. Majority of these changes in agriculture are driven by the growing world population and the resulting increased demand for food availability, affordability, safety as well as sustainability. The world's population is growing at an unprecedented pace, necessitating greater agricultural production efficiency. To keep up with the increasing demand for food, some necessary investments must be made. According to the World Bank (2020), at least $80 billion in annual investments will be required to meet the 70 percent increase in global food demand by 2050, the majority of which will have to come from the private sector. Over the last decade, Agricultural Technology companies (AgTech) are capitalizing on the need for innovations in agriculture by providing services in agricultural biotechnology, farm robotics, mechanization, and equipment, software, sensing, and IoT in farm management, and agribusiness marketplaces, among other areas. However, some AgTech companies have recently begun to take on lending positions in the agricultural sector. This study looks at the contribution of AgTech companies in solving these challenges in agricultural production, particularly in four developing countries, with emphasis on agricultural lending.
The objective of this study was to determine how the use of different sires affects embryonic development and fetal growth. Crossbred ewes (n = 15) were synchronized and randomly allocated to be naturally mated with one of two rams (Suffolk vs. Hampshire). Natural mating occurred over a 24 h period, after which the rams were removed and the ewes from each treatment were combined. Transabdominal ultrasonography (at 3.5 MHz) was conducted twice weekly during weeks 3 to 6 of gestation. Pregnancy diagnosis, fetal count, and ultrasonic images were recorded for embryonic measurements. Out of the group of 15, eleven ewes were confirmed pregnant. The mixed procedure in SAS was used for statistical analysis. Sire did not have an effect on embryonic vesicle length (EVL), crown rump length (CRL), trunk diameter (TTD), and placentome blood area (PBVA; P ≥ 0.634). Sire tended to effect both embryonic vesicle depth (EVD) and placentome area (PA; P = 0.085), where ewes mated with the Suffolk ram tended to have a greater embryonic vesicle depth and placentome area compared to those mated with the Hampshire ram.