College of ACES
College News


Ag Comm Huddle Reunion

8:30 AM - 10:30 AM
ACES Library, Information & Alumni Center

Join the Ag Communications program for the Ag Comm Huddle during University of Illinois Homecoming weekend. Complimentary event includes coffee, doughnuts and story sharing with agricultural communications faculty, students and staff.



ACES in Places: Barber & Oberwortmann Horticulture Center

5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
227 N. Gougar Road, Joliet, IL 60432

The College of ACES Alumni Association invites you to join us for an ACES in Places event.

Share your Illini Spirit in Joliet, IL at the Barber & Oberwortmann Horticultural Center. The facility is a 12,000 square foot facility located adjacent to the Bird Haven Greenhouse. You will have an opportunity to tour the green houses, enjoy dinner and a short program from the University of Illinois College of ACES.

We hope you will join us for an evening to network and celebrate agriculture with the College of ACES.

When: Thursday, October 15, 2015

Where: Barber & Oberwortmann Horticultural Center
227 N. Gougar Road, Joliet, IL 60432

5:00 p.m. - Tour of greenhouses
6:00 p.m. - Buffet Dinner
7:00 p.m. - Program
8:00 p.m. - Wrap Up

Cost: $25.00 per person

RSVP by Friday, October 2, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.

Register online:

For questions or assistance, please contact the University of Illinois College of ACES Alumni Association at 217-333-7744


MEAS Lunch & Learn: What Works in Agricultural Development?

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Heritage Room, ACES Library, 1101 S. Goodwin, Urbana

All are invited to attend a Lunch & Learn hosted by the Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) project in the Dept. of Agricultural and Consumer Economics:

"What Works in Agricultural Development?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Noon - 1:30 p.m. Heritage Room, ACES Library

Hear shared experiences from the ECHO, a NGO that works to fight hunger and promote agricultural development among smallholder farmers (, and the USAID-funded MEAS project drawing from work in Ghana, the Republic of Georgia, and other developing regions around the world.

Please R.S.V.P. to Melissa Warmbier at by Monday, September 28. Pizza will be served.


ACE Departmental Seminar - Chris Seifert

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
426-428 Mumford Hall

The Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics is proud to present

Christopher Seifert
Director of Agronomic Data Science

Christopher Seifert is the Director of Agronomic Data Science at Granular.  He holds a MS and BS in Earth Systems from Stanford University and its currently on leave from a doctoral program there.  Previously, Chris has held roles at Google and NASA and was the first ag-tech hire at the Climate Corporation, which he left to found AcreValue, the world's first web-based automated valuation model for farmland.

Title:  Valuing $.5 Trillion of Farmland with Terabytes of Data

What does it take to estimate the value of millions of farm fields? In this talk I will discuss the spatial data pipeline and parallel processing infrastructure that makes it possible to combine tens of disparate agricultural and economic datasets for the task, as well as some of the perils and pitfalls of constructing such a system (e.g. how the above image came to be). I will close by giving a vision for how new remote sensing platforms may help reshape how farmland values are estimated in the 21st century.

Friday, October 2, 2015
12:00-1:00 p.m.
426-428 Mumford Hall

Chris Seifert will be available for meetings on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday.  
Please contact Melissa ( if you would like to visit with him.



New approach for assessing insecticide toxicity could improve environmental programs, policies

Published September 23, 2015
sandy bottom

Urbana, Ill. – A new grant to the Illinois Water Resources Center to fund researchers at Southern Illinois University could improve the accuracy and speed of monitoring programs used to gauge the health of waterways and set environmental regulations. 
The three-year research project, led by SIU's Michael Lydy, will use sediment samples collected by the U.S. Geological Survey during a larger contaminant study in the Northeast to test a new approach for measuring the toxicity of pyrethroid insecticides in urban streams. 

“We are very pleased to continue our support of research with real significance for officials and communities in Illinois and throughout the country,” said Brian Miller, director of the Illinois Water Resources Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
One of four projects selected this year by USGS in cooperation with the National Centers of Water Resources, the study will also examine the prevalence of pyrethroid resistance in a crustacean used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others to determine the overall toxicity of water and sediment. Resistance in Hyalella azteca—something already seen in California—would raise doubts about the accuracy of a spectrum of state and federal biomonitoring programs.
“The development of pyrethroid resistance in these populations could lead regulatory agencies to assume that water quality in contaminated streams is better than it actually is,” said Lydy, an environmental toxicologist who together with a researcher at Benedictine University at Springfield will lead a team of students to complete the study.
Just as important, he said, is the chain reaction chemical resistance could trigger. The longer Hyalella azteca live in pyrethroid-polluted waters, the more the chemical builds up in their tissue. Those high levels may be passed up the food chain when the crustacean is eaten by fish and birds.
To assess pyrethroid toxicity, Lydy and his partners will take advantage of a sampling method known as Tenax. The approach will allow them to hone in on the level of insecticide aquatic animals are actually exposed to instead of how much total chemical is in the waterway. This distinction is key for compounds like pyrethroids, which quickly bind to sediment and remain out of reach to some species.
Together with toxicity studies conducted with Hyalella azteca and other species commonly exposed to pyrethroids, the results will allow scientists and natural resource managers to more accurately predict the threat to aquatic life in roughly 48 hours—and at a fraction of the cost of more traditional monitoring methods.
Related work conducted in California by Lydy and others has already led to a cap on how much pyrethroid can flow into rivers and lakes while still meeting standards set by the Clean Water Act. These caps, known as total maximum daily loads, are used to control everything from mercury to E. coli.
The wide-reaching implications of the study make it a unique opportunity for the graduate and undergraduate students who will play a central role in the project.

New fungal leaf disease of corn “tar spot” identified in 3 northern Illinois counties

Published September 22, 2015
Symptoms of tar spot on corn leaves from LaSalle County, Ill. Photo courtesy of University of Illinois Plant Clinic

URBANA, Ill. - Corn leaf samples from three northern Illinois counties have been confirmed positive for the fungus Phyllachora maydis or its common name tar spot, according to University of Illinois Plant Clinic director Suzanne Bissonnette.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced news of the disease yesterday. Megan Romby, a national plant pathologist with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service in Beltsville, Md., confirmed that the samples were positive for the disease in the Illinois counties of LaSalle, DeKalb, and Bureau.

The samples were collected from commercial fields by Monsanto breeders and pathologists and sent to Kiersten Wise of Purdue University in response to her inquiry for samples and distribution information of the tar spot pathogen. Wise and Purdue Plant Clinic director Gail Ruhl initially identified the pathogen, which is new to the United States, almost two weeks ago and submitted confirmation samples to the USDA.

Bissonnette said upon receipt of the Illinois samples, they diagnosed the fungus, contacted the University of Illinois Plant Clinic, and submitted the Illinois samples to the USDA for confirmation.

“Scouting for the disease has been active in Illinois,” Bissonnette said. “Jennifer Chaky of Pioneer Plant Diagnostic Clinic also has samples from Bureau County diagnosed with tar spot.  The University of Illinois Plant Clinic has also diagnosed LaSalle county samples from Russ Higgins, U of I Extension agronomist in northern Illinois.”

Tar spot has distinctive symptoms. The fungal fruiting body, called an ascomata, looks like a spot of tar on the leaf. Lesions are black and sunken oval or circular. They can be small flecks of about 1/64 of an inch up to about 5/64 of an inch. The lesions can merge together to produce an affected area up to 3/8 of an inch. “If you run your finger across the leaf you will feel tiny bumps,” Bissonnette explained.

Prior to the Indiana finding, tar spot was known to occur only in cool humid areas at high elevations in Latin America.

“There are actually two fungi that cause tar spot disease on corn: Phyllachora maydis and Monographella maydis,” Bissonnette said. “While Monographella maydis is known to be able to cause economic yield losses in Latin America, Phyllachora maydis is not known to significantly reduce yield. Other pathogens may be confused with tar spot, especially the overwintering teliospore or black phase of corn rust. Also, there are many fungi, called saprophytes that feed on dead corn tissue and form black splotches on the leaves.”

To date only one of the pathogens, Phyllachora maydis, has been found in Indiana and Illinois.

Growers who suspect tar spot are encouraged to submit a sample to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic. “We would like to get a comprehensive idea of distribution in the state,” Bissonnette said.

For more information on tar spot of corn, please see the USDA-ARS Diagnostic Fact Sheet at


Research in Germany: DAAD programs and funding opportunities

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
ACES Library (1101 S. Goodwin Urbana, IL), Monsanto Multimedia Studio #008 lower level

Illinois International and Global Education and Training (GET) present the info session "Research in Germany: DAAD programs and funding opportunities"  led by Ms. Uschi Niethammer, Program Officer of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in New York.

Registration is required:

Ms. Niethammer will provide an overview of the German research and scientific academic system and funding opportunities for research collaboration and mobility.

This event is for faculty, graduate students, postdocs and staff of all disciplines interested in having a better understanding of the German academic and scientific research system and the programs and opportunities that are sponsored by the DAAD for researcher mobility and research collaboration.

Sponsors: DAAD, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, EU Center, the Graduate College, ACES Office of International Programs, GET, Illinois International

Focus on soybean acreage

Published September 21, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – Surveys conducted by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in June revealed that producers had planted or intended to plant 85.1 million acres of soybeans in 2015. The extremely wet weather in June resulted in a July re-survey of those producers in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas who had indicated in the June survey that they had intended acres that were not yet planted. That re-survey resulted in an 800,000 acre reduction in the estimate of planted acreage of soybeans, to a total of 84.3 million acres.

According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, questions about the magnitude of planted acreage of soybeans persist. “In particular, extremely wet weather in June in parts of the eastern Corn Belt raised questions about whether all the intended acres in that area were actually planted,” Good said.

NASS will update the estimate of planted acreage of soybeans in the Oct. 9 Crop Production report. That estimate will incorporate administrative data, primarily from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers participating in federal farm programs are required to report planted acreage to FSA. FSA releases monthly summaries of the producer reports that have been received and processed to date beginning in August.

Good said those reports contain clues about how NASS may change its acreage estimate in October. While NASS will have access to the FSA data for the Oct. 9 Crop Production report, FSA is not scheduled to post that report on its website until Oct. 14.

“Anticipating the NASS October estimate of planted acres of soybeans based on FSA acreage data is a two-step process,” Good said. “First, the pattern of changes in FSA monthly planted acreage data is examined to anticipate the magnitude of planted acreage that might be reported in October this year. Second, the relationship between the FSA and NASS October acreage estimates is examined in order to anticipate the likely NASS October acreage estimate this year. This process is illustrated using the experience of the past three years.”

In 2012, a year of very early planting, Good said the FSA report of planted acreage of soybeans increased by 0.8 million acres from August to September and by only 0.096 million acres from September to October, for a total increase of only 0.896 million acres. The increases in 2013, a year of very late planting, were 2.6 million in September and 0.6 million in October, for a total increase of 3.2 million acres. In 2014, a year of moderately late planting, the increases were 1.6 million in September and 0.2 million in October, for a total increase of 1.8 million acres.

“The variation in the pattern of changes in monthly FSA reports of planted acreage makes it difficult to anticipate the October report this year,” Good said. “In terms of planting progress nationally, 2015 was more similar to 2014 than to either 2012 or 2013. In 2014, the October report of planted acres was 1.8 million above the August report. This year, the September FSA report of planted acreage totaled 80.7 million acres, 1.2 million above the August report. Expectations might be for the October report of acreage to be about 0.6 to 0.8 million acres above the September report, for a total of 81.3 to 81.5 million acres.”

The October NASS estimate of planted acreage as a percentage of the FSA report of planted acreage in October was 101.8, 101.7, and 103.9 in 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively.

“Relationships between NASS and FSA October acreage data over the past three years suggest that the NASS October estimate of planted acreage this year could be as much as 0.4 million acres larger than the current estimate to 1.6 million acres smaller than the current estimate,” Good said. “The magnitude of the potential range, about two million acres, is similar to the experience of the past three years. The NASS October estimate of planted acreage exceeded the September estimate by 1.1 million acres in 2012 but was about 0.7 million less than the September estimate in 2013 and 2014.”

Expectations for the final NASS estimate of planted acreage, to be released in January 2016, can be updated following the release of the October FSA acreage report and the NASS October acreage estimate. The final NASS estimate of planted acreage in the previous three years ranged from 0.5 million less than the October estimate to 0.3 million more than the October estimate. That final estimate represented 101.8 to 103.0 percent of the October FSA acreage report.

“The change in the NASS soybean acreage estimate, if any, next month would have to be near the extreme of a decline of 1.6 million acres suggested by recent history to substantially alter the 2015-16 supply and consumption balance sheet,” Good said. “With a national average yield near 47 bushels, a 1.6 million acre decline represents 75 million bushels, assuming the difference between planted and harvested acreage remains near the current estimate of only about 0.8 million acres. With all other World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report balance sheet projections unchanged, a decline of that magnitude would point to year-ending stocks of 375 million bushels, rather than the 450 million bushels currently projected.

“Based on the nature of the 2015 planting season, we judge that the NASS October acreage estimate could be small enough to lower the projection of 2015-16 marketing year-ending stocks to less than 400 million bushels,” Good said. “Stocks at that level would be expected to support prices at current levels. On the other hand, higher prices will likely require some combination of a lower yield forecast or improved export demand.”