College of ACES
College News

Turner Hall Awarded in Energy Conservation Incentive Program

Published October 26, 2015
Doug Wolters accepting ECIP Award on behalf of Turner Hall and ACES
Doug Wolters accepting ECIP Award on behalf of Turner Hall and ACES

Turner Hall reduced energy usage by 11.4% in fiscal year 2015. Doug Wolters, ACES' Director of Operations; Facilities Planning and Management, accepted the award from Facilities and Services' Kent Reifsteck, Director, Utilities and Energy Services, on behalf of Turner Hall at the October 21st presentation ceremony.

To learn more about the Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP), visit

News Source:

Lezli Cline
Additional Images:
  • Winners group from the ECIP 2015 Award Ceremony. Four of the top eight are ACES buildings.

International Congress addresses global challenges of postharvest loss

Published October 23, 2015
Women in developing countries affected by postharvest loss was only one of a myriad of topics discussed at the First International Congress on Postharvest Loss Prevention.
Women in developing countries affected by postharvest loss was only one of a myriad of topics discussed at the First International Congress on Postharvest Loss Prevention.

URBANA, Ill. - The best and the brightest minds from around the world came together this month at the First International Congress on Postharvest Loss Prevention in Rome, Italy. More than 260 people from 62 countries attended the congress, where experts from the fields of technology, research, education, and outreach met with representatives from government, private industry, and international and nongovernmental organizations to discuss postharvest loss (PHL) reduction. The Congress was co-organized by the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss (ADMI) at the University of Illinois, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

“This congress was our first-ever attempt to bring all the players who really care about postharvest loss reduction to the same table,” said Prasanta Kalita, director of ADMI and a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Illinois. “It was a tremendous success. The keynote speakers, the formal presentations, and the informal discussions gave us a clear understanding of  global postharvest loss issues and how we can address them to help mitigate global hunger. I think we also saw a new level of communication develop among scientists, governmental policy makers, industry, and philanthropic organizations.”

Speakers from Illinois at the opening session included Kalita; President Emeritus Robert Easter; Pradeep Khanna, associate chancellor for corporate and international relations; and Robert Hauser, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES). Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson welcomed the audience with a video message.

More than 30 Illinois faculty and staff members attended the congress, along with eight students from the College of ACES. The students were funded by generous gifts from the Illinois Campus Honors Program, ADMI, the ACES Office of Academic Programs, and the ACES Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Other distinguished speakers at the opening session included Joseph Taets, president of ADM Agricultural Services business unit and president, Europe; Daniel Gustafson, deputy director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations; Judith Rodin, president  of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Ertharin Cousin, executive director of World Food Programme. Other noteworthy speakers included C.D. Glin from the Rockefeller Foundation, Mark von Pentz with Deere and Company, Charlene McKoin from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Michael Scuse, USDA. Sessions at the congress covered topics such as PHL status, assessment methods and metrics of PHL measurement, intervention strategies for PHL mitigation, and case studies in PHL prevention.

ACES Dean Robert Hauser said, “This congress established the university, the College of ACES, and ADMI as leaders in the area of postharvest loss prevention. I was proud to be associated with it.”

Top-level sponsors included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Deere and Company, the College of ACES at the University of Illinois, the SaveFood initiative, and USAID Feed the Future.


Online courses target weed and crop management

Published October 21, 2015

URBANA, Ill. - Each year the University of Illinois Extension’s regional Crop Management Conferences offer hours of research-based education to farmers, Certified Crop Advisors, and other agricultural professionals.

Interactive online courses were developed from 2015 conference presentations by U of I Department of Crop Sciences faculty. Some of those presentations include:

  • New (and Old) Tools for Delaying and Coping with Herbicide Resistance – Adam Davis, USDA weed ecologist
  • Confirming Herbicide Resistance – Aaron Hager, Extension weed scientist
  • Corn & Soybean Agronomy: Will What Worked in 2014 Work in 2015? – Emerson Nafziger, Extension agronomist

These and 14 other courses covering soil and water management, integrated pest management, and crop management topics are open for public viewing free of charge on the University of Illinois Extension CCA webpage.

Descriptions of each course are listed below course titles on the main webpage. To view a course, click on the course title, then click on the words “Begin Course” under the green box located on the right side of the page.

Certified Crop Advisors interested in earning continuing education units (CEUs) must register, log in, pay a small fee, view each slide in its entirety, and complete a short quiz.

If you have difficulty accessing this content, please contact Angie Peltier at or 309-734-1098.

Prevent type 2 diabetes

Published October 21, 2015

URBANA, Ill. –November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and the sobering news is that more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, with another 86 million adults at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, said University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator Marilyn Csernus.

“The good news is that well-controlled blood sugars reduce the complications of diabetes. And persons with pre-diabetes can lower their risk of developing diabetes by over 50 percent if they make a few important lifestyle changes,” Csernus said.

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose numbers are higher than normal, but the numbers are not high enough to meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes. Sometimes this condition is known as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, depending on what test was used to diagnose the condition, she explained.

“Although there are no symptoms that signal rising glucose levels without a blood glucose test, pre-diabetes is not a condition to take lightly. Without lifestyle changes, pre-diabetes often progresses to type 2 diabetes within a few years. Furthermore, pre-diabetes increases the risk of developing heart disease,” the expert noted.

According to Csernus, one key to preventing type 2 diabetes is recognizing the risk. Anyone who is over 45 years old should be tested.

You should also be tested if you are younger than 45 but have one of the following conditions:

  • you are physically inactive
  • you are overweight or obese
  • you have a family history of diabetes
  • you have had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • you are African American, Asian American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic/Latino
  • you have high blood pressure
  • you have abnormal cholesterol with low HDL “good” cholesterol and high triglycerides.

A major research study revealed that losing weight and staying physically active are the keys to keeping type 2 diabetes at bay, Csernus said.

“Be active for at least 150 minutes per week and, if you are overweight or obese, decrease your calorie intake to sustain an approximate 7 percent weight loss, to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes,” she advised.

Being overweight or obese is the greatest risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Carrying around extra weight can prevent your body from making and using insulin, the hormone that keeps blood glucose regulated, effectively. Being overweight can also raise blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, she noted.

“Regular physical activity burns calories and improves the body’s ability to use insulin, lessening diabetes risk. Find activities you enjoy and stick with them.  Start with what you can tolerate and progress to at least 150 minutes per week. Walking is a great exercise and doesn’t cost a cent or require any equipment.  Water aerobics is another option for anyone with physical limitations and have difficulty tolerating walking or other forms of physical activity,” she said.

Combine a healthy, lower-calorie diet and increase physical activity to help promote weight loss, she added.

“To consume a healthier diet, cut back on added fats and sugars by avoiding sweetened beverages and foods with empty calories— “junk” foods that have lots of calories but few nutrients. Increase your intake of plant-based foods, and decrease your consumption of red meat and processed meat. Poultry without the skin, fish, nuts, and beans are healthier protein sources. Canola, olive, and peanut oil along with nuts, seeds, and avocados are healthy fats. Balance your meals with a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” she said.

Modest changes can yield big rewards for your future health, said Csernus. To learn more about preventing type 2 diabetes, visit The American Diabetes Association’s website at .


Help for soybean industry in Africa starts with the source

Published October 21, 2015
African soybean breeders visit U of I
U of I plant geneticist Randy Nelson (right) looks on as African soybean breeders learn to operate a hand planter.


  • Soybean farmers in Africa have access to only few low-yielding varieties of seed from their country’s national breeder.
  • U of I is home to the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection, with over 20,000 unique soybean types.
  • Plant geneticists at U of I are educating African soybean breeders so they can develop better varieties.
  • Feed the Future Innovation for Soybean Value Chain Research hosted a first-ever conference in Ghana for policy makers and producers.

URBANA, Ill. – If you want a bountiful soybean harvest, start with high-quality seeds. This is simple for farmers in the United States who can choose from hundreds of seed varieties. For farmers in developing countries, it’s not that easy. Why?

Soybean breeding in Sub-Saharan Africa is not well developed, and soybean farmers have access to a very limited number of varieties that do not have the yield potential of varieties typically grown in North or South America.  

University of Illinois plant geneticist Brian Diers and USDA-Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Randy Nelson are working on a solution to this problem. Rather than training farmers how to grow inadequate seed, they’re going to the source, sharing their own tricks of the trade with soybean breeders.

Diers and Nelson demonstrated how they run their breeding programs  to three visiting soybean breeders from Ghana, Ethiopia, and Zambia. And not just any breeders—these three are at the national and international level in their countries. The tricks included simple, tried-and-true strategies that range from how to physically arrange envelopes of seeds for field planting to managing thousands of new soybean experimental types each year.

“In the past, we’ve put technology in the hands of the farmers, forgetting that agricultural research has been gutted in these countries,” said Peter Goldsmith, U of I economist and principal investigator of USAID’s Soybean Innovation Lab. “This program through Feed the Future is focused on helping researchers in developing countries. It targets the key influencers to change the foundation of the soybean system. If we can affect the source, it will have a ripple effect down through the soybean supply chain.”

Goldsmith explained that the goal is for breeders to begin to understand how to improve their own programs – showing them ways to improve their efficiency, increase the scale of their program, helping them see the types of equipment that they need, and how to introduce new seed varieties.

“They haven’t had new germplasm for decades,” Goldsmith said. “U of I is home to the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection, which has over 20,000 unique soybean types and has good relations with Brazilian soybean breeders so we can provide African breeders with high-yielding varieties that they can use as parents.

“Currently, we’re working in five African countries, but we’ve been contacted by soybean breeders in many others who also want the training and better germplasm,” Goldsmith said. “They all have the same problems. Even at the national research institutes in Africa, they are harvesting soybean by pulling plants out of the ground by hand; then women gather around and hit them with sticks. This is not an effective or sustainable technique.”

This month a conference was held in Ghana to give policy makers and those who work with farmers the opportunity to visit farms and to learn more about soybean as a commercial crop.

While out in the field practicing how to operate a hand planter, one of the national breeders said that he’s proud that the conference is hosted at his home institution, the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute in Ghana.

“I think it will open up the gates for research,” said Nicholas Denwar. “They will get to know what the stakes are in the soy industry, what varieties farmers want to grow, what varieties industry wants, and what can they use soybean for.”

Denwar explained that processors and feed mills have to import soybeans and soybean mill from Brazil to supply the nation’s poultry farmers. He would like to see soybean for animal feed grown in Ghana.

“The government intends to make agriculture very businesslike and to grow agriculture,” Denwar said. “We think that soybean is one of the crops that can feed into that agribusiness model.”

Godfree Chigeza, who was recently hired at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Zambia, said that soybean is the fastest-growing crop in Africa. “People are now aware of the importance of soybean, not just in terms of human nutrition, but in terms of poultry feed,” he said. “Farmers are diversifying into soybean for animal feed. They are able to get income, and then they are able to send their kids to school. That’s very important. In the past, the only emphasis was on human food crops—things like maize, cowpea, drybeans—but you need to understand that for farmers to move from poverty they need to have income, and crops like soybean provide farmers an opportunity to have income so that they can reinvest into their farm practices.”

Goldsmith elaborated on how this program is a very different approach to how researchers can address real needs and affect change in developing countries.

“There have been critiques of programs that just provide emergency support, yet do little to avert the next calamity,” he said. “There have been critiques of grain delivery programs that distort markets and decrease incentives for local production. There have been critiques of university research because it affects journals but not livelihoods. And there have been critiques of development efforts that just implement projects with no regard to sustainable solutions or effectiveness. Feed the Future ‘research for development’ breathes new life into how universities can be relevant and extend their service mission to include the developing world.”

For more information, visit