College of ACES
College News

Kidwell named College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences dean

Published July 15, 2016
Kimberlee Kae Kidwell
Kimberlee Kae Kidwell Photo: Courtesy of Washington State University

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Kimberlee Kae Kidwell will serve as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences effective Nov. 1, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Currently the executive associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University – a diverse college with 15 reporting units ranging from apparel, merchandising, design and textiles to biological systems engineering – Kidwell is a nationally respected scholar of plant breeding and genetics. She served as the college’s acting dean in 2015-16.  

At Illinois, she also will hold the inaugural Robert A. Easter Chair.

“Professor Kidwell has excellent scholarly credentials, leadership experience and management skills,” said Edward Feser, interim provost at Illinois. “She has demonstrated a passion for students and teaching throughout her career, and she has developed her own leadership skills training program, which she plans to relocate to Illinois in partnership with WSU.

“From the exceptional quality of her extensive interactions with campus representatives throughout the search process, it’s clear that she will be an outstanding leader of ACES.”

Kidwell earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She joined the Washington State faculty in 1994.

Kidwell will succeed ACES Dean Robert Hauser, who has served in that role since 2010. He was interim dean of ACES for a year prior to that, and also served two terms as head of the department of agricultural and consumer economics, from 1995 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2009.

Hauser has developed and led exceptional U. of I. Extension programs, taught several undergraduate and graduate courses since he joined the faculty in 1982, and received numerous research and Extension awards.

“Dean Hauser has been a tireless advocate for the faculty, students and staff of ACES and a respected ambassador for its programs and achievements across Illinois and the U.S.,” Feser said.


News Source:

Robin Kaler, 217-333-5010

Improve milk quality and economic gain with U of I Somatic Cell Count Calculator

Published July 12, 2016
Kelly Ryan, left, a recent graduate of Animal Sciences, and Russell Pate, a master's student in Animal Sciences, work with the Dairy Focus SCC Caluculator
  • Mastitis is the most prevalent disease in cows in the top dairy-producing states.
  • New calculator allows producers to identify cows in herd that contribute the highest percentage to the bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC).
  • Key aspect of calculator allows user to view the differences between bulk tank values with and without high SCC cows.

URBANA, Ill. – Dairy researchers at the University of Illinois developed a new tool to help dairy producers maximize their profit and improve milk quality. The Dairy Focus Somatic Cell Count (SCC) Calculator allows producers to analyze their test day milk numbers and take appropriate action regarding somatic cell count.

“The main goal of the SCC calculator is to assist dairy producers in making management decisions on an individual herd level,” says Phil Cardoso, a professor in animal sciences at Illinois. “This will improve overall health and decrease economic losses due to mastitis. Making these beneficial management decisions may then allow the dairy to improve milk quality and dairy efficiency, all while increasing overall economic gain.”

The goal of most dairy producers is to maintain a healthy herd while maximizing economic efficiencies. Mastitis is the most prevalent disease that restricts producers from achieving this goal. In 2014, a survey from the National Animal Health Monitoring System showed that roughly 24.1 percent of all cows in the top 17 dairy-producing states suffered from some either clinical or subclinical mastitis. It is estimated that the U.S. dairy industry loses roughly $1 billion in total milk revenue and about $110 per cow annually from production losses due to mastitis.

“Most milk cooperatives award producers with incentives for reaching higher milk quality,” Cardosa says. “If a dairy producer is not receiving a milk quality bonus due to high SCC cows, they could be losing out on a substantial amount of increased income. Most producers are aware of their bulk tank SCC. What they lack is a way of determining how much monetary loss is incurred by not receiving a milk quality bonus. The Illinois dairy focus team has developed a solution to this problem.”

The SCC calculator allows producers to identify cows in the herd that are contributing the highest percentage to the bulk tank SCC. The calculator also identifies cows that have chronic or new cases of mastitis by sorting cows by highest current and previous test day SCC.

“Not only is the user able to find problem cows,” says Cardoso, “but they are also able to see the benefits that would result from removing certain cows from the herd by viewing the economic gains table. This key aspect of the calculator allows the user to view the differences between bulk tank values with and without high SCC cows. These values are influenced by the bulk tank milk amount, bulk tank SCC, current milk price, and milk quality bonuses per hundredweight if an SCC parameter is achieved when a cow is removed. The table gives the producer an actual figure for the amount of money they are missing out on by keeping certain cows in the milking string instead of using their milk for alternate purposes and receiving a milk quality bonus.”

The Dairy Focus Somatic Cell Count Calculator is easy to operate and free to download. There are versions currently available for DairyComp 305 and PCDart, as well as a version for dairy producers who prefer to enter their data manually. Users can visit  and click on the ‘Tools’ page to download the calculator. An instructional video is available ( that shows users how to import data from their management program, and gives the user beneficial information on how to use the calculator to analyze their herd and assist in making critical management decisions.

News Source:

Phil Cardoso, 217-300-2303

News Writer:

Leanne Lucas, 217-244-9085

Atrazine alternatives in sweet corn

Published July 12, 2016
Nick Hausman, USDA-ARS Agricultural Sciences Technician, discusses the details of alternatives to atrazine in sweet corn weed management systems.
  • Atrazine, one of the oldest and most commonly used herbicides in sweet corn, is being phased out in some production areas, leaving growers searching for alternatives.
  • Research conducted in Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon identified treatments that provide weed control and crop yield similar to atrazine.
  • Treatments including the herbicide tembotrione, an HPPD-inhibitor, performed consistently well across all environments.

URBANA, Ill. – Atrazine has been very good at killing weeds in corn fields for more than 50 years. But some of the properties that make it a successful herbicide, such as its persistence in the soil and ability to be transported in water, also lead to concerns about potential environmental impact. At both federal and state levels, increasing restrictions on atrazine use has the sweet corn industry wondering about alternatives.

“The list of herbicides available for use on sweet corn is much more limited than field corn, so historically sweet corn growers and processors have relied heavily on atrazine. They have been in need of alternatives, but the call for those alternatives has gone largely unanswered,” says University of Illinois and USDA Agricultural Research Service weed scientist Marty Williams.

Williams and a team of researchers from Oregon and Minnesota polled growers and processors to find out the weed management tactics they would consider using as alternatives.

“At the onset of this project, we engaged the processing sweet corn industry. We knew alternatives to atrazine had to be pragmatic. Are weed biocontrol agents an option? Would a cover crop solve the problem? Is handweeding cost-effective? In this case, no, no, and no. They wanted us to develop systems that integrated mechanical control with existing herbicide technology,” Williams recalls.

Most of the alternative herbicides they tried were already registered for use in sweet corn, and came from different herbicide classes than atrazine. The research team settled on 16 treatments, including three standard atrazine-containing treatments. Treatments were compared in sweet corn fields in Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon over four years.

“Standard treatments containing atrazine and mesotrione applied postemergence provided the best control, and resulted in crop yields comparable to the weed-free check,” Williams states. “In our study, alternative treatments with tembotrione applied postemergence with or without interrow cultivation were similar in weed control and crop yield to atrazine-containing treatments.”

Interestingly, interrow cultivation sometimes stimulated weed emergence, thereby reducing effectiveness of the tactic in certain fields. The researchers also found that several other atrazine-free treatments worked well, but only in Oregon.

“Oregon fields were dominated by small-seeded weed species that were controlled by more products than the large-seeded weeds more common in the Midwest, such as velvetleaf and giant ragweed,” Williams explains.

Tembotrione was used to represent the HPPD inhibiting class of herbicides, which includes other efficacious herbicides such as topramezone, mesotrione, and bicyclopyrone. This mode of action was developed most recently, but some weeds are already becoming resistant to HPPD inhibitors.

“As with most herbicides, misuse of the alternatives to atrazine could select for herbicide resistant weed populations. Nonetheless, it is possible to grow sweet corn without atrazine using an approach that sweet corn growers and processors consider adoptable,” Williams notes.

The article, “Alternatives to atrazine for weed management in processing sweet corn,” is published in Weed Science. The research was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (grant no. 2012-03266).

News Source:

Martin Williams

Symposium to address postharvest opportunities and mechanization in Asia and Africa

Published July 11, 2016
Alan Hansen, left, meets with farmers in Burkina Faso

URBANA, Ill. – Mechanization and postharvest opportunities will be the topic for an upcoming symposium to be held at the University of Illinois July 22-23, 2016. The symposium, “Mechanization and Postharvest Opportunities for Smallholders in Sustainable Agriculture,” has been organized jointly by the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss (ADMI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC).

The ADMI focuses on providing information on postharvest loss reduction, developing and promoting feasible technologies, conducting systematic analyses, and providing decision support. The main research fields include measurement and technology development, policy analysis, as well as education, training and information transfer. To date, the ADMI has built connections with research teams in the United States, India, Brazil, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, China, Mexico, and other developing countries, and developed collaborations on postharvest loss reduction.

“Our international partners will be presenting exciting results at this symposium on current postharvest loss prevention technologies and outreach activities that will make significant impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers,” said Prasanta Kalita, director of the ADMI and Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES).

The ASMC was formed in the fall of 2015 in conjunction with a 4-year, $4.7 million project funded by USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The group includes members from Illinois, Michigan State University, Kansas State University and North Carolina A&T State University. They are working to determine tools, technologies, and methods that best suit smallholder farmers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. ADMI provides extra support for the project, including the development of technologies for in-field use that can lead to reduced postharvest losses.

“We have invited representatives from the four countries involved in the USAID project to make presentations and participate,” said Alan Hansen, project lead for the ASMC and professor in agricultural and biological engineering at Illinois. “We also have a large number of the ASMC U.S. team members attending.”

The symposium will open with the inaugural lecture for the ADMI Distinguished Lecture Series presented by Dr. Elsa Murano, director of the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, and professor and President Emerita of Texas A& M University.

Topics will include presentations on postharvest loss in Bangladesh, India, and Brazil, as well as updates on appropriate scale mechanization in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, and Ethiopia.

The symposium is hosted by the College of ACES in the ACES Library, Information and Alumni Center on July 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and July 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Registration is required and due by July 8. The symposium will be open for all to attend, and lunch will be provided. For more information, or to register for the symposium, visit


News Source:

Alan Hansen, 217-333-2969

News Writer:

Leanne Lucas, 217-244-9085

ACES hosts delegation from Kazakhstan

Published July 11, 2016
The Kazakhstan delegation visits the Sustainable Student Farm.

A distinguished delegation from the Republic of Kazakhstan, a large landlocked country in Central Asia, visited the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus during June.

The delegation was hosted by the ACES Office of International Programs (OIP).

“The visit was initiated by the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State as a capacity-building opportunity to familiarize the delegation with the administrative side of running a research institution,” said Suzana Palaska, associate director for OIP.

The diverse delegation included a Chief from the country’s Ministry of Education and representatives from four universities including Kazakhstan National Agrarian University, South-Kazakhstan State University, Baityrsynov Kostanay State University, and Seifullin Kasakh Agro Technical University.

“We talked concretely about future opportunities for student and faculty mobility, especially within the areas of food science and human nutrition and rural development,” said Palaska.

The delegation met with Associate Dean for Research Neal Merchen, ACES Assistant Deans Soo-Yeun Lee and Mary Lowry, Head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) Sharon Nickols, Interim Head of Agricultural and Consumer Economics Darrel Good, Director of ACES Education Abroad Meredith Blumthal, and FSHN faculty members Drs. Pawan Takhar, Youngsoo Lee, and Matthew Stasiewicz.

The group also enjoyed tours of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, EnterpriseWorks Incubator, and the Sustainable Student Farm.

News Source:

Suzana Palaska

News Writer:

Leslie Myrick, 217-244-5373