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Updating corn and soybean export pace

Published May 8, 2017

URBANA, Ill. –  As the focus of corn and soybean markets turns to 2017 prospects for production, the pace of old-crop corn and soybean consumption carries implications for carryover stocks into the 2017-18 marketing year. The level of corn and soybean consumption in export markets provides an indication of demand strength moving into the next marketing year. University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs, who is in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economic in the College of ACES, considers the recent pace of exports in soybean and corn markets and the implications for stocks at the end of the marketing year.

Hubbs, reports corn exports in the current marketing year exceed the pace for a year earlier through March and currently exceed the historical pace to meet the UDSA projection of 2.225 billion bushels. The 2016-17 marketing year corn exports through March came in at 61 percent of the total exports projected during the entire marketing year.

“This pace is substantially higher than the 43 percent pace during the same period last year, but poor crop performance in South America gave life to expanded exports through the summer months of 2016,” Hubbs says. He adds the rate of weekly export inspections continues to show strength with 28.37 million bushels exported for the week ending May 4. Cumulative Census Bureau export estimates from September 2016 through March 2017 exceeded weekly export inspections by 43 million bushels. If the margin exhibited at the end of March continued, exports through May 4 equaled 1585 million bushels.

“With 17 weeks remaining in the marketing year, 37.6 million bushels per week are necessary to meet the USDA projection,” Hubbs says. “Over the last six weeks, corn export inspections averaged 55 million bushels per week with a high of 61.7 million bushels and a low of 52.4 million bushels.”

As of April 27, 575 million bushels of corn had been sold for export but not shipped. Additional sales of 3.82 million bushels per week are necessary to reach 2.225 billion bushels based off of current sales figures and estimated export levels through May 4. For the last six weeks ending April 30, new sales averaged 34.6 million bushels per week.

“The current pace and sales of corn appear supportive of the current 2.225 billion bushels projection,” Hubbs says. “In assessing the potential for increased exports of corn during the marketing year, the large Brazilian second crop of corn will play a major role because total Brazilian corn production is projected at 3.68 billion bushels, which are up 39.5 percent from last year’s poor crop.”

According to Hubbs, soybean exports typically slow as the South American soybean crop enters the world market. “Numerous reports of Brazilian farmers holding onto soybeans due to low prices in the local currency provides support for soybean exports lagging behind the normal pace in Brazil,” Hubbs says.

U.S. soybean exports in the current marketing year exceed last year’s pace through March.  The 2016-17 marketing year soybean exports through March sit at 87.5 percent of the total exports projected during the entire marketing year.

“This pace is higher than the 80.5 percent pace during the same period last year, but progressing at a similar pace to the previous two marketing years,” Hubbs says. The rate of weekly export inspections continues to vacillate with 12.84 million bushels exported for the week ending May 4. Cumulative Census Bureau export estimates from September 2016 through March 2017 exceeded weekly export inspections by 23 million bushels.

“If the margin exhibited at the end of March continued, exports through May 4 equaled 1,853 million bushels,” Hubbs says. “With 17 weeks remaining in the marketing year, 10.1 million bushels per week are necessary to meet the USDA projection. Over the last six weeks, soybean export inspections averaged 23.8 million bushels per week but varied with a low of 16.4 million bushels for the week ending April 13 and a high of 32.7 million bushels for the week ending April 6.”

As of April 27, Hubbs says 251 million bushels of soybean had been sold for export but not shipped. This number exceeds the 172 million bushels necessary to reach 2.025 billion bushels based off of current sales figures and estimated export levels through May 5. For the last six weeks ending April 27, new sales averaged 14.7 million bushels per week.

“The current pace and sales of soybeans appear supportive of the current 2.025 billion bushel projection and give credence to the possibility of increased soybean exports for the 2016-17 marketing year,” Hubbs says. “While some commentators see the potential for an increase in USDA projections, it may be too soon for this type of speculation.”

The release of the May 10 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report provides the first look at USDA projections for the 2017-18 marketing year. “The strength of corn and soybean export demand bodes well for meeting USDA export projections,” Hubbs says. “The ability to exceed these export projections is a possibility, but it is heavily dependent on South American exports and the continued growth in demand from importers. At this point, the ending stock projections outlined in the last WASDE supply-and-demand figures appear to be the levels we will see moving into the 2017-18 marketing year.”

 

Carle Illinois College of Medicine announces inaugural faculty

Published May 5, 2017

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Carle Illinois College of Medicine has announced nearly 100 inaugural faculty members. The list includes prominent researchers, administrators and medical professionals with a broad range of expertise invaluable to building the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine.

“The goal of our new college of medicine is to help re-engineer the entire health care process alongside medical education,” said Dr. King Li, the dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. “This is a place where researchers from across specialties are brought together to address grand challenges, and that is a very special atmosphere.”

The college is a partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Carle Health System, based in Urbana. The college will welcome its first class of 32 students in 2018.

“To have a world-class university with diverse expertise form a partnership with a top-notch health system that is vertically integrated, with the joint ambition to revolutionize health care delivery – this is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Li said.

The inaugural faculty includes members representing eight colleges and schools across the Urbana campus, including the school of social work and the colleges of agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences; applied health sciences; education; engineering; liberal arts and sciences; media and veterinary medicine. The Illinois faculty will teach alongside medical professionals from Carle Health System and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and nursing program.

A full list is available at go.illinois.edu/First100MedFaculty.

The unique curriculum combines clinical medicine and biosciences with engineering and technology principles, offering day one immersion in clinical settings and an emphasis on problem-solving approaches and creativity.

Under Li’s ongoing leadership, an interim team of vice and associate deans will guide the college through its formation and lay its foundation. The team includes:

Interim vice dean: Rashid Bashir, a professor and head of bioengineering.

Interim associate dean of research: Dr. Martin D. Burke, a professor of chemistry.

Interim director of biomedical science and engineering: Susan Martinis, a professor and head of biochemistry and medical biochemistry.

Interim director of clinical science and interim associate dean for clinical affairs: Dr. Blair Rowitz, a bariatric surgeon at Carle Foundation Hospital.

Interim associate dean for academic affairs: James Slauch, a professor of microbiology and director of the medical scholars program.

“With these faculty and this leadership team, we are uniquely poised to shape the future of health care delivery, technology and medical education,” Li said.

Carle Illinois College of Medicine inaugural faculty includes two from ACES

Published May 4, 2017
Margarita Teran-Garcia, front row left, and Kaustubh Bhalerao, not pictured, are part of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine faculty. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

URBANA, Ill. – The Carle Illinois College of Medicine has announced nearly 100 inaugural faculty members. Kaustubh Bhalerao, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Margarita Teran-Garcia, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Division of Nutritional Sciences, all in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, are part of the inaugural faculty for the new college.

The list includes prominent researchers, administrators, and medical professionals with a broad range of expertise invaluable to building the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine.     

“I consider it an honor to be able to contribute to the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine,” Bhalerao says. “The new COM is structured around an innovative idea, that inculcating an engineering mindset among our medical doctors would empower them to recognize and solve problems within the medical system, as well as enable new opportunities through engineering and technology. We hope that we can train a new class of medical doctors that can find new and innovative ways of providing healthcare, and can be the leaders in improving the healthcare system for all of us.”

In his role with the new college, Bhalerao contributes to the development of the fundamental elements course, a six-week module at the beginning of students’ study that will provide them with the foundations of basic science, clinical practice, and engineering principles.

“We have set for ourselves a very high bar in terms of innovation in course content and I am excited to be part of a very large team committed to realizing the vision of a unique medical school. I am proud to be a faculty member of the College of ACES, which has always taken the land-grant mission very seriously. Through my contributions I hope to incorporate the spirit of the land-grant mission in the medical curriculum.”

Teran-Garcia will teach nutrition and metabolism to medical students. “This course will expand the training and partnership of scientists, engineers, and clinicians to influence the management of nutrition-related diseases,” she says. “Recognizing and challenging the approach to such complex diseases and the interactions between diet and health in individuals and families is important. The College of ACES is recognized for its scientific capital and resources in Extension, the Division of Nutritional Sciences, the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, the Family Resilience Center, and others that will contribute to holistic formation of medical professionals.”

Teran-Garcia adds, “The appointment represents a challenge and an opportunity to have a long-lasting impact on the next generation of physicians and the health care system. As indicated by Dr. Li, [dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine] the integrated curriculum will facilitate the modernization of health care delivery.”

The college is a partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Carle Health System, based in Urbana. The college will welcome its first class of 32 students in 2018.  

The inaugural faculty includes members representing eight colleges and schools across the Urbana campus, including the school of social work and the colleges of agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences; applied health sciences; education; engineering; liberal arts and sciences; media and veterinary medicine. The Illinois faculty will teach alongside medical professionals from Carle Health System and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and nursing program.

Read more about the announcement at https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/495707.

ACES International Joint Research grantees making impacts around the world

Published May 4, 2017

The ACES International Joint Research Program was established in 2014 to assist ACES faculty in collaborating with researchers based at peer institutions abroad. The peer institution must fund the international collaborator at a matching level to work on the same project as the ACES investigator. These grants are administered by the Office of International Programs in the College of ACES with the support of the ACES Office of Research.

This OIP-managed program gives ACES faculty access to colleagues and resources in peer institutions abroad in order to achieve research goals and deepen international partnerships. 

Through this program ACES researchers have joined existing research projects in international institutions, leveraging those funded programs and enriching them with their own expertise.  Faculty members from six out of seven ACES departments have received joint research grants.

Through the 24 funded projects, ACES has strengthened its ties with 13 different peer institutions including leading universities in Latin America, Africa, and Asia as well as major International Agricultural Research Centers such as the International Rice Research Institute

The program has contributed to seven undergraduate research projects and supported three master’s students and six doctoral students.  The International Joint Research Grants program is enabling ACES faculty to better address globally significant problems through deeper, targeted international partnerships.

Look for a new request for proposals for ACES International Joint Research grants in June 2017 with a September deadline.

Improving milk quality in Brazil

Drs. Juan Loor and Bryan White (Animal Sciences) work with the Federal University of Paraiba (Brazil) on “Microbiome characterization and transcriptional profiling of milk and teat of goats affected by subclinical mastitis” is just one example of how these joint grants are making impacts around the world.

Dr. Loor says, “This grant has enabled extension-related activities to reduce the burden of subclinical mastitis for family producers of goat milk in Northeastern Brazil. The findings that have been generated thanks to these matching funds have extended our capacity to understand the key aspects associated with the subclinical mastitis in the region and we expect that will ultimately contribute to the improvement of milk quality and safety.”

You can find a full listing of previously funded joint research grants here: http://intlprograms.aces.illinois.edu/content/aces-international-joint-research-program-0

Modified soybeans yield more in future climate conditions

Published May 4, 2017
SoyFACE facility
Soybeans grown in fields that simulate 2050 temperatures show signs of stress. Researchers have discovered modified soybeans that yield more than current varieties in 2050 field conditions.
  • By 2050—in the midst of increasing temperature and carbon dioxide levels—we will need to produce 70 percent more food to meet the demands of 9.7 billion people.
  • Researchers have modified soybeans to yield more when both temperature and carbon dioxide levels increase, which suggests that we might be able to combat heat-related yield loss with genetic engineering.
  • Simplistically, carbon dioxide increases yield and temperature cuts yield; however, this work illustrates that these complex factors work together to influence crop photosynthesis and productivity.

URBANA, Ill. By 2050, we will need to feed 2 billion more people on less land. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide levels are predicted to hit 600 parts per million—a 150 percent increase over today’s levels—and 2050 temperatures are expected to frequently match the top 5 percent hottest days from 1950-1979. In a three-year field study, researchers proved engineered soybeans yield more than conventional soybeans in 2050’s predicted climatic conditions.

“Our climate system and atmosphere are not changing in isolation from other factors—there are actually multiple facets,” says USDA/ARS scientist Carl Bernacchi, an associate professor of plant biology at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. He is affiliated with the Department of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. “The effect of carbon dioxide in and of itself seems to be very generalized, but neglects the complexity of adding temperature into the mix. This research is one step in the right direction towards trying to figure out a way of mitigating those temperature-related yield losses that will likely occur even with rising carbon dioxide concentrations.”

Published in the Journal of Experimental Botany, this study found the modified crop yielded more when subjected to both increased temperature and carbon dioxide levels; however, they found little to no difference between the modified and unmodified crops grown in either increased temperature, increased carbon dioxide, or today’s climate conditions.

This work suggests that we can harness genetic changes to help offset the detrimental effects of rising temperature. In addition, Bernacchi says, it illustrates that we cannot deduce complicated environmental and plant systems to increasing carbon dioxide levels increase yields and increasing temperature reduce yields.

“Experiments under controlled conditions are great to understand concepts and underlying mechanisms,” says first author of the study Iris Köhler, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Bernacchi lab. “But to understand what will happen in a real-world situation, it is crucial to study the responses in a natural setting—and SoyFACE is perfect for this kind of study.”

SoyFACE (Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment) is an innovative facility that emulates future atmospheric conditions to understand the impact on Midwestern crops. These findings are especially remarkable because the crops in this SoyFACE experiment were exposed to the same environmental conditions (i.e. the sun, wind, rain, clouds, etc.) as other Illinois field crops.

“It’s actually a bit of a surprise,” Bernacchi says. “I’ve been doing field research for quite some time, and variability is one of the things that’s an inherent part of field research. Of course, we did see variability in yields from year to year, but the difference between the modified and unmodified plants was remarkably consistent over these three years.”

These modified soybeans are just one part of the equation to meet the demands of 2050. This modification can likely be combined with other modifications—a process called “stacking”—to further improve yields. “When we’re trying to meet our food needs for the future, this specific modification is one of the many tools that we’re going to need to rely upon,” Bernacchi said. “There is a lot of research across the planet that’s looking at different strategies to make improvements, and many of these are not mutually exclusive.”

The paper, “Expression of cyanobacterial FBP/SBPase in soybean prevents yield depression under future climate conditions,” is published by the Journal of Experimental Botany (10.1093/jxb/erw435).

Co-authors also include: Ursula M. Ruiz-Vera, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois; Andy VanLoocke, assistant professor at Iowa State University; Michell Thomey, USDA-ARS Research Plant Physiologist and postdoctoral researcher at Illinois; Tom Clemente, Eugene W. Price Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Stephen Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at Illinois; and Donald Ort, Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology at Illinois.

IFSI continues work with “Big Data” towards food security

Published May 4, 2017

Two recent events built upon the momentum from momentum from last year’s food security symposium that focused on analysis of big data to address food insecurity. These activities capitalize on the combined power of Illinois investigators working in agricultural sciences and data sciences.

Machine Learning: Farm-to-Table

A two-day event in conjunction with the Midwest Big Data Hub, “Machine Learning: Farm-to-Table Workshop,” brought together domain scientists to stimulate new data-driven research and development activity at the intersections of agriculture, bioinformatics, food-energy-water, and food security communities.

“Last year’s food security symposium caught the interest of the Midwest Big Data Hub so this event combined our forces to identify research areas and gaps for people working in the spaces of big data and agriculture. My personal quest was to see that international themes were included,” said Kathy Baylis, associate professor in agricultural and consumer economics and a member of the event’s steering committee.

Novel data analysis facilitated by machine learning, and other big data approaches have the potential to help solve difficult agricultural production, environmental and nutritional challenges, both in the United States and abroad.

“Machine learning can vastly improve predictive models, using both higher data frequency, and greater data ‘depth,’ such as a greater number and range of characteristics, than we can apply in more traditional statistical analyses,” said Baylis.

The event included attendees from other Midwestern universities and industry.  

“Getting these people in the same room is helpful to see how the methods can best be applied,” said Baylis. She added that smaller groups met during the afternoons to define key research areas for moving forward and to begin working on proposal submissions.

“It is really exciting to see the extent of the appetite for facilitating access to novel methods of data collection and use in agriculture and food security,” said Baylis.

The event website is here: https://publish.illinois.edu/machine-learning-farm-to-table-workshop/ and presentations from the event should be posted here soon.  

Data Science in Food, Energy, and Water Summit

A second event during the same week, the "Data Science in Food, Energy, and Water Summit" served to unite researchers on the Illinois campus using big data in the spaces of food, energy, and water.

“This event covered a slightly broader space and served to show us specifically who is already working on what and how we can move best move forward at the University of Illinois,” said Baylis.

The summit was sponsored by the Illinois Data Science Initiative, a new collective of people at Illinois who are passionate about bringing Illinois’ tremendous research tradition and resources together with the power of data science.

Specifically the purpose of this summit was to identify:

  1. Impactful research conducted at the University of Illinois in the intersection of Big Data, Food, Energy, and Water;
  2. Challenges, opportunities and possible collaborations among Illinois faculty, staff, and students working in this area;
  3. Opportunities for engagement with industry, non-government organizations, and government agencies in this area;
  4. Potential roles for a new Institute of Data Analytics in supporting research, education, or engagement programs that facilitate the use of Big Data skills, tools, and techniques in our work.

Researchers from the College of ACES had a strong presence at the summit; its presenters included:

  • German Bollero; Head of the Department of Crop Science;
  • Matt Hudson, Professor, Crop Science
  • David Bullock, Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  • Ben Gramig, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  • Matt Stasiewicz, Assistant Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition
  • Alex Lipka, Assistant Professor, Crop Sciences
  • Luis Rodriguez, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering
  • Jonathan Coppess, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  • Dan Miller, Assistant Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
  • Kaiyu Guan, Assistant Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
  • Ben Crost, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  • Hope Michelson, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  • Craig Gundersen, Professor, Agricultural and Consumer Economics

ACES faculty members Kathy Baylis (ACE), Peter Christensen (ACE), and Matt Hudson (Crop Sciences) serve on the steering committee for the Illinois Data Science Initiative.

Get Involved

Members of the ACES community who are interested in participating in work on big data for food security and the environment should visit this group’s website to register to receive communications: http://idsi.illinois.edu/.

 

Kidwell honored as inaugural Robert A. Easter Chair in the College of ACES

Published May 4, 2017

URBANA, Ill. – Kim Kidwell, a nationally respected scholar of plant breeding and genetics, was honored during an investiture ceremony for the Robert A. Easter Chair in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois on May 3.

Kidwell began her role as the dean of the College of ACES on November 1, 2016. Her leadership style is clearly defined by her dedication to improving student learning; driving sound, innovative research; and cultivating industry partnerships to improve the lives and livelihoods of the residents of Illinois, in support of the land-grant mission of the University of Illinois. She is a proud alumna of ACES where she earned bachelor’s degrees in both genetics and development (1985) and agriculture science (1986). She received her master’s (1989) and Ph.D. (1992) degrees in plant breeding and plant genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

U of I President Timothy Killeen said, “Not only is she back where it all started, leading a world-class college where two undergraduate degrees launched her career as a nationally renowned educator, scholar, and administrator, but she also has come home to a new, extraordinary honor as this great college’s inaugural Robert A. Easter Chair.”

Kidwell plans to honor the legacy of Robert A. Easter by expanding lifeskill enhancement opportunities for people at the University of Illinois through the creation of an ACES Leadership Academy. She plans to bring the lifeskill enhancement portfolio she created at Washington State University to the U of I to augment the arsenal of leadership development work that is already available here.

“I believe that we can be the institution that supports people in acquiring the content skills and the interpersonal skills that are required to achieve personal and professional success,” Kidwell said. “Being smart is not enough to guarantee success in life. Having the self-awareness and self-management skills required to navigate effectively with people is essential if we truly intend to create our best lives. I want people to have the opportunity to learn those skills here.”

Kidwell said that she is honored to be named the Robert A. Easter Chair, recognizing a leader who has impacted the University of Illinois for more than 40 years.

“Bob Easter embodies those characteristics of a leader in a manner that is rarely seen,” Kidwell said. “He is committed to doing the right thing again and again until something positive happens. I am grateful to all who have joined together to create the Robert A. Easter Chair to honor his legacy. It is my sincere hope that I will bring honor to this chair in a way that makes you all proud.”

The Robert A. Easter Endowment Fund recognizes Easter’s outstanding leadership and service. The endowment fund supports a chair to be held by the dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Many generous donors provided gifts to honor Dr. Easter, establish an enduring legacy, and invest in future leadership of the College of ACES.

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