CROP DUSTING

With National Aviation Day quickly approaching I figured I would touch base on a subject that does not get brought up all too often, aerial application. You might know of it as “crop dusting,” which involves spraying crops with fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides from an agricultural aircraft. The specific spreading of fertilizer is also known as aerial topdressing. These agricultural aircrafts are often purpose-built, though many have been converted from existing airframes. Helicopters are sometimes used, and some aircraft serve double duty as water bombers in areas prone to wildfires.

(Want to know more about these fertilizers and pesticides? CLICK HERE)

crop dustingThe first known aerial application of agricultural materials was by John Chaytor, who in 1906 spread seed over a swamped valley floor in Wairoa, New Zealand, using a hot air balloon with mobile tethers. Aerial sowing of seed has continued on a small scale. The first known use of a heavier-than-air machine occurred on 3 August 1921. Crop dusting was developed under the joint efforts of the U.S. Agriculture Department, and the U.S. Army Signal Corps’s research station at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio. Aerial topdressing, the spread of fertilizers, was developed in New Zealand in the 1940s by members of the Ministry of Public Works and RNZAF, of which unofficial experiments by individuals within the government led to funded research. This exploration eventually led to several privateers and other companies to offer the service we know today as crop dusting.

If you have ever seen a crop dusting pilot performing their acrobats, you know it can be quite mesmerizing. However, these maneuvers are very dangerous and this career is said to be one of the most precarious of them all. One of the dangers for the pilot includes encountering obstacles. The plane flies low, so the pilot must be very careful not to run into electrical wires and fences. He/She is flying an aircraft close to the ground at high speeds while paying close attention to his instruments, keeping track of the chemicals that he is spraying and trying not to run into anything in the process. Many crop dusting pilots have crashed in an emergency or forced landing in a country field.

Nick Rumbold
ICMB Social Media Intern

Check out this amazing footage one crop duster captured!

JAPANESE IN ILLINOIS

Japanese trade team

A group of Japanese government officials visited the Illinois Corn office today, wanting to learn more about the 2013 crop, prices, quality, and more. The most exciting conversation though occurred over issues that we share with them, namely that they have a vocal group within their country that are concerned about GMO crops and that they also are dealing with the graying of farmers and the lack of young men and women who want to enter the industry.

2013 NORMAL CORNBELTERS SEASON COMING TO AN END

normal cornbelters logoIt is hard to believe the 2013 Normal CornBelters season will be wrapping up soon.  Following their longest road trip of the season, the team begins a three-game home stand at The Corn Crib tonight against the Schaumburg Boomers at 7 p.m.  Including tonight’s game, there are only 18 regular season home games remaining this season.

The team currently has a 35-34 record.  They are six and a half games behind the division leading Gateway Grizzlies in the Frontier League West Division, but only four games back of a wild card playoff berth.  While they have improved from last season’s 29 wins, there is still work to be done in their remaining 27 games.  They are looking to finish the season strong and earn our first-ever playoff berth.

Case IH CombineWith the team on the road for nine of the past ten days, our front office staff continued with business as usual at the ballpark.  On my way into the administrative office earlier this week, I viewed a family taking photographs next to the Case IH combine outside the Barker, Buick, GMC, Cadillac Main Gate (a common occurrence).  It reminded me of the unique and beneficial theme we have had since our inaugural season in 2010.

Of all the 50 states, only Iowa planted more acres of corn than Illinois in 2012.  With Normal being located in the heart of Central Illinois (inside the “Corn Belt”), corn production is essential to our way of life.  It only makes sense we call ourselves the CornBelters, and we play our games at The Corn Crib.  It makes even more sense we partner with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) to help educate our fans on corn production in our home state.

Among other things, visitors to the ballpark cannot miss the corn planted outside and inside The Corn Crib, the Case IH combines at both gates, the corn signage throughout the ballpark and the corn facts shared during CornBelters games.  Plus, our fans can even purchase $1 ears of roasted corn throughout our games!  Without question, we have one of the most unique themes in all of professional sports.  More importantly, it is a win, win for everyone involved (Illinois corn farmers, ICMB, our fans and us)!

If you have yet to catch a CornBelters game this season, there is no better time to do so!  As usual, we have some fantastic promotions scheduled for this home stand…

Wednesday, August 7 – “Dog Night / Meijer Wednesday / Web Wednesday

Thursday, August 8 – “Miller Thirst Quenching Thursday

Friday, August 9 – “CEFCU Fireworks Friday / Facebook Friday / Salute to Armed Forces

To purchase tickets, simply visit the Mid-Illini Credit Union Box Office at The Corn Crib, or call (309) 454-2255 (BALL), during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. / Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.).  You can also purchase tickets on-line anytime at:  https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/team.asp?SponsorID=4098#.UbjDC_lQFid.

kylekregerKyle Kruger
Normal CornBelters

GULF HYPOXIA ZONE IS SMALLER THAN PREDICTED

Every summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration measures and releases information about the size of the hypoxia zone* in the Gulf of Mexico.  Because of the drought in 2012, because all the nutrients that were applied went unused as the crops failed to grow, and because of the massive rainfall some of the Midwest experienced this spring, NOAA predicted the zone to be at least 20 percent larger in 2013.

2013 hypoxizWe were all surprised to hear that the zone is not nearly that large.  In fact, the zone is very nearly the average size.

This means that although some would like to believe that we have nutrient runoff and the causes of hypoxia zones down to an exact science, the fact that we can’t accurately predict a significant increase or decrease means that there’s a lot we still don’t know.

That is exactly why the Council on Best Management Practices, of which IL Corn and several other agri-business and associations are members, is working to build more science and more data regarding hypoxia and nutrient runoff.  Very little scientific data about agriculture’s contribution to the problem exists.

Plan to tune in every Tuesday this month on Corn Corps as we explore more about the water quality issues facing Illinois farmers and how farmers really are trying their best to manage and solve the problems facing those of us that drink water.

phil thorntonPhil Thornton
ICGA/ICMB Value Added Director

*Hypoxia zones are “dead zones” which are devoid of life.  This occurs because nutrients make their way into the water system, encourage the increasing growth of small microorganisms, and then deoxygenate the water as all these small organisms die and decompose.  As large sections of water become oxygen-free, fish and other wildlife can’t live causing fish die-offs and serious impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries. 

Many environmentalists would like to believe that agriculture is a substantial contributor to nutrient runoff and hypoxia zones.  However, to date, no solid research has been done on what agriculture’s contribution to this problem really is.  If agriculture has a significant impact, farmers are already poised to change their practices and do their best to minimize runoff.  If other industries are more at fault than currently assumed, everyone must step up to the plate to minimize nutrient runoff problems.

FARMING & WATER QUALITY

It’s finally here! The month you have all been waiting for: Water Quality Month. Let’s celebrate our corn farmers for all of the things they do to improve the water quality on their farms, shall we?

Oftentimes, technology on the farm seems to raise concerns about the integrity of how our food is being grown. But in reality, technology helps farmers to do their job more efficiently and with more precision! This precision plays a huge role in a farmer’s ability to raise crops without having a negative impact on the environment.

One example of this is GPS and soil mapping technology. This technology has enabled farmers to apply the exact amount of fertilizer to specific areas of their field as needed. This way, over application is avoided. Less over application of nutrients means less nutrient runoff into waterways and streams. Here, some farmers from Illinois explain this technology to Chicago moms:

Stay tuned to learn more about farming and water quality!

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant