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.

ILLINOIS FARM COUPLES: KENT AND SARA KLEINSCHMIDT

Illinois farm couples, farmers, loveKent and Sara Kleinschmidt were high school sweethearts.  They started dating in the spring of 1970 and got married on July 13, 1974.  They have two grown sons, two lovely daughters in law, and four grandchildren.  Both sons continue a career in agriculture, with one still living on the farm and helping Kent out as the need arises.

Kent and Sara enjoy their family and family activities, traveling together, and the life they have built on the farm.

Illinois farm family

ILLINOIS FARM COUPLES: DAVE AND JILL CAIN

They say February is the season for love … and we’re celebrating by giving you a glimpse of five Illinois farm couples throughout the week!  These couples practice their love for each other and the land every day on their farms.  Get to know them and the work they love to do!

illinois farm weddings, corn, family

Jill and Dave Cain were married on August 25, 2012.  Their newlywed life has been interesting as the first year of their marriage they lived through a historic drought that caused many farm families to have to leave the farm!

Jill farms with her dad and works for BASF while Dave works for his family trucking company.  They live only a few miles from both of their parents and they enjoy all the time they get to spend with their families.  Right now, they are adding more suffering to their plate with a house renovation project, but they look forward to a nicer home with enough room for them to start a family.

In the past, Jill has been active with the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the Champaign County Farm Bureau, but for now she is content to put her time into the farm and her home with her new husband at her side.

ILLINOIS FARM COUPLES: RICHARD AND JANICE GATES

They say February is the season for love … and we’re celebrating by giving you a glimpse of five Illinois farm couples throughout the week!  These couples practice their love for each other and the land every day on their farms.  Get to know them and the work they love to do!

50 years ago, vintage wedding dress, 1963

Richard and Janice Gates will celebrated 50 years together on February 10. They met at a District Youth meeting while Juniors in High School and were married 4 years later. Richard spent his life farming with his father (and later with his son) and Janice’s career was as an employee with the US Department of Agriculture local office. In the past 50 years, they have enjoyed their three children and many grandchildren.

tourism, travel, vacation
Richard and Janice in Ireland in 2012.

As the Gates were raising their family, they all worked on the farm. Janice says that her daughters were always great at cultivating soybeans and their son joined the farm when he became an adult. The Gates like to travel and enjoyed a vacation to Ireland in 2012. They are active in the church, Farm Bureau, Kiwanis Club and Illinois Corn Growers Association.