Another year of planting wrapped up for most Illinois farmers during the first week of May. From frost issues in April, hail damage in May, and keeping up with emergence issues, there hasn’t been a dull moment. Our new Online Crop Report on has been pushing out information from across the state highlighting field and crop conditions. The Crop Report tool, paired with updates to agronomic information on ILSoyAdvisor, has been buzzing with resources on early pest concerns, herbicide considerations, cover crop notes and more. Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) agronomists have been in the field conducting stand counts, evaluating damage, and starting to track progress for the year.

Early planting dates fell around April 11. For some, soybeans were in first and completed before corn went in the ground. Select fields of early April soybeans had frost issues appear on cotyledons and ISA Outreach Agronomist Stephanie Porter posted what identifying factors and management decisions could be made at the time.

As the team has grown at ISA, the Agronomy Outreach team, Stephanie Porter, CCA, and Kelsey Litchfield, have both made huge impacts on our ILSoyAdvisor platform. We use ILSoyAdvisor social media channels as a main driver to update on research findings, timely field issues, and what activities are occurring across the state. Our social media also allows for interaction with farmers and gives us an opportunity to capture immediate issues. As we continue to expand the ISA agronomic network, we want to provide farmers with a trusted, non-biased, third-party resource to understand data and programing available. For each of us on the ISA Agronomy team, it is an honor to hold a position where our sole job is to inform and educate. We work with incredibly talented researchers and agronomists whose main goal is to understand soybean systems and what it means to grow a better bean. Outreach has been an avenue that will continue to grow with our own ISA-led field trials, summer field days and agronomic services.

It’s a strategic priority of the ISA Agronomy team to understand the ever-changing space within the carbon and ecosystem markets and USDA Climate Smart initiatives. We each bring our own past experiences and expertise to address the needs of Illinois farmers. Some of us are heavily involved within the management space of learning from trials and farms across the state, others are growing expertise around cover crops, reduced tillage, nutrient management and finding tools that are needed to build field and economic resiliency. Other team members are focused on what research is needed by working with scientists across the state to better understand the science behind carbon, soil health and water quality. One of our team leaders in this space, Agronomic Programs Manager Megan Miller, is heavily involved in understanding the programs in the State of Illinois, what opportunities they provide as well as what to watch out for. Within this issue, Megan details the Carbon & Data Guidebook covering the basics of these emerging carbon and ecosystem markets that lay the foundation for what key terms and conditions farmers should know. Our number one goal isn’t our own needs for enrollment of acres or a cost-share program; we truly are wanting to provide unbiased information to help farmers make informed decisions. We see the value of best management practices beyond the market space and cost-shares. Having worked with farmers on these systems for years, finding what has improved field production and protected resources is an amazing tool for farmers to utilize. The ISA Agronomy team will continue to advocate for farmers, push for better programing, provide guidance, find opportunities, challenge leaders, and above all, educate.

You’ll find within this issue the many areas that the ISA agronomy team will be working over the 2023 growing season. Investigating integrated pest management concerns like Soybean Cyst Nematode and weed control issues, and aligning university expertise with Illinois farmers is the focus for our Research Agronomist Jennifer Jones. Jennifer ensures checkoff-funded research is timely, practical, and easily accessed on The ISA Agronomy team has started a network of trial sites to build a data set around soybean systems, digging into what soil testing, regional information, rotation economics, applied practices, and yield responses to management to provide farmers with agronomic knowledge on their own farms. Agronomic Program Coordinator Deanna Burkhart leads our farmer relations and management collection processes. In the development of our research trials, we have not only external experts to collaborate with but our own experiences with soil health trials, industry studies, plant breeding trialing and many more areas that we are building to keep the quality of data at the forefront. We are excited to house a space for unbiased, agronomic information.

Our team will be here, there, and everywhere this summer either at conferences, field days, or walking field rows. Our time and efforts are in the service of providing agronomic research and education that create opportunities for Illinois soybean farmers to increase on-farm profitability and manage crop production risks. Have a safe growing season and make sure to find us in a field near you!

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About the Author: Abigail Peterson

Abigail Peterson is the Director of Agronomy and a Certified Crop Adviser for the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA). She earned a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from Iowa State University in Ames, IA, where she also participated in a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Ambassador Program, Soil and Water Conservation Club, and an Agriculture Study Abroad Program. In her former role as Field Manager for the Soil Health Partnership, funded by the National Corn Growers Association, Peterson developed soil health transition plans, guided agronomic decision-making with cover crop applications to conventional systems, enrolled participants in field trials, and coordinated with multiple state organizations. She has experience conducting field scouting, coordinating soil sampling processes, collecting economic information, and providing outreach to farmer and non-farmer audiences. Peterson helps guide ISA’s conservation efforts, and aids in the development and implementation of conservation agricultural research and outreach programs. She also helps lead the demonstration and adoption of conservation agriculture practices to Illinois’ 43,000 soybean farmers.

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