The corn belt

I’ve travelled about three hours south of Chicago to a place called Champaign, Illinois. Part of the United State’s corn belt, the countryside of Illinois is very flat, with a perfect mixture of sunshine and rain to be able to grow corn exceedingly well. Apparently the saying goes that it should be knee-high by the fourth of July. This stuff has managed another four feet on top of that:

Champaign is home to the University of Illinois and about 40,000 students from around the world. It’s a huge campus with a variety of faculties, including a department of agriculture which has the longest-running cropping experiments in America:

Crop trialsUOI crop trials
It’s not quite to Rothemsted standards, but it’s impressive to think these trial plots have survived all that time despite being right next to the halls of residents and tipsy students. I imagine students in the UK would find it hilariously funny to try making crop circles after a few pints of snake bite.

The plots are taken seriously by the university too – rather than move them to make way for additional faculties, new buildings have been built below ground to ensure the crops aren’t disturbed and remain in full sunlight:

Underground library
Trial plots aside, I’m in Champaign to visit Dr Jim Evans, who seems to be the king of agricultural communications in the US. He used to be a journalist but spent the last few decades teaching the future farm journalists of the world how to write about the industry, as well as researching the ways media communicate about farming all over the world. It’s amazing to think farming communications is given so much credence as a subject to study over here, I don’t know of anything similar in either our ag colleges or mainstream universities.

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2 Responses to “The corn belt”

  1. Mike

    Are you spelling Rothamsted ‘Rothemsted’ just to wind ‘Gob of the Wash’ and me up?! ;)

  2. Caroline Stocks

    Yep. Is it working? :)