The Illinois “Spray School”

Beginning in 1949, a conference was organized by faculty and staff from several departments at the University of Illinois to provide clientele and stakeholders with the latest pest management research and recommendations.  The conference was brought into existence by Dr. H.B. “Pete” Petty, the first extension entomologist with the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Illinois, to meet the educational needs of Illinois pest management practitioners.  From its inception in 1949 through 1986, the conference was known as the Illinois Custom Spray Operators’ Training School (often referred to as Spray School), but was renamed as the Illinois Agricultural Pesticides Conference in 1987, and renamed again as the Illinois Crop Protection Technology Conference in 1999.  Speakers at this conference presented current research and recommendations for management of weeds, insects, and diseases for a variety (depending on the era) of Illinois crops.  The conference represents a 60-year history of pests and pest management in Illinois cropping systems.

Perhaps unknown to some, the history of the conference was recorded in an annual conference proceedings. Through the efforts of Professors emeriti Kevin Steffey and Michael Gray, these proceedings now can be accessed electronically at:

https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/89472/browse

I invite everyone to take a few moments and browse the history of Illinois agriculture chronicled in these proceedings.  Don’t be surprised to find some of the first references to pest management principles that we now routinely teach in academic classes and extension meetings.  Enjoy!