Issue No. 17, Article 1/July 17, 2009
New Illinois Agronomy Handbook Available
After an extended period of preparation, the 24th edition of the Illinois Agronomy Handbook came off the press this week. Here are some questions and answers about the new version:
Q: What's new in this edition?
A: Just about everything. Many sections and even whole chapters from the previous version were essentially scrapped and replaced by new versions. Up to 2000, we revised the handbook every two years, but these revisions were often slight, and parts had not changed, or had changed little, over many years. This is the 11th revision I have been involved in during my career (starting in 1982), and this one was far more thorough than what was done over all 10 revisions that preceded it.
Q: Isn't the previous edition (the 23rd) still okay for most things?
A: No. As an example, there is a whole new chapter on nitrogen that completely replaces the corn-yield-based N recommendation with a system that generates guideline N rates using recent data, and that takes into account changes in N and corn prices. The chapter on insect management is entirely new, and chapters on corn, soybeans, small grains, weed management, and most others are completely revised. The previous edition has never been more out-of-date than it will be this time.
Q: What differences from the previous edition will I notice first?
A: The first thing you'll notice will be the "new and improved" look of the handbook, with redesigned pages and graphics, and full-color printing. This will be the first handbook ever with color photos and graphics. This edition is also 100 pages shorter than its predecessor, mostly as the result of dropping a large number of tables (for example, those listing herbicides for different crops and against different weeds, which are quickly out of date and are available elsewhere) and by focusing instead on principles of crop, soil, and pest management. There is also an index at the back of the book to help you get to the information you want more quickly.
Q: Will the new edition be available on the Web?
A: This is the most common question I've been getting, and unfortunately the answer is no. Making this freely available on the Web would give us no way to recover the costs of producing and printing this publication. The previous edition was on the Web as a PDF file, but that was done with special funding, which we no longer have. That funding, however, also allowed us to develop the online calculators (seed drop, yield estimation, corn replant, etc.) that will continue to operate.
Q: Who should purchase this new edition of the handbook?
A: I'll admit to some bias, but I believe that this is a publication that everyone who works with field crops in Illinois should have.
Q: I already ordered this back in the winter. When will I get it?
A: All back orders have been filled and the books were shipped by July 14, so if your copy isn't already in your hands, it will be soon.
Q: I'm interested. How much does it cost and how do I order it?
A: The new handbook costs $35. You can order it online with a credit card day or night from Pubs Plus at pubsplus.illinois.edu, or you can call Information Technology and Communication Services at 1-800-345-6087 (or 333-2007 if you are local to Urbana-Champaign).--Emerson Nafziger