The U.S.-German Forum on the Future of Agriculture, hosted by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), kicked off its first day in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois on June 28th, 2023, as part of this exciting transatlantic dialogue project. Throughout the day, participants delved into a diverse range of topics, covering the Farm Bill, agricultural education, precision agriculture, and agrivoltaic systems.

To begin the day, a roundtable discussion was held, featuring prominent figures such as Senator Chapin Rose, Senator Paul Faraci, and Molly Hammond, Illinois Deputy State Director for Rural Development at USDA Rural Development. The University of Illinois College of ACES expertly hosted this insightful session.

Over the course of the day, participants were treated to a tour of Solar Farm 2.0, located at the university’s South Farms. This tour was made possible through a collaboration between UIUC and SolSystems, offering a unique opportunity for attendees. The esteemed researchers from the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) showcased their groundbreaking work in the field of agrivoltaic systems (SCAPES) and the latest advancements in robotics for farming (iCOVER).

Guided by the knowledgeable experts Mike Larson and Greg Landes, and accompanied by SCAPES researchers, the visitors gained insight into the latest developments in these cutting-edge areas. They were encouraged to engage in insightful discussions and had their questions thoughtfully answered.

Afterwards, the group proceeded to the Energy Farm, which also serves as a site for SCAPES. Here, Dennis Bowman led another informative tour, which included details about the iCOVER project. iCOVER involves deploying robots to aid in planting cover crops.

The day concluded with dinner at the Silvercreek greenhouse, featuring the esteemed presence of Astrid Jakobs de Padua, Minister Counselor for Food and Agriculture at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, D.C. Her insights on the transatlantic relationship with agriculture added to the enriching experience.

The participants eagerly look forward to further learning, connecting, and exploring in the upcoming days of the program. View a video summary of the event here >>>