Located in St. Clair County, the Henry White Farm was bequeathed to the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 1985. The farm serves as an outdoor laboratory for research into sustainable agriculture, a system of farming that emphasizes profitability and natural resource protection. In addition to research plots, the farm's 94 acres contain wetlands, evergreen and deciduous groves, restored prairie and wildlife habitat. The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service provides leadership and technical support for outreach and education projects.
Sixty-five of the farm's 94 acres are devoted to the cultivation of crops, mainly corn and soybeans. Farming provides research opportunities and revenue to offset operating expenses. Research spans a variety of topics. Cover crop trials help determine the planting cycle that best helps the land recycle nutrients. Finding optimum application levels that balance environmental concerns and profitability is the goal of herbicide and nitrogen rate studies. The focus of comparisons between no-till and conservation tillage systems is expanding beyond production and profitability into other areas, including extent of soil compaction. The Department has a cooperative agreement with Monsanto to conduct research trials on the farm.
Prairie plants, such as Black-Eyed Susan, Rattlesnake Master, Alumroot and Blazing Star, are interspersed with several kinds of grass, including Big and Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Side-Oats Grama and Switch Grass, on 4.3 acres of restored prairie. This area offers visitors a glimpse into Illinois' past and provides habitat for wildlife.
Three wetlands impoundments, encompassing 6.3 acres, support fish, amphibians and a variety of plants. A dock extends over the largest impoundment, so that plant and animal life at various depths may be observed. Research into the growth and reproductive rates of fish may assist aquaculture experts in estimating the length of time needed to achieve optimum populations.
Planted in 1994, the 4.4-acre deciduous woods contain Oak, Maple, Pecan, Dogwood and other species of trees and shrubs. White Pine, Spruce and other evergreens grow in the 1.1-acre evergreen grove. As the wooded areas mature, they offer researchers a unique opportunity to observe the natural succession of plant and animal life.
Guided tours are available for school groups and other organizations. Please make reservations by calling (217) 782-6297 at least two weeks in advance. Individual visitors are also advised to call ahead to ensure volunteer guides are available.
Informational presentations include field days periodically held at the farm.
Educational packets feature fun activities to teach children about agriculture, ecology and wildlife.
The observation trail leads visitors through the wetlands, prairie and woodlands areas.
Soil and water conservation methods, such as sediment basins, tile inlets, cover crops and conservation tillage systems, are used on the farm.
The wetlands observation dock allows visitors to observe plant and animal life at different depths.
Study stations along the bank offer youth-oriented educational activities.
Planning a visit to the Henry White Farm?
The farm features an Agri-science Learning Center constructed in 2000/2001 which is available for use during on-site visits. The farm is located four miles southwest of Belleville on Illinois Route 158.
Vehicles are permitted only on the entrance lane and parking area.
Adults must accompany minors and provide adequate supervision. Weather may make conditions unfavorable for outdoor educational opportunities.
Please call ahead schedule as visit and make sure all areas of the farm are accessible.
To protect wildlife nests, pets are prohibited.
For More Information
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Land and Water Resources
P.O. Box 19281
Springfield, IL 62794-9281