Tag Archives: Inside the ARECs

Inside the ARECs: Precision agriculture takes off at Kentland Farm    

arecUsually the sound of buzzing on a farm is from the flapping of bees’ wings against one another or the continuous hum of a tractor’s engine.

But these days the advent of precision agriculture and all its high tech accouterments mean that buzzing sound is more likely to be from the propellers of a reconnaissance-gathering drone flying a couple hundred feet above a cornfield and gathering information about crops.

Soon drones and other precision farm equipment could become commonplace and  a boon to the bottomline of producers throughout the commonwealth.

One reason the mechanization of precision agriculture makes producers more profitable is that they can distribute feed, fertilizer, and various inputs with much more accuracy when using precision equipment.

Doug Bunn, a cattle producer from Dublin, Virginia, recently attended a precision agriculture demonstration at Kentland Farm along with 115 other people. He uses precision agriculture machinery on his cattle farming operation.

“We use autosteer on our tractors,” said Bunn. “The automation reduces the amount of chemicals we use because it’s a more precise way of delivering inputs when we use our sprayers on the corn we grow to feed our cattle.”

Bunn uses technology for recordkeeping also.

“I also have apps on my smartphone I use to keep track of my sire and dams, the cattle birth dates, and vaccinations.”

Other equipment that was demonstrated during the event were UAVs such as fixed-wing eBee drones look like large boomerangs and help with assessing crop health.  Using cameras and specialized software a producer can see realtime which crops are stressed and need more water and fertilizer using 3-D structure mapping.

“This event was critical in evaluating what farmers are already doing with precision agriculture and what industry has to offer and where we could go in the future,” said Bobby Grisso, Virginia Cooperative Extension associate director of agriculture and natural resources.  “Farmers are innovative people. As the price of technology continues to go down, we’ll see more producers utilizing these methods to remain at the forefront of the industry.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inside the ARECS: Seafood AREC

Inside the ARECs: Seafood AREC, Spanish publicationThe Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Virginia’s seafood industry is characterized by succulent and diverse fruits de mer. But behind the gastronomic delicacies is also a nimble industry that meets the demands of consumers in not only production, but also safety. Core research and extension programs at the Virginia Seafood AREC focus on seafood safety; seafood quality of wild caught and cultured animals and products; business and marketing support for the commercial and aquaculture industries, engineering, thermal processing, intensive saltwater recirculating aquaculture; and education/outreach for industry and consumers.

The Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center is an important partner in ensuring that seafood is processed safely in the commonwealth. The AREC offers food safety training to employees of commercial seafood processors. The training follows the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points guidelines, recognized through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which are a worldwide standard for commercial food processing. Employee training is critical to make certain that standards are met.

The center also offers a unique service to the industry in Spanish language training, which helps ensure that employees are able to understand the importance of food safety in the processing operations.

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Inside the ARECS: Southwest Virginia

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Southwest Virginia ARECThe Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center sits on 208 acres in Glade Spring, Virginia, and is an important partner in providing beef cattle research for producers.

In this region of the commonwealth, stocker cattle operators and cow-calf producers alike, gain management and marketing insight from programs provided by the AREC.

The center recently conducted a study to test whether or not a certain specialty starter ration would increase weight gain efficiency and be financially beneficial for cattle ranchers to utilize in their stocker calf back-grounding systems — beef production systems that maximize use of pasture and forages from the time calves are weaned until they are placed in a feedlot.

It’s just one initiative the faculty and staff perform as part of a strong program in management systems for beef cattle, including a heifer development program where animals meet the standards set forth by the Virginia Premium Assured Heifer program. Stocker cattle are back-grounded for 45 days to meet Virginia Quality Assured Program standards.

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Inside the ARECs: Eastern Virginia

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

The Eastern Virginia AREC was originally established in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1912 with a research emphasis on forage crops. After the center was moved to Warsaw in 1950, its focus shifted to breeding, variety testing, and cultural practices for corn, small grains, and soybeans.

Today the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center is home base for the soybean breeding project and the center for small grain field research, and it is helping Virginia lead the way in research for burgeoning industries such as the craft beer industry where barley is big money. As the superintendent of the Center, Bob Pitman oversees and manages the operations of the AREC and works closely with several researchers to meet their needs.

The Eastern Virginia AREC is helping to spur the craft beer industry in the commonwealth through small grains research such as barley.

The Eastern Virginia AREC is helping to spur the craft beer industry in the commonwealth through small grains research such as barley.

Carl Griffey, W.G. Wysor Professor of Crop Genetics in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, is one of the professors with an active research program at the Eastern Virginia AREC. He is developing barley lines from local Virginia grains that will have the potential to malt well (sprouting and drying of the grain for use in beer making). Griffey collaborates with faculty from the Department of Food Science and Technology to test which varieties are more suited to malting.

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Inside the ARECs: New tractor yields economic and educational benefits for Kentland Farm

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Industry partnerships are becoming more prevalent in higher education, and agricultural technology students at the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Kentland Farm are experiencing the value of industry partnerships in a big way.

One of the more recent industry collaborations in the college occurred between the college and Hoober Inc., a farming equipment supplier based in Ashland, Virginia. On Oct.13 the company donated a tractor to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to support the college cropping operation at Kentland Farm and learning initiatives in the Agricultural Technology Program.

Ag Tech tractor at Kentland Farm

Pavli Mykerezi, director of Agricultural Technology Program, left, and Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean and director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, look over the new tractor that Hoober Inc. is lending to the college.

The relationship came about because of Ian Watkins, an alumnus of the agricultural technology program, and employee of Hoober Inc. For several years Watkins has been bringing equipment from Ashland and exposing students in the program to precision farming expertise.

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Inside the ARECS: Southwest sheep sale

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Virginia Tech’s Southwest Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Glade Spring recently completed a record-breaking ram sale.

sheep

The sale was the culmination of four years of a forage-based ram lamb evaluation. The program had seen continuing growth with an inaugural year in 2012 yielding strong participation from breeders around the region who consigned more than 60 rams. In 2015, the program grew to 21 producers from eight states participating, consigning 110 rams to the test. Thirty-six of the high performing rams on test were sold at the annual educational field day on Sept. 26. The sale average was $1,222 per head. The high selling ram brought $2,600, and was consigned by Roxanne Newton of Hahira, Georgia. This was the highest sale average to date, topping last year’s record breaking sale average of $875 per head.

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Inside the ARECs: Eastern Shore

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Assistant Professor of Food Science and Technology and Extension Specialist Laura Strawn is located at the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Painter, Virginia, where she focuses on enhanced microbial safety of fruit and vegetable production at both the pre- and post-harvest level.

Laura Strawn explains her research to Virginia Tech President Tim Sands (center) and Associated Dean of Research Saied Mostaghimi (left)

Laura Strawn explains her research to Virginia Tech President Tim Sands (center) and Associate Dean of Research Saied Mostaghimi (left).

A typical day for Strawn includes a wide variety of research-related and outreach and Extension responsibilities. Grant writing and catching up with progress reports are tempered with traveling to interact with stakeholders, or providing safety trainings.

In November 2015, the Fresh Produce Food Safety Team with whom Strawn collaborates, is offering a workshop entitled,Packinghouse Best Practices: A Hands-on Workshop Using a Risk-based Framework to Increase Fresh Produce Food Safety.” Topics will include the difference between cleaning and sanitizing; most commonly used sanitizing agents; how to calculate a target ppm for sanitizing agents; factors that impact sanitizing effectiveness; monitoring a sanitizer within the line or other application (i.e. wash basin); keeping track of monitoring steps; and what is meant by a clean break in a packinghouse.

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Inside the ARECS: Kentland Farm

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Kentland Farm’s diverse research initiatives were on display during the New River Valley Agriculture Field Day on Aug. 13. Current research projects showcased at the farm included programs that focus on pest and weed management, fescue seed head suppression, and the use of unmanned aircraft in agricultural applications.

Kentland Farm Field Day

The day consisted of a number of stops including the Dining Services Gardens, the new Dairy Science Complex, and a tour of the area’s manor house and other early farm buildings which was led by Sam Cook, the director of American Indian Studies, and Tom Klatka, an archaeologist from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

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Inside the ARECS — Summer AREC tour

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Each year new faculty and others members of the university community are invited to participate in a two-day tour of selected Agricultural Research and Extension Centers.

This year the tour featured stops at the Southern Piedmont AREC in Blackstone, the Hampton Roads AREC in Virginia Beach, and the Tidewater AREC in Suffolk. Participants included new faculty, CALS administrative personnel, library and facilities representatives, and a guest from the Farm Bureau. The tour was intended to introduce the AREC system to individuals both inside Virginia Tech and external to the university, help new faculty to learn about off-campus facilities and resources available to them, and meet potential collaborators among AREC faculty and staff. Continue reading

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Inside the ARECs — President Sands tours Hampton Roads

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

President Sands at HRAREC

President Sands, center, visits faculty and staff at Hampton Roads AREC.

Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands recently visited the Hampton Roads AREC where he took a tour of the facility and got a chance to meet with faculty, staff and students who are working at the center. Just a few months ago, Sands had taken the opportunity to visit the Eastern Shore AREC.

Director Pete Schultz gave President Sands a tour of the building and told him of the evolution of the center from the Virginia Truck Experimental Station in 1907 to the modern research and Extension facility it is now. President Sands toured the lab of Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Jim Owen, who spoke about his work with the nursery industry. President Sands then visited with Chuan Hong, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, who spoke about his multistate project focusing on pathogen control in irrigation water being used in nurseries and also his research on the emerging boxwood blight which is currently threatening the eastern nursery industry. Horticulture Research Associate Laurie Fox then gave President Sands a tour of the gardens around the AREC, which were just starting to bloom. Continue reading

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