News

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Cooperative Extension
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University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead and other university administrators celebrated the opening of the 2016 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo by visiting the opening day of the three-day trade show Oct. 18 in Moultrie. 

This is the fourth consecutive year Morehead has taken part in the Expo festivities since becoming president of UGA in 2013. As he has in previous years, Morehead toured the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences building at Spence Field where he spoke with student ambassadors and visited with key agricultural leaders in Georgia.

"I always enjoy returning to South Georgia for this exciting event and seeing firsthand the critical role that the University of Georgia plays in supporting the state of Georgia's agriculture industry," Morehead said. "Coming to Sunbelt is a highlight of mine every year, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to show support for our wonderful College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences."

  • Research
  • Turfgrass and Weed Science
  • Griffin Campus
  • Crop and Soil Sciences
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David Jesperson poses with his turfgrass research plots

Like most college students, David Jespersen was unsure of what he wanted to study. At first, he was intrigued by psychology, but the required biology and science classes drew him to plant sciences. As a result, he's now the newest member of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' turfgrass research team.

"Something about the plant sciences grabbed my interest as being practical and underappreciated," said Jespersen, who now conducts research on the UGA campus in Griffin.

Jespersen earned a doctorate in plant biology with an emphasis in turfgrass physiology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

A native of New Jersey, Jespersen is adjusting to life in the South and the relentlessly intense heat of Georgia summers.

"Summers (in New Jersey) are kind of hot. It hits the 90s (degrees Fahrenheit) and there's an occasional heat wave hitting 100 (F)," he said, just a few days after sharing his research results in humid, near-100-degree weather at the outdoor UGA Turfgrass Field Day, a research event held biennially in August.

He is also adjusting to working on a smaller extended university campus.

"Everyone on the Griffin campus is very friendly, but it's not as lively as a large campus," he said. "It's definitely a lot easier not to get distracted and to focus on research."

  • STEM
  • Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
  • Griffin Campus
  • Microbiology
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Joshua Hamilton demonstrating an experiment to four high school students

A group of Griffin High School biology students visited the University of Georgia Griffin Campus last week to conduct a science experiment under the direction of college students. The UGA students were fulfilling their service learning component of their “Basic Skills in the Laboratory” class, taught by Margie Paz, a senior lecturer in the microbiology department of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

“Participating in this service-learning activity helped the college students meet the requirement of UGA’s new experiential learning initiative, which began this semester. Every UGA undergraduate student must now participate in a hands-on, learning opportunity outside of the classroom.

The GHS students who participated in the experiment are all currently enrolled in biology classes and were selected for the experience by their teachers. The high school students performed a genetic engineering experiment using green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the supervision of the UGA Griffin students. The experiment helped the GHS students understand the scientific process involved in the GFP gene’s expression, Paz said.

  • Griffin Campus
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UGA-Griffin's Uga statue

Lew Hunnicutt hit the ground running 11 months ago when he was named the new assistant provost and campus director of the University of Georgia Griffin Campus. One of his top priorities is to clear up the misconception that the campus is not really a part of UGA. “We ARE the University of Georgia. We just happen to be located in Griffin,” said Hunnicutt.

On one of his first visits to Athens, Hunnicutt noticed the plethora of fiberglass Uga bulldog mascots located around town. He quickly learned that the statues were originally part of a fundraiser for charities led by the Athens-Oconee Junior Women’s Club. More than 35 larger-than-life “Dawgs” adorned the downtown corridor of the Classic City for 10 years before being auctioned off to benefit AIDS research.

Hunnicutt quickly set in motion plans for the Griffin Campus to have its first Uga Bulldog mascot statue. The statue came painted solid white, but Greg Huber, training coordinator in the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, donated his time to transform it into a traditionally painted Uga.

Southern Crescent Technical College Automotive Collision Instructor Robert Hagen assisted with the first Bulldog statue by adding the final touch — automotive clear coating to help Uga survive the outdoors. “It was great to see how the Southern Crescent students reacted to the statue,” Huber said. “They all gathered around and took each other’s pictures with it. It was already doing its job.”

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Entomology
  • Research
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Growth chamber with various stages of fall armyworms

Georgia farmers are never surprised to see fall armyworms munching on their precious corn, sorghum and forage hay crops. They just hope for a low number of armyworms. This year’s population of the tiny destroyers, described as an “Armageddon-type outbreak” by University of Georgia entomologist David Buntin, is far from low.

A small grains pest expert with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Buntin spends his days tracking insects that can destroy Georgia row crops and working to determine the best methods of controlling them and establishing pesticide thresholds, or the number of insects that need to be present before a farmer should apply a pesticide.

“This year, the fall armyworms are way, way above the treatment threshold. They are here in much, much higher numbers,” he said. “As of the end of August, almost every pasture in central and north Georgia has been sprayed at least once and, for many of them, twice.”

Each year, the worms migrate up from the Caribbean and Florida. This year, they showed up early in corn and sorghum fields. Now they are in pastures earlier than normal.

  • Graduate School
  • J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development
  • College of Engineering
  • Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Archway Partnership
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Rachael Hart Earls studying with other graduate students

Two years after she received her bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia, Rachael Hart Earls was excited to return to her alma mater to begin her doctoral studies. But as she prepared for life in a laboratory as a neuroscientist, she worried that she would feel isolated and wondered if there was a way to create synergies between her academic goals and her desire to work with people outside of the lab.

She found the answer in Graduate Scholars LEAD (Leadership, Engagement and Development), a program launched this summer by the Graduate School. Funded by a $495,000 Innovations in Graduate Education grant from the National Science Foundation, the 
program fosters the development of critical thinking skills, teamwork, communication and leadership. 

"I was sold right away," Earls said of the program, which includes an eight-week summer academy facilitated by faculty from the J. W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, College of Engineering, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and College of Veterinary Medicine. It also includes a follow-up grand challenges course, through which students are working this fall to design a meaningful solution for a community in need.

  • Cooperative Extension
  • Horticulture
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'Raspberry Profusion,' a cultivar that blooms heavily from May to September

Fall is the perfect time to admire blooming shrubs and trees. In many areas of the state, people take great pride in adorning their landscape with spectacular shrubs that exhibit color, shape and texture.

Some people would love to have a better-looking landscape, but are fearful of picking out the proper plants. By making careful selections, you can enhance your landscape and add showstoppers that create curb appeal.

It is essential to first take a good inventory of your existing landscape. Educate yourself on your landscape’s sunlight exposure, slope, drainage and soil type. All of these factors can have a huge effect on what you can successively grow. By nature, some plants prefer shade, while others thrive in full sun. Some plants adapt to either location. Some plants prefer moist environments, while others must have impeccable drainage to survive.

It is also important to pay attention to the mature size of the plants. There is nothing worse than placing a small, 1-gallon container plant in an area where there is no room for expansion, especially if the shrub will ultimately grow to a mature height and spread of 15 to 20 feet.

  • Cooperative Extension
  • Horticulture
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Crimson clover and rye

If you decide not to plant a fall garden, consider planting a cover crop to give your garden a neat appearance while helping to protect the soil from erosion.

Cover crops also add rich, organic nutrients when they are tilled in the spring. A combination cover crop of a small grain (wheat, rye or oats) mixed with a legume (clover or Austrian winter peas) works well. The small grain serves as a nurse and protects the slower germinating clover or peas.

Clover is a very small seed, so mixed with wheat, it takes a pound or less to cover the average garden. Clover must be inoculated if it is not inoculated when you buy it. Inoculation covers the seed in black, powdered bacteria that helps digest the seed coat and increases germination.

The best way to inoculate seed is to combine the seed and a bag of inoculant in a small bucket with a little soft drink. Hand-mix the seed, inoculant and soft drink so that the seed is thoroughly combined with the black powder and soft drink. Use just enough soft drink to help the bacteria stick to the seed. Next, mix in a few pounds of small grain, such as wheat, and spread the mixture with a hand spreader on a tilled garden.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Research
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Esther van der Knaap inspects a plant in a UGA greenhouse

Researchers at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences broke records in fiscal year 2016 with $69 million in external funding to fuel college projects.

From research plots across Georgia to state-of-the-art laboratories in Athens, Tifton and Griffin, CAES faculty members use this funding for research to support Georgia’s $74.3 billion agricultural industry and improve the food security and health of people around the world.

“This (achievement) was only possible because of the extraordinary efforts of our dedicated faculty, staff and graduate students,” said Sam Pardue, dean and director of CAES. “We’re proud of their creativity, their hard work and their commitment to identifying solutions to the challenges that face Georgia, our nation and the world.”

CAES’s external research funding totals helped contribute to a record-breaking year for research funding across the university.

In fiscal year 2016, research expenditures at UGA increased by 14 percent to reach $175.3 million. UGA's dramatic increase in fiscal year 2016 comes on the heels of a 7 percent increase in fiscal year 2015 for a 21 percent rise over the past two years.

  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Research
  • Turfgrass and Weed Science
  • Griffin Campus
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Clint Waltz speaks to a group at Turfgrass Research Field Day

More than 800 people braved the hot August temperatures for a firsthand glimpse of the latest research by University of Georgia scientists at the Turfgrass Research Field Day held Thursday, Aug. 4, on the UGA campus in Griffin, Georgia.

“UGA serves as the research and education arm for the green industry in this state,” said Clint Waltz, UGA Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist and one of the organizers of the field day event. “This field day keeps those in the green industry current and provides the continued education they need to remain profitable and able to provide the best quality products for golf courses, commercial lawns, homeowners’ lawns, parks, recreational sports fields and professional sports fields.”

In the morning, green industry professionals rotated through a series of 12-minute talks by scientists from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Topics included the latest research on turfgrass weed management, cultivar development and the application of pesticides while protecting pollinating insects.

Self-guided tours in the afternoon included a demonstration on proper pesticide storage and handling, advice on the best fungicides for turfgrass disease control and sessions led by CAES turfgrass graduate students.