Griffin Campus

UGA plays pivotal role in food safety

Posted on
Friday, June 11, 2021

World Food Safety Day is celebrated annually on June 7. Established in 2018 through a U.N. General Assembly resolution, the day seeks to bring awareness to foodborne risks and “to celebrate the myriad benefits of safe food,” according to the U.N.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually in the U.S. That means that roughly 1 in 6 Americans will contract a foodborne illness this year, and these illnesses are spread through common foods such as produce, meat, fish, dairy and poultry. 

Globally, the impact is more significant, with children under the age of 5 and people living in low-income countries hit hardest. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 600 million people contract foodborne illnesses annually, and of those, 420,000 will die. Yet the organization fears that the actual numbers are much higher, as there are places in the world where surveillance data for foodborne illnesses are not available. 

The CDC says that most of these illnesses are caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites that are transmitted to humans through the food they consume. This is why food safety is a vital component of the entire agricultural production system and is critical to ensuring food security.

Computer software helps solve what-if questions in agriculture

Posted on
Thursday, June 10, 2021

Anyone familiar with agriculture knows that a successful harvest largely relies on environmental factors. An especially hot summer with no rain in sight or poor soil quality can cause as many problems as a late cold snap right in the middle of planting season. Often farmers must rely on trial and error to get the best results. But for agricultural scientists, the guessing game can be reduced thanks to a computer software program called Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT).

Created by a team of researchers from the universities of Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Guelph and Michigan State University in partnership with the International Fertilizer Development Center, DSSAT is designed to better understand agricultural systems and environmental influences to make predictions that give farmers options for their crops. The current version — version 4.7.5 — can model growth, yield, irrigation, and fertilization requirements for 42 different crops, as well as regional environmental impact. DSSAT has been used by more than 16,500 researchers, educators, consultants, extension agents, growers in more than 174 countries worldwide.

Filed under:

UGA Weather Network celebrates 30 years of service to agriculture in Georgia

Posted on
Thursday, June 3, 2021

On June 1, 1991, the first agricultural weather station operated by the University of Georgia began transmitting data from Griffin, Georgia. Since then, the UGA Weather Network has grown to include 87 stations scattered across the state, providing weather data to a variety of users. On June 1 this year, this 30-year record of continuous weather data makes the UGA Weather Network one of the oldest state weather networks in the country.

The network, originally known as the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, was the brainchild of Gerrit Hoogenboom, an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the UGA College of Engineering. He placed the first four stations at UGA facilities around the state  — in Griffin, Tifton, Midville and Watkinsville — and directed the network until 2010. He was followed by Ian Flitcroft, who retired in 2018. Hoogenboom, now a professor and preeminent scholar at the University of Florida, still uses the UGA weather data as inputs in his ongoing Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) training classes that are offered each summer on the Griffin campus.

Giant invasive bees could threaten native pollinators

Posted on
Friday, May 28, 2021

University of Georgia entomologists are seeking citizen help to document the presence of the sculptured resin bee — also known as the giant resin bee — an invasive bee that could threaten the native carpenter bee population.

The sculptured resin bee is native to Japan and China and was first found in the U.S. in North Carolina in 1994. While they are not aggressive to people, these bees have the potential to create problems for native carpenter bees by taking over their nests, where they then lay their own eggs. Sculptured resin bees take advantage of the cavities created in wood by carpenter bees because they do not have the mandible strength to bore into the wood on their own.

Dan Suiter, a professor in the Department of Entomology on the UGA Griffin campus, added that although he doesn't see resin bees frequently, they are known to be a good pollinator of some plant species.

“We don’t see this bee very often,” said Suiter, noting that he is occasionally sent a sample of a resin bee to identify. “But we know that it’s invasive and uses kudzu as a food source.”

UGA Griffin holds Spring 2021 Undergraduate Brick Ceremony

Posted on
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The University of Georgia Griffin campus held a Brick Ceremony for the Spring 2021 undergraduate students on Thursday, May 13 at the Naomi Chapman Woodroof Agricultural Pavilion. This event is special to the Griffin campus, with each graduate receiving a brick, featuring their name and class year, to be placed on the floor of the pavilion where it will remain for all time.

For the undergraduate ceremony, Dericka Pruitt, who received her Bachelor of Arts from UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, served as the student speaker. Pruitt was nominated and selected by UGA faculty and staff to be recognized.

She spoke to the crowd about the perseverance she and her fellow classmates demonstrated, noting this was one of the first major steps they would take in the journey of their lives.

Filed under:

UGA Griffin holds Spring 2021 Graduate Brick Ceremony

Posted on
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

University of Georgia Griffin graduates had the opportunity to literally leave their mark on campus during the Spring 2021 Brick Ceremony held on Thursday, May 13. This event is special to UGA Griffin, with each graduate receiving a brick, featuring their name and class year, to be placed on the floor of the Naomi Chapman Woodroof Agricultural Pavilion where it will remain for all time.

“When you come back 20 or 30 years from now, with the kids and grandkids, you will be able to bring them over and find your brick,” said Dr. David Buntin, Interim Assistant Provost and Campus Director for UGA Griffin. “By then hopefully we will have the entire floor covered in bricks of our graduates.”

In order to keep with social distancing measures, separate ceremonies were held for graduate students and undergraduate students, with each featuring a student speaker for the group. The student speakers were nominated and selected by UGA faculty and staff. 

High school students complete STEM Internship Program at UGA Griffin

Posted on
Monday, May 3, 2021

Congratulations are in order for five Pike County High School seniors who recently completed the UGA Griffin Campus STEM Internship Program on Wednesday, April 14. The students -Victor Avila, Anna Edwards, Caitlyn Foster, Henry Glover and Davis Huber-spent the last school year conducting research on campus.

“Formally, these high achieving students can earn high school honors credit for participating,” said Be-Atrice Cunningham, UGA Griffin coordinator. “They also gain a wealth of information and personal experience, a rare opportunity for most high school students.”

Irrigation benefits both newly planted and established peach trees in UGA study

Posted on
Tuesday, April 27, 2021

While peach orchards are a common sight throughout middle and south Georgia — helping the Peach State live up to its name — peach producers need more than just the title to ensure that both long-established groves and newly planted fields are successful.

Dario Chavez and his research team in the Department of Horticulture on the University of Georgia Griffin campus are working to answer that question. Beginning in 2014, Chavez, along with then-graduate student Bruno Casamali, began working on improving Irrigation and fertilization management practices for young peach trees in the Southeastern U.S. after finding there was no up-to-date information available. Traditionally, irrigation management relied solely on rainfall, which is not always predictable.

“People always think the Southeast gets a lot of rain, but the rain we do get is very variable,” said Chavez. “Sometimes you have a lot of rain and other times you go for long periods without it.”

Braman, Hodgson named 2021 Classified Employees of the Year

Posted on
Thursday, April 15, 2021

The University of Georgia Griffin campus recently named Richie Braman and Ryan Hodgson as the 2021 Classified Employees of the year. The designation was made at the 32nd Annual Employee Recognition Ceremony held on Wednesday, April 7.

Eleven employees were nominated for the Classified Employee of the Year Award- Richie Braman (Center for Urban Agriculture), Avery Bray (Academic Programs), Brett Byous (Entomology), Kenneth Corley (Facilities Management Division), Meghan den Bakker (Center for Food Safety), Lauren Hatcher (FoodPIC), Ryan Hodgson (Field Research Services), Angie Lewis (Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit), Ben Lopez (Crop and Soil Sciences), Sarah Sawyer (Horticulture), and Brian Vermeer (Plant Pathology).

Filed under:

Insecticide residue in the soil harms wild bees

Posted on
Monday, April 12, 2021

New research funded by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and conducted at the University of Georgia shows that imidacloprid residue harms wild bees.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Christine Fortuin, now a postdoctorate researcher at UGA, developed a more accurate understanding of the lethal and sublethal effects of neonicotinoid exposure on blue orchard mason bees by studying multiple pathways of imidacloprid exposure.

“Imidacloprid is a neonicotinoid, which is a group of pesticides that are highly toxic to bees. It has several common uses but my research was focused on the soil-drench application method. This is when it is applied directly to the soil and soaked up through the roots of the tree to prevent beetles and other pests,” explained Fortuin.

She worked with Kamal Gandhi, a UGA professor of forest entomology, to conduct the research through Southern SARE’s Graduate Student Grant program.

Blue orchard mason bees are one of the few bees native to North America that can be a managed pollinator for orchard crops like apples, cherries and blueberries. Mason bees are members of the Osmia bee family and are considered a wild and solitary species. They have no queens or worker bees and while this dark, metallic blue pollinator may be similar in size to a honey bee, both its lifecycle and interactions with the environment are very different.