Research

Unmanned drone cameras help UGA scientists document research results

Posted on
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Georgia House Resolution 744 created a committee to study the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in the state. Created as a result of public concern, the committee will look at the uses of these remote-controlled, airplane-like devices, equipped with cameras and used by law enforcement agencies and other government authorities, to determine whether they invade privacy.

University of Georgia scientist Clint Waltz in Griffin, Georgia, has been using an aerial drone to reduce the amount of time he and his technician spend documenting data in fields. They also use the drone to gather supplemental data through bird’s-eye-view photographs of research plots.

Waltz is uncovering how his research benefits from the use of his drone, or what looks like a miniature helicopter with a camera mounted underneath it.

“Photo documentation is essential to our research, and the drone can take aerial photos of the effects of different fertilizer and pesticide treatments on various grasses,” said Waltz, UGA Extension’s turfgrass specialist. “It can go up 50 or 60 feet and take a photo, which helps us measure treatment effects.”

The drone Waltz uses on the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences campus in Griffin is lightweight, weighing under 5 pounds.

UGA apps bring expert lawn-care advice to mobile devices

Posted on
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summertime is synonymous with cooking outdoors, taking a dip in the pool and cranking up the lawn mower to begin the arduous task of caring for your home lawn. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has made the task a little easier through a few mobile apps for Georgia homeowners and green industry professionals alike.

“More and more people rely heavily on their smartphones and mobile devices, so experts in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences created mobile apps based on agricultural topics,” said Patrick McCullough, a UGA Extension weed scientist and developer of several turfgrass-related mobile apps.

McCullough developed a series of turf management apps that include photos of turfgrass varieties, pests, weeds and diseases. There are three versions: Turfgrass Management – Lite; Turfgrass Management – Subscription; and Turfgrass Management Lite (Spanish). The lite and Spanish versions are free. The subscription version costs $19.99 per year and includes the lite version, plus information on pest control applications and a pesticide database.

For the more serious home gardener, the Turfgrass Management Calculator app covers all types of applications, pesticide rates, fertilizer requirements, topdressing sand requirements, and calibration of sprayers and spreaders. It also converts units from standard to metric, includes more than 16,000 pre-programmed calculations and costs just $5.99.

Visiting scientist conducts research on peanut pathogen at UGA Griffin

Posted on
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Maxwell Lamptey is visiting America, specifically Griffin, Georgia, in the hopes of learning new methods to fight aflatoxin — a carcinogen produced by soil fungus that can grow on peanuts — in his home country of Ghana. Lamptey is participating in a short-term training program, from March to September, supported by the Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL), housed at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

A senior technical officer studying legumes at the Crops Research Institute, Lamptey has been working on the university’s campus in Griffin, Georgia, alongside food scientist and PMIL collaborator Jinru Chen.

Research is nothing new to Lamptey, but his work normally focuses on ways to increase yields.

“In Ghana, I am involved in conducting a lot of trials, evaluations and cross hybridizations of all kinds of legumes, but mainly cowpeas and groundnuts (peanuts),” he said.

On the UGA Griffin Campus, he is studying the use of solar drying to control aflatoxin contamination in peanuts. He is comparing solar drying to normal drying.

Normal drying involves exposing the peanuts directly to sunlight on the ground or on concrete. Solar drying does not expose the peanuts directly to sunlight or rain. Instead, a dryer captures the heat from the sun and an enclosed structure around the nuts conducts the heat, Lamptey said.

Healthier eating, better tracking results in more produce-related foodborne illness cases

Posted on
Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mike Doyle doesn’t eat raw bean sprouts, medium-rare hamburgers or bagged salads. He isn’t on a special diet, but as director of the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Georgia, he studies the food pathogens that sicken thousands of Americans each year.

Doyle works closely with the food industry, consumer groups and government agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, on issues related to the microbiological safety of food. He also serves as a scientific adviser to groups like the World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Academy of Sciences.

For a time, foodborne illness was most often connected with undercooked meats, and most product recalls and outbreaks were connected to meat products. Today, 33 percent of cases are tracked back to raw produce, Doyle said. In an odd Catch-22, he says America’s efforts to become healthier, including eating more produce, and efforts by the CDC and local health departments to do “a better job tracking sources” have led to the increase of reported foodborne illness cases linked to produce.

UGA graduate research on display at south Georgia event

Posted on
Thursday, March 17, 2016

The University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Graduate School jointly hosted a graduate research event, focusing specifically on research conducted in south Georgia.

The reception, held Thursday, March 17, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, recognized 11 current graduate students who represented UGA’s campuses in Athens, Griffin and Tifton, Georgia, as well as the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation's Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Newton, Georgia. All of the student-scientists presented their research projects and spoke with invited guests about their work.

Among them was Shannon Parrish, who is pursuing a master’s degree in crop and soil sciences from CAES. Her research focuses on cotton’s sustainability in Georgia.

“As a graduate student, being able to present research (that) you have worked on is always exciting. With each presentation, I look forward to educating others on the importance of determining cotton’s sustainability in Georgia,” Parrish said. “I hope everyone I spoke to comes away from our encounter with an understanding of how vital cotton is to the state and the need for documenting the crop’s environmental footprint.”

Other UGA graduate students at the event and their areas of study include:

–Kiran Gadhave (CAES), studying plant-vector-virus interactions.

New UGA scientist searches for grasses that can survive drought, heat and other environmental stressors

Posted on
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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."

Large population of fall armyworms hits Georgia hay fields

Posted on
Thursday, September 15, 2016

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.

Researchers with the UGA CAES brought in $69 million in external funding during fiscal year 2016

Posted on
Friday, August 12, 2016

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.

UGA turfgrass research highlighted at Griffin Campus field day

Posted on
Thursday, August 11, 2016

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.

Francisco Diez is new director of UGA Center for Food Safety

Posted on
Friday, August 5, 2016

For years, food scientist Francisco Diez studied and admired the work of University of Georgia Regents’ Professor Mike Doyle, but the two researchers’ paths never crossed. For the next year, they will work closely together as Diez transitions into Doyle’s role as director of the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Georgia. Doyle, a leading authority on foodborne pathogens, came to the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 1991 to establish the center. As director, he developed a research program that promotes collaboration among the food industry, the university, and federal and state agencies.

A native of Mexico, Diez earned a bachelor’s degree in food technology from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, and completed master’s and doctoral degrees in food science at Cornell University in New York. He comes to UGA from the University of Minnesota, where he was a faculty member and head of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. His research focuses on the family of pathogens known as enterohemorrhagic E. coli, an important cause of food contamination and foodborne illness.