More than 40 years ago, a young man from Arkansas decided to become an agriculture major because "it was the beginning of the Green Revolution, and agriculture had a bright future." Today that man, University of Georgia professor Paul Raymer, has served Georgia agriculture as a variety tester, a soybean specialist, a canola breeder and a turfgrass breeder. Read the full article here.
Turfgrass and Weed Science
After months of abnormally dry and warm conditions, 52 north Georgia counties are now facing water use restrictions in accordance with Gov. Nathan Deal’s Level 2 drought response designation. Fifty-eight other counties are being required to implement Level 1 drought responses.
Homeowners and businesses in the affected counties must limit their landscape irrigation to two days a week. Even-numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursdays and Sundays, also between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.
The Level 2 drought response also calls for homeowners and business owners to refrain from washing hard surfaces, such as streets and sidewalks; washing cars at home or for fundraisers; noncommercial pressure washing; using fountains or water features; and using fire hydrants for any reason except for firefighting and public safety.
Irrigation of newly installed turf or landscape plants or vegetable gardens; irrigation at commercial nurseries, parks, sports fields and golf courses; hand-watering; and irrigation with drip or soaker hoses are exempt from these regulations, as these are considered agricultural water uses.
In addition to building and maintaining roads, the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) mows grass and kills weeds that obstruct drivers’ views. A University of Georgia scientist has created an app to help DOT agronomists kill weeds quicker, using less chemicals.
Patrick McCullough, a weed scientist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, decided to create the Georgia Roadside Management app after Georgia DOT officials approached him for help.
“The biggest problem they have is fighting invasive weed species, like broomsedge, vaseygrass and Johnsongrass. They are major species, and they are spreading, increasing maintenance costs and, more importantly, reducing safety for motorists,” said McCullough, a UGA researcher based on the campus in Griffin, Georgia.
Ray Dorsey, Georgia DOT agronomist manager, says tall weeds, like Johnsongrass, and invasive weeds, like kudzu, create “sight and distance problems,” especially at driveways and intersections.
“When we do road building, the contractors are required to replace the grass. Our permanent grasses of choice are bahiagrass and bermudagrass because they can help choke out weeds,” he said.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Whether you're a homeowner, new landscape company owner or a veteran golf course superintendent, you'll find the latest research-based information on growing and maintaining turfgrass at the University of Georgia Turfgrass Research Field Day.
Registration starts at 8 a.m. on Aug. 4 and tours begin at 9:15 a.m. and conclude at 2:30 p.m. The daylong event will be held rain or shine on the turfgrass research plots at the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga.
Residential and commercial lawn topics
UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researchers and Extension specialists will present the latest information on how to care for residential lawns, commercial golf courses, athletic fields and any other space covered with turfgrass. Field day topics will include how to control weeds, insects and diseases, managing seed heads, heat and drought tolerance and an update on the UGA turfgrass breeding programs.
Guided tours will be offered in Spanish for Spanish-speaking attendees.
The field day is certified for private and commercial pesticide recertification credits in Georgia and neighboring states. A license number is required to receive the field day credits.
A catered BBQ lunch will be followed by displays and demonstrations of the latest turfgrass industry equipment. The self-guided portion of the research tour begins at 1:15 p.m.