International Programs News

Linda Benedict  |  9/11/2014 11:41:52 PM

Visiting scholars from Honduras Elam Aleman, Cesar Escalante and Mariano Sobalbarro with LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson, second from left, at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center field day on July 17. (Photo by Olivia McClure.)

David Picha, director of LSU AgCenter International Programs, with Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation engineers Koji Wakamori and Dorj Ichikawa at the AgCenter Rice Research Station in Crowley. (Photo bySusan Karimiha.)

Honduran students get hands-on experience at Dean Lee Research Station

Testing soybean varieties or studying cotton fertility in the heat of the Louisiana summer might not appeal to some LSU students. But three visiting scholars from Honduras have been doing just that at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research and Extension Center in Alexandria, and they say it has been the experience of a lifetime.

Elam Aleman, Mariano Sobalbarro and Cesar Escalante are students from the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura in Honduras. Aleman and Sobalbarro are working with AgCenter soybean specialist Ronnie Levy this summer to complete their undergraduate theses. They are helping with Levy’s work on optimizing soybean yields as well as variety trials and development.

Escalante, a recent graduate of UNA who plans to attend LSU for a master’s degree in plant pathology, has been studying irrigation, fungicides, insecticides and fertility with AgCenter corn and cotton specialist Dan Fromme.

Because their university only offers a general agriculture degree, working at Dean Lee has exposed the scholars to areas of agriculture they weren’t familiar with but, in some cases, are now interested in studying in graduate school at LSU.

“They’re learning about everything from planting seed all the way through harvest, recording the data and relaying that information to the producers,” Levy said. “That’s important because in today’s world, a lot of students in agriculture have the basic educational knowledge, but they don’t have the practical knowledge of production.”

The scholars say they’ve also enjoyed the extension work because it gives them a chance to meet people, practice English and learn about American culture. Escalante said he now knows not only how to design and manage experiments, but also how to share the results in a way useful to farmers. 

“If you give knowledge to the producers, they can put it in practice and make progress,” he said. “When I go back to my country, I will teach other people about extension. It’s one way a country can go into the future.” 


Japanese company looks to AgCenter for expertise

Satellites in space may be far away, but two Japanese engineers are developing ways to use them to improve their country’s rice crop.

Koji Wakamori and Dorj Ichikawa, chief engineers with the Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS), visited the LSU AgCenter on July 21-22 to discuss collaboration in remote sensing and data processing for agricultural purposes. They also attended the St. Landry Soybean and Rice Producer Field Tour and met with faculty at the AgCenter Rice Research Station.

Wakamori and Ichikawa, who work in JAMSS’ business incubation center, spoke with AgCenter soil scientist Brenda Tubaña and nematologist Charles Overstreet, who use remote sensing in their research. They also heard from AgCenter engineer Randy Price and Tensas Parish agent Dennis Burns about unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, which can be used to monitor crops and collect data.

“Developing appropriate collaborations with a diversity of public and private sector international organizations is beneficial to strengthening the research, extension and training efforts of the AgCenter,” said David Picha, director of International Programs. “Much can be learned by collaborating with international agriculture firms, which can benefit Louisiana and the global community.”

JAMSS is a private company that has designed modules used on the International Space Station and processes information from satellites. The company is now applying that technology to agriculture by helping farmers in the Japan Agriculture Union interpret data and imagery of rice paddies. They also monitor tomatoes in Australia and tea in Vietnam. ?


These articles were published in the 2014 summer  issue of Louisiana Agriculture Magazine.

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