AgCenter News

Linda Benedict  |  5/12/2015 8:29:57 PM

Terry Barker, at left, an elementary education major at LSU of Alexandria, gives students a closer look at some insects they found during a scavenger hunt at Wetlands Exploration Day at 4-H Camp Grant on April 23. Photo by Brandy Orlando

Examples of wood-based foam samples produced by the LSU AgCenter during preliminary research. Photo by Todd Shupe

The Louisiana Master Farmer Program received the Conservation Educator of the Year Award at the 51st Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Awards Program, hosted by Louisiana Wildlife Federation. Left to right are James Hendrix, LSU AgCenter agent; Robert Barham, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary; Ernest Girouard, Master Farmer coordinator; Allen Hogan and Donna Morgan, LSU AgCenter agents; and Barney Callahan, LWF president. Photo by Teri Henry/Louisiana Wildlife Federation

Teacher Judy Morgan shows one of her students a weed to be pulled from vegetable seedlings at Charles Burke Elementary School in Lafayette Parish. Photo by Bruce Schultz

LSU AgCenter plant breeder Steve Harrison, left, explains differences among oat varieties to visitors at the wheat and oat field day on April 22 at the Macon Ridge Research Station. Photo by Rick Bogren

Thousands of students participate in Wetlands Week
Thousands of students from across the state participated in various events during Wetlands Week April 20-24 to celebrate Louisiana’s most valuable treasure. At 4-H Camp Grant Walker in Pollock, the event was called Wetlands Exploration Day, and it was April 23, said Ashley Powell, camp coordinator. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids to take science outdoors,” she said. Thirty fifth-graders from Colfax Elementary School in Colfax, Louisiana, rotated through five learning tracks: An Arthropod Adventure, Investigating Insects, Wetlands Taste Exploration, You Are What You Beak and Birds of a Feather. Begun in 2007, the 4-H Youth Wetlands Program is funded by a grant through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The program offers teachers in grades three through 12 a free, 35-lesson curriculum tying wetlands into Louisiana Grade Level Expectations, according to Ashley Mullens, the director. Brandy Orlando

$250,000 grant to fund foam insulation research
The LSU AgCenter has received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Innovative Uses of Wood program. The grant will fund a project on biobased spray foam insulation from wood residues. The project is led by forest products researchers Todd Shupe and Niels de Hoop from the School of Renewable Natural Resources. “The main goal of the project is to determine the potential of low-value wood fiber as a raw material for the development of a green spray foam insulation,” Shupe said. “Consumers are demanding green products for their houses, but insulation is one product that is currently not very green.” This project will allow the team to determine the potential of small-diameter timber and low-value fiber as a feedstock for spray foam insulation. This material currently has little to no value but poses a significant risk for wildfires, Shupe said. In addition to substantial energy cost savings, wood-based spray foam has much better biodegradability compared to petroleum- based foam insulation, which will benefit the environment when this material is landfilled. Johnny Morgan

Improving deer health topic for field day
Owners of high-fence deer facilities and others interested in the business attended the high fence deer management field day at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones Wildlife Institute, in Clinton, Louisiana, on April 22. Glen Gentry, interim director at the AgCenter Bob R. Jones Idlewild Research Station, said there are a number of highfence operations in Louisiana, with most of the larger operations in the northern part of the state. There are also breeder pens that feed the larger high-fence hunting operations. The sizes range from 30 to 40 acres for the breeder pens to 500 to 2,500 acres for the hunting operations, Gentry said. “One of the goals of the breeders is to improve the genetics of the deer in their herds, which normally means larger antler size,” said Phil Elzer, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor and program leader for animal sciences. They also are looking for animals with resistance to disease so they can be sold to others in the business. Johnny Morgan

Food Incubator receives $2.5 million grant
The LSU AgCenter Food Incubator has received a three-year $2.5 million grant from the Louisiana Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit. The grant comes from federal Community Development Block Grant Funds provided to the state by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to stimulate economic development in areas of the state affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008. The Food Incubator, which was established in 2013 and currently serves 25 tenants, provides food entrepreneurs tools and expertise to test, produce, package and market foods. The grant will allow purchase of more equipment so that about 200 clients can be accommodated in some capacity. A number of tenants are now selling their products, which range from salad dressings to snack foods, in regional locations of Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Associated Grocers stores and Rouses Supermarkets. “The continued success of the food companies is due to the LSU AgCenter’s resources, equipment, support staff and our network within the community,” said Gaye Sandoz, director. Olivia McClure

Researchers share tips for wheat, oats at field day
Dozens of wheat and oat varieties from university research and commercial companies were on display at the annual wheat and oat field day at the LSU AgCenter Macon Ridge Research Station, in Winnsboro, on April 22. Stripe rust, freeze damage and driving rains were a combination that created problems this year for farmers, said Steve Harrison, AgCenter small grains breeder. Scab disease problems are growth-stage dependent, Harrison said. “We have to work on scab from a genetics perspective and from a management perspective.” AgCenter plant pathologist Trey Price reviewed research trials that screen varieties for resistance to scab, which is also known as fusarium head blight. The fungus also causes ear rot, stalk rot and root rot in corn. Price rates all plots to identify resistance in different varieties. He suggested staggered planting so all the crop doesn’t mature at the same time, avoiding a total infestation of scab disease. Maximum control from fungicides is about 50 percent and average control is about 40 percent, Price said. “Fungicide application is effective during a five-day window, so timing and coverage are critical.” Rick Bogren

Master Farmer Program receives award
The Louisiana Master Farmer Program was honored by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation at the Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Award Banquet on March 28. Receiving the Louisiana Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator of the Year Award were Louisiana Master Farmer Program Coordinator Ernest Girouard and team members Donna Morgan, Allen Hogan and James Hendrix, all AgCenter extension agents. “It’s recognition of the work we do in helping farmers adopt the environmental and conservation practices that protect Louisiana’s natural resources,” Girouard said. “It’s great to be recognized for the conservation effort with farmers in our state.” Girouard said the program is unique because it involves a partnership of the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the Louisiana Farm Bureau. To date, more than 200 Louisiana farmers have achieved full Master Farmer certification. An additional 2,496 farmers are enrolled in the program and currently undertaking various phases of the educational and conservation plan implementation process. Bruce Schultz

Lafayette Parish teacher honored for ag education
Judy Morgan, fourth-grade teacher at Charles Burke Elementary School in Lafayette Parish, has been honored by the Louisiana Farm Bureau as Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year for her school garden project. Along with the award came a $600 grant from the Farm Bureau to help pay for improvements to the garden. “I was stunned,” Morgan said. The award was affirmation that the 4-H school garden is a huge benefit to her class, Morgan said. She is coordinator of the LSU AgCenter 4-H School Garden Initiative Program at Charles Burke Elementary School. She said the AgCenter expertise has been essential to the garden’s success. The entire AgCenter faculty is supportive, she said. “I can call any one person, and they respond.” Four fourth-grade classes, about 80 students, participate in the school’s garden program. The Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom program is designed to help students gain an awareness of the role agriculture plays in the economy and society. The program also helps teachers use agriculture in their curriculum. Bruce Schultz

(These articles was published in the spring 2015 issue of Louisiana Agriculture Magazine.)

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