AgCenter News

Linda Benedict  |  5/3/2016 9:17:48 PM

Soybean board gives $1.75 million for research, outreach

The Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board has given the LSU AgCenter $1.75 million to fund a total of 62 research and outreach projects in 2016.

“We are grateful that Louisiana farmers, through their checkoff programs, see enough value in our scientists’ work to support their research,” said Rogers Leonard, AgCenter associate vice president. “They recognize that the economic return per dollar they invest is worth it.”

The funds come from a commodity checkoff program, which collect a percentage of farmers’ proceeds from sales of soybeans, corn, wheat and grain sorghum.

“The checkoff program that funds the Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board is important to Louisiana farmers,” said Raymond Schexnayder Jr., chairman of the board. “This funding supports LSU AgCenter research that addresses issues specific to Louisiana’s unique climate and geography, such as insect and disease pressures that are not prevalent in the rest of the United States.”

The funded projects cover all aspects of agricultural production and focus on helping farmers make better management decisions. Among them, Leonard said, are two new projects requested by board members – using winter cover crops in conservation programs and the effects of irrigation on phosphorus and potassium in grain crop production. Olivia McClure

Rice planting gets off to good start

Good weather set the stage for good planting conditions for the 2016 rice crop in Louisiana.

“In general, we’re off to a good start,” said Steve Linscombe, director of the LSU AgCenter H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station. “I think this has probably been the most favorable growing conditions in the month of March in my career.”

Some farmers were finished planting as early as March 7, he said.

Linscombe said most farmers appear to have good stands, with only a few scattered fields needing to be replanted.

The bird repellent AV-1011 is working well at preventing birds from eating rice seed, he said. “This has been an outstanding product for us.”

Louisiana’s rice crop could increase over last year’s 412,000 acres, Linscombe said. It may be too late to replant flooded corn fields, and a portion of that land could be used to grow rice. Bruce Schultz

4-H’ers learn outdoor skills

Arrows flew, clay targets were busted, and written tests were taken—all part of the 4-H outdoor skills competition March 23-26 near Shreveport.

The event, held at the Long Range Gun Club, had more than 900 4-H’ers participate. The number of participants shows how popular the program has become for Louisiana youth, according to David Boldt, LSU AgCenter 4-H shooting sports coordinator.

“We’re probably at about 5,000 to 6,000 kids that are involved with it. As far as competition, which is coming to the two regionals, we are close to 2,000,” Boldt said.

One of the big draws of the 4-H outdoor skills program is its family involvement. “As you can see if you walked around, they have tents set up. They’re cooking. It’s really family oriented. You’ll see all family members come out, and they will do it all day,” Boldt said.

Benny Bell, an agricultural education teacher at Ebarb High School in Sabine Parish, sees the program as an opportunity for students who are not involved in traditional extracurricular activities such as football, softball or track.

“I pick kids that don’t compete in other sports. It’s an outlet for them that they might not have otherwise,” Bell said.

Bell has had six students advance to the national finals held annually in Grand Island, Nebraska.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority. We want the kids to have fun, but be safe,” Boldt said.

The competition could not be accomplished without a large contingent of volunteers, many of them parents.

“We give such an investment into the other children in our school and our parish, and we want to see them do well and support them,” said Carla Jinks, a parent volunteer from Bienville Parish, who was taking vacation time to help coach. Craig Gautreaux

4-H camp puts students, parents on road to better health

4-H’ers from across Louisiana learned that fitness can be fun and healthy eating doesn’t have to bust your budget at the LSU AgCenter 4-H Food and Fitness Family Camp March 18-20 at the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center in Pollock.

This year’s theme was "Passport: Roundtrip to Good Health." The camp was open to 4-H students and their parents.

“If the parents aren’t on board, it’s really hard for kids to make changes,” said Jessica Stroope, LSU AgCenter extension associate.

Twenty-two fourth- through sixth-graders, most accompanied by either one or both parents, participated in numerous activities conducted by 4-H’ers, who are members of the 2015-2016 4-H State Food and Fitness Board, and the board’s advisers.

Sessions included lessons in nutrition, food preparation, food safety and fitness.

“Fitness can be fun. It doesn’t have to be about working out and eating boring food,” said Alexis Cole, board president.

The 4-H Food and Fitness Family Camp was made possible, in part, by a grant from ConAgra Foods.

“The ConAgra grant supports the food and fitness programs along with the 4-H parish efforts throughout the state,” Stroope said. “It focuses on nutrition and food budgeting skills for families.”

For Jennifer Anderson, of Natchitoches Parish, and her 10-year-old son, Sawyer, the camp was a bonding time. “I think it’s great that we get to do this as a family activity,” she said. Tammi Arender

U.S. official urges African involvement

Agricultural research and education efforts are critical to helping solve food security issues in Africa, a senior U.S. Department of State diplomat said during a meeting with students and faculty. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary of the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs and an LSU graduate, met with faculty members and students to discuss the LSU AgCenter’s international outreach efforts and current agriculture issues in Africa.

Several African students studying agriculture at LSU had a chance to tell Thomas-Greenfield about their research projects in fields that include nutrition, dairy science and soil science. Some of them have plans to return to their home countries after graduating to teach people about modern agricultural practices that can improve productivity and strengthen the food supply.

Thomas-Greenfield said she is glad the students realize the importance of extending their research results to farmers.

“We are in the throes of a food crisis in Africa, and we’re on the edge of a famine in Ethiopia,” she said.

Improving agriculture will help promote peace and prosperity in Africa, Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that it was encouraging to hear the students want to be part of that process. Olivia McClure

(This news appeared in the winter 2016 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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Members of the Louisiana Soybean and Grain Research and Promotion Board are, from left to right, Robert Thevis, of Simmesport; Joey Olivier, of Arnaudville; J.K. Bordelon, of Moreauville; Carlos Polotzola, of Melville; Ryan Kirby, of Belcher; Charles Cannatella, of Melville; Donald Berken, of Welsh; board chairman Raymond Schexnayder Jr., of Ventress; Leo Franchebois, of Opelousas; and Dan Turner, of Mer Rouge. Photo by Olivia McClure

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Research associate James Leonards, right, walks behind a planter being loaded by LSU AgCenter rice extension specialist Dustin Harrell at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley. Photo by Bruce Schultz

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Dakota Puckett, 16, of Webster Parish, takes aim during the bow competition of the outdoor skills challenge held during the Louisiana 4-H North Regional shooting sports contest at the Long Range Gun Club near Shreveport. The five components of the outdoor skills challenge were a wildlife ID test, shooting a bow, shotgun and rifle, and an orienteering test. Photo by Craig Gautreaux

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Ebony Martin, of St. Martin Parish, left, and her daughter, Janell Howard, show off their chocolate-dipped bananas with dried fruit at the 4-H Food and Fitness Camp at the Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center in Pollock. Photo by Tammi Arender

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Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, right, talks to students about involvement in African agriculture. Photo by Olivia McClure

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Chris Johnson looks over a “lake” that was once a corn field in eastern Ouachita Parish on March 16 right after heavy rains caused massive flooding in parts of Louisiana. LSU AgCenter corn specialist Dan Fromme estimated that about 40,000 acres of corn would have to be replanted. Corn acreage for the state was forecast to be down significantly from last year’s 500,000 acres. Photo by Tammi Arender

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