Linda Benedict | 6/6/2017 9:05:40 PM
Experts discuss irrigation at water symposium
LSU AgCenter economist Naveen Adusumilli was among the speakers at the Louisiana Groundwater, Surface Water and Water Resources Symposium on the LSU campus April 11-12. He spoke about improving irrigation efficiency and water quality and how he helped develop a rate structure for the North Caddo Irrigation District, which includes the Natural Resources Conservation Service Red Bayou project. It pumps water from the Red River into the bayou so farmers have surface water for irrigation.
Most farmers now pay the irrigation district about $65 per acre-foot of water. The rate structure includes a fee based on how much water is used, which Adusumilli said encourages efficiency. It also ensures the district will have funds for future equipment repairs.
Other AgCenter speakers included Changyoon Jeong, who discussed his research on improving water quality with a constructed wetland like the one at the AgCenter Red River Research Station in Bossier City, which consists of two ponds. Louisiana Master Farmer Program coordinator Ernest Girouard told about a project in which he and Jeong are monitoring water quality on a Vermilion Parish rice and soybean farm that reuses runoff collected in a reservoir. As the water circulates through the system, nutrients also get reused, reducing pollution in nearby waterways.
Blake Wilson named rice, sugarcane entomologist
Blake Wilson has been hired as an assistant professor of field crops entomology with the LSU AgCenter.
His primary responsibilities will be research and extension relating to rice and sugarcane insects. An area of focus is improving the economics and sustainability of integrated pest management for rice. Another focus is on management of major insect pests in sugarcane, including the sugarcane borer and the Mexican rice borer, and rice insect pests that include the rice water weevil, rice stink bug and stem borers.
Scale insect is causing widespread wetland damage
This open area of marsh shows damage to roseau cane from a small insect called the Phragmites scale, which is key to the survival of Louisiana coastal marsh, says LSU AgCenter entomologist Rodrigo Diaz. So far, the insect has damaged a considerable amount of roseau cane in Plaquemines Parish from Venice to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The roots of roseau cane hold marsh soil in place, and it helps with coastal land loss. “By far, it’s one of the best plants for preventing erosion,” Diaz said. The insects originate from China or Japan, but how they got to Louisiana is uncertain. Diaz said it has only been in the last few weeks that the scale was identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sensory Services Lab seeks ‘Tiger Tasters’
Before new food products make it to market, they often go through consumer testing. The Sensory Services Lab in the LSU AgCenter School of Nutrition and Food Sciences is set up to help companies conduct sensory evaluations, consumer preferences and product research. To conduct taste tests, the center needs taste testers. Researchers with the center are compiling a database of individuals who could be called upon to participate in these consumer tests. Ashley Gutierrez, the sensory lab manager, said anyone 18 years or older can sign up to be a Tiger Taster with the lab.
“This is a great opportunity to help shape new products,” Gutierrez said. Tiger Tasters can sign up by filling out a brief survey that collects demographic information. The information is used to help companies get a panel of tasters that best suits their needs.
AgCenter hosts international meeting on technology transfer
The LSU AgCenter hosted administrators from several universities for an international conference on the best ways to disseminate technology and information to the public. The Visegrad University Association Technology Transfer Symposium held April 2-8 included rectors and deans from
universities in the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Russia and Ukraine as well as dignitaries from embassies. The AgCenter is the only U.S. institution in the association, according to AgCenter Vice Chancellor John Russin. The AgCenter has organized numerous student exchanges with Visegrad universities, notably with the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Slovakia, and Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic. Additionally, faculty from the AgCenter have visited those universities to identify opportunities to collaborate on research and outreach endeavors, and vice versa.
Youth learn outdoor skills at 4-H Survivor Camp
Nearly 70 seventh- through 12th-graders from 10 parishes in north Louisiana participated in 4-H Survivor Camp at North Toledo Bend State Park for three days in March, where they learned outdoor survival skills while working together as teams to complete tasks and compete in contests. “We’re trying to give the kids a sense of belonging and this camp is designed to develop trust and to help them work on their communication skills,” said Donny Moon, LSU AgCenter agent in Winn Parish. Because phone reception was almost nonexistent, the campers had to focus on more traditional technology like compasses, maps and the scenery itself, Moon said.