AgCenter News for Fall 2017

Researcher creates new drilling fluid for oil industry

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Qinglin Wu, professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources, holds a sample of a nanocellulosic material made from tree waste that he is using to create a new drilling fluid for the oil industry. The research is being supported by a $346,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and a $187,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents through its Industrial Tie program. Nanocellulose refers to cellulose, which can also come from other renewable biomass materials, such as straw or sugarcane bagasse, broken down to the level of molecules and atoms. Nanocellulose can be shaped into microscopic fibers with tensile strength stronger than steel. “There is a need for developing a new generation of smart drilling fluids with key additives from abundant, inexpensive, sustainable and biodegradable materials that will feature more environmentally friendlier features,” Wu said.

Chiquita Briley names new director for Southeast Region

Chiquita Briley has been named the new director for the LSU AgCenter Southeast Region, taking over from Regina Bracy, who retired in July. Briley comes to the AgCenter from Tennessee State University in Nashville, where she was head of the Department of Human Sciences. She will oversee AgCenter personnel and programs in 16 parishes and three research stations. Briley received a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Southern University and a master’s degree in nutritional sciences and dietetics and a doctorate in human sciences from the University of Nebraska. Much of Briley’s career has been in nutrition education and extension. She was a nutritionist for the University of Nebraska before moving to Mississippi State University as an assistant, then associate professor. She joined the faculty of Tennessee State University in July 2013 as a public health nutrition extension specialist and associate professor before moving into the role of department head. Briley said she wants to invest in communities and their challenges. “It is critical if we are to build knowledge and train our faculty and students with the character needed to be successful,” she said. The appointment was effective Dec. 1.

Cattle producers learn pasture care techniques

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Attendees of a cattle and forage field day study their grazing sticks while listening to a presentation on how to use the tools to estimate how many pounds of forage a pasture will yield. The field day was held at the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria in October. Pasture care was one of the topics because well-maintained pastures keep animals healthy and adequately nourished. Pastures may be able to accommodate additional grazings if treated with environmentally smart nitrogen, a fertilizer product with a temperature- and moisture-sensitive coating, said AgCenter research associate Jeff Gurie. He told about the results of a multi-year project in which three ryegrass plots were treated with urea, urea plus the Agrotain nitrogen stablizer and environmentally smart nitrogen (ESN), respectively. In 2015, the ESN-treated ryegrass plots reached grazing height fastest, allowing them to be grazed six times as compared to five in the others. In 2016, each fertilized plot was grazed only four times, a reduction Gurie said was possibly caused by weather conditions. The ESN coating helps prevent the rapid volatilization seen with urea, which causes plants to have insufficient nitrogen when they begin to emerge, he said. Read the full article.

Scientists get $490,000 to study deer, cattle diseases

LSU AgCenter scientists Lane Foil and Claudia Husseneder have been awarded a three-year $490,000 grant to study two insect-borne diseases that affect deer and cattle. The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant will fund the project, which is a study of the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus and bluetongue virus transmission in cervid (members of the deer, moose, elk family) and cattle populations. The grant includes support from the National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Both viruses cause what commonly is referred to as hemorrhagic disease. The only insects known to transmit the diseases are biting midge species. Infected deer suffer hemorrhages in multiple organs and typically die. “Survivors develop immunity that lasts for several years depending upon subsequent exposure, and fawns of surviving does can receive protective antibodies in colostrum,” Foil said. Symptoms are less severe in cattle and include a crusty, peeling muzzle; sores and ulcers in the mouth; stiffness; lameness; and loss of appetite.

Kurt Guidry new head for Southwest Region

Kurt Guidry, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, is the new regional director for the LSU AgCenter Southwest Region. He replaces Steve Linscombe, who retired. The Southwest Region includes 14 parishes and three research stations. Guidry has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a master’s degree in agricultural economics from LSU and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University. Guidry started his career with the AgCenter in 1993 as a county agent in St. Landry Parish. He left to pursue his doctorate in 1994 and returned to the AgCenter in 1997. He has moved through the professorial ranks in his department and was named the Gilbert Durbin Professor of Agricultural Economics in 2008. “I have a deep appreciation for the level and importance of the work that is being done by the research stations as well as by our extension faculty in the region,” Guidry said. “I will work with our faculty and clientele groups to ensure we continue to effectively and adequately address the needs of the region.” Guidry’s office will be at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station in Crowley. He grew up about 15 minutes from the station. “This is very much a homecoming for me,” Guidry said.

Giant salvinia control guide now online

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LSU entomology master’s student Lori Moshman displays a handful of giant salvinia during an LSU AgCenter workshop on using salvinia weevils to control the invasive aquatic weed. The AgCenter has a new resource to help educate the public about giant salvinia. The website,, looks at the problem of salvinia and control methods. Images and maps show how the aquatic plant has spread across Louisiana waterways. Giant salvinia is a free-floating fern native to southeastern Brazil. LSU AgCenter entomologist Rodrigo Diaz said it creates dense mats of weeds on lakes, ponds and reservoirs throughout the southeastern United States. The thick mats prevent sunlight from reaching the water column and suppress native vegetation while affecting fish, waterfowl and other species in the area. “The purpose of the website is to have a central hub for information about giant salvinia,” Diaz said. “We have compiled practical information about the biological control program of giant salvinia in Louisiana.”

New officers elected for 4-H

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Executive board members serving the Louisiana Association of Extension 4-H Agents for 2017-18 are treasurer Brittany Bourg, of Cameron Parish; president-elect Kim Jones, state 4-H instructor; past president Amy Long-Pierre, of St. Tammany Parish; president Esther Boe, of Avoyelles Parish; reporter Lanette Hebert, southwest region 4-H coordinator; and secretary Hannah Duvall, of St. Martin Parish. Katherine Pace, of Caddo Parish, not pictured, is vice-president.

Seven receive top 4-H awards

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LSU AgCenter Associate Vice President for Youth Development Mark Tassin (far left) and AgCenter Youth Development Department Head Janet Fox (far right) presented outstanding service awards to members of the Louisiana Association of Extension 4-H Agents at the annual meeting in August. The recipients, starting second from left, were AgCenter extension agents Chris Pearce, of Sabine Parish; Hannah Duvall, of St. Martin Parish; Beth Putnam, of Washington Parish; Ashley Powell, of Catahoula Parish; and Jeannie Crnkovic, of Bossier Parish. Pearce, Duvall and Putnam received the Achievement in Service Award. Distinguished Service Awards went to Powell and Jennifer Ducote, of St. Mary Parish, not pictured, and Silas Cecil, of LaSalle Parish, also not pictured. Crnkovic received the Meritorious Service Award, which is presented to one member per year selected from previously recognized Distinguished Service Award recipients.

Researchers study cover crop use with energy cane, sweet sorghum

A team of LSU AgCenter researchers has been awarded a $387,000 grant to evaluate the feedstock potential of energy cane and sweet sorghum with when grown with winter cover crops. The grant came through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which is an agency with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The lead scientist is Brenda Tubaña, associate professor in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences. Energy cane, which is closely related to sugarcane, and sweet sorghum are grown for their biomass, which is used in the production of biofuels and bio-based products. Consequently, the entire plant is removed from the field at harvest, leaving no leaves or other plant materials behind to replenish the soil. Tubaña and her team will plant winter cover crops with energy cane and sweet sorghum to protect the bare soil and maintain soil health.

New website focuses on Roseau cane die-off

The LSU AgCenter has developed a new website to help monitor the spread of a small insect associated with the recent die-offs of large areas of Roseau cane, a situation that threatens Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. The website — the — includes a map showing locations where the insect, Phragmites scale, shown above on a Roseau cane stalk, has been found. So far, it is in 13 parishes, as far west as Vermilion Parish and as far north as East Baton Rouge and Tangipahoa parishes. It was first detected last year in southern Plaquemines Parish in the marsh along the Mississippi River, but analysis of satellite imagery by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggests die-offs may have begun earlier than 2016. Scientists fear the Roseau cane die-offs could mean the loss of large swaths of marsh because the vegetation’s roots hold the fragile wetlands soil and protect inland areas from storm damage. In addition, the maritime industry is concerned the loss of Roseau cane will cause the Mississippi River channel to fill with silt, creating a problem for large, deep-draft ships that load and unload through the Port of Orleans. Oil and gas infrastructure in the affected marshes could also be vulnerable.

1/18/2018 9:04:02 PM
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