Battelle study finds state Extension and Experiment Station services beneficial

An outside research company, Battelle Technology Partnership Practice and BioDimensions, has released a report detailing the impact of Extension and research programs in the Southern Region. The report, located at the LSU AgCenter website, highlights all of the various facets of Extension and research for agbioscience, including those not directly related to pest management. However, I wanted to highlight key findings in the report with regard to pest management specifically.

According to the report, new diseases and pests are evolving resistance to chemicals and some cultural practices. With the changing climate and market demands and preferences, growers need a system to predict issues and needs and proactively work to develop new crop varieties, forage varieties, diagnostic tools, treatment chemistries, livestock therapeutics, and specific strategies to keep the region at the leading edge of productivity despite its challenges.

“Without this support system, the region’s producers would have to rely on commercial research and the research of out-of-region universities–research that would not be specific and customized to specialized regional characteristics (and therefore likely not as effective), and would have limited, unbiased assistance in translating research findings, disseminating, or assisting in adopting these findings to their benefits.” Battelle report, page 38.

The Southern Region has as many as 880,000 farms, many of them small farms, which rely extensively on the knowledge and information disseminated by the Extension Service and Experiment Station System.

The section of the report dedicated to pest management focuses mainly on plant breeding but mentions a few case studies of effective relationships between farmers and Extension and researchers. Case studies include:

  • Rice breeding and research at the University of Arkansas, where scientists support a $1 billion industry in that state. Arkansas is the leading producer and processor of rice in the United States.
  • A study of the timing of cattle removal from wheat pastures in Oklahoma, saving farmers from yield losses because cattle removal gives the plant time to heal prior to the reproductive growth stage.
  • An integrated weed strategy proposed in Georgia is saving cotton producers from losing yield to pigweed infestation. Extension agents recommended a strategy of diversification rather than reliance on one strategy (chemical).
  • The Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium, a regional collaboration among NC State University, Clemson University, the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and the University of Arkansas is leading research and extension efforts in berries and grapes. Income generated from small fruits production in the South has increased over 300 percent in the last decade, and in 2011 generated $99 million.

Read the Report


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