By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaA pregnant woman walks down the street of a large city. She doesn’t know it, but the air she’s breathing could be hurting her unborn baby.From recent studies in many countries, scientists suspect a relationship between exposure to air pollution and health problems like preterm births, low birth weights, poor fetal development and mortality, said Luke Naeher, an environmental epidemiologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.The questionScientists know the air pollution in large cities can aggravate or cause health problems in children and adults. But how can it affect a baby inside a mother’s womb?Naeher wants to answer this question.In the summer of 2002, Naeher studied the personal air pollution exposure of 45 pregnant women in Trujillo, Peru. His co-investigator was Manuel Aguilar Villalobos, director of the Asociacion de Aire Ambient in Lima, Peru.Based on this research, the American Chemistry Council has awarded Naeher a $100,000 grant to expand his research in Trujillo.Naeher will measure the personal pollution exposure of 100 pregnant Trujillo women (50 from urban and 50 from rural areas) during their pregnancies.He and his team will measure air pollution levels inside the homes of the pregnant women and at one urban and one rural site. The team will collect blood and urine samples from the women during their pregnancies and postdeliveries. And they’ll collect samples of meconium, a baby’s first feces, and umbilical cord blood from the newborns.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will analyze the samples. “This study will help us understand the magnitude and potential impact of prenatal exposure to a range of environmental pollutants,” Naeher said.Peruvian problemTrujillo is a city of about 750,000 people in a developing country. It has higher levels of air pollution than most U.S. cities. Peruvian standards and regulations on vehicle emissions, the leading cause of air pollution, are weakly enforced. And they’re 30 years behind those in the United States, he said.In many cases, homes in Trujillo offer no escape from air pollution. Many people there use wood or kerosene stoves to heat and cook inside homes with little ventilation.“The indoor environment smoke exposure generated from these stoves is orders of magnitude higher than levels typically seen in U.S. homes,” he said.Naeher hopes the study will lead to simple economical and cultural changes that can reduce air pollution and protect the population of Trujillo.The data, he said, can be used to understand the effects of air pollution on pregnant women and unborn babies in the United States and other countries, too.
Month: January 2021
Kudzu is common throughout the South and seems unstoppable. But it has an Achilles heel: The soft crown where it emerges from the ground. On the Aug. 19 episode of “Gardening in Georgia with Walter Reeves,” Reeves shows guest Katie Leslie how easy it is to find and destroy the crown.”Gardening in Georgia” airs on Georgia Public Broadcasting stations across the state each Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and repeats Wednesdays at 7 p.m. However, it will not be shown at its regular time on Aug. 15. So don’t miss the Wednesday, Aug. 19 only showing of this episode.They’re unlike any other creature you find in a garden. The bright yellow larvae of the Mexican bean beetle eat the leaves of beans and squash. Reeves will demonstrate how to control this ravenous pest.As summer thunderstorms hit, they can leave death and destruction in your landscape. Hank Bruno of Callaway Gardens will teach Reeves how to protect two white oak trees after they were hit by lightening. The pure white blooms are gorgeous in summer evenings and the scent is irresistible. Moon vine has been a Reeves’ favorite for a long time. Find out more about this Southern favorite. And, carnivorous plants have a certain macabre attraction. Erin Alvarez shows Reeves how to repot these interesting plants.“Gardening in Georgia” is produced by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Learn more about the show and download useful publications at the Web site www.gardeningingeorgia.com.
Tropical Storm Ida brought more wet days to Georgia in November, setting rainfall records in what is normally a dry month. Rainfall across most of the state was well above normal, according to radar estimates, particularly due to Ida’s heavy rains on Nov. 10. Many areas north of the fall line from Columbus to Augusta received more than 5 inches of rain. Southern Georgia, particularly the southeastern section, received below-normal rainfall, with the lowest values occurring near Brunswick. The highest monthly total from National Weather Service reporting stations was 6.75 inches in Columbus (2.78 inches above normal). The lowest was in Brunswick at .71 inch (1.78 inches below normal). Atlanta received 5.75 inches (1.65 inches above normal), Macon 3.87 inches (.67 inch above normal), Athens 5.17 inches (1.46 inches above normal), Augusta 5.61 inches (2.93 inches above normal), Savannah 2.31 inches (.09 inch below normal) and Alma 1.41 inches (1.16 inches below normal). Many stations within the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network also reported wet conditions for the month. The highest monthly totals of 10.80 inches and 10.46 inches were both reported in Rabun County in far northeast Georgia. On Nov. 11 with the passage of Ida, the highest one-day reports of 6.09 inches and 6.10 inches came from two observers in Monroe County in central Georgia.The Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring sites at Tiger in Rabun County and at Gainesville in Hall County both reported 7.89 inches for the month.Daily record maximum rainfalls occurred Nov. 10 with Ida. At official NWS airport stations, Atlanta broke a daily maximum rainfall with an observation of 4.05 inches. Athens received 1.94 inches. Columbus received 5.44 inches, and Macon received 2.53 inches during this storm Nov.12. Alma also reported a daily record rainfall of .92 inches Nov. 22.Because of the unusually high rainfall in September, October and November, Athens, Atlanta, Macon and Columbus airports set their records for the wettest fall seasons ever recorded. Athens reported 24.13 inches, Atlanta 23.31 inches, Columbus 18.43 inches and Macon 20.94 inches during the three-month period.Temperatures across the state were near normal. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 53.8 degrees F (.4 degree above normal), in Athens 54.8 degrees (2.1 degrees above normal), Columbus 55.4 degrees (1.3 degrees below normal), Macon 55.6 degrees (.5 degree above normal), Savannah 59.4 degrees (.7 degree above normal), Brunswick 61.7 degrees (.1 degree above normal), Alma 58.3 degrees (2.4 degrees below normal) and Augusta 55.7 degree (1.2 degrees above normal). No temperature records were set in November.Most of the state had not yet experienced a killing freeze, or temperatures below 28 degrees, by the end of the month.Georgians did not experience any severe weather in November.The Department of Natural Resources reported there are more black bears roaming Georgia this year due to both the large acorn crop caused by drought-stressed oak trees in 2008 and the rainy conditions this year, which provided ample vegetation to fatten the bears up. They are predicting a record bear hunting season due to the increase in size and number of bears.During November, the rains in northern Georgia due to Ida caused problems for farmers trying to harvest hay and other crops. Some grub infestations were reported. In the first and third weeks, dry conditions allowed good progress to be made on harvesting of peanuts, soybeans and cotton. Rain showers benefited the planting of small grains.
The Southeast Chapter of the American Bamboo Society will host its annual meeting and grove cleanup at the University of Georgia Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens Saturday, Feb. 13 in Savannah, Ga.The event begins at 8:30 a.m. and is free and open to the public. The historic bamboo groves on the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences site will be used as a demonstration venue to show how to properly maintain and care for a bamboo grove.Participants can take home bamboo poles that are cut during the day’s grooming event. A live plant auction and a general SCABS membership meeting will also be held.For more information, contact Tracy Cato at (706) 255-4901 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For directions, see the farm’s Web site at www.bamboo.caes.uga.edu.
Commercial landscapers, and novices, too, will learn how to add color to landscapes at the All About Color workshop set for Friday, Nov. 11 on the University of Georgia campus in Griffin, Ga.The class will meet from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the UGA Research and Education Garden on Ellis Road. The cost of the program is $50 and includes program materials, lunch and refreshments. Participants will learn how to use annuals, perennials, shrubs and woody ornamentals to emphasize color in landscapes. Container combos and plant recommendations will also be covered. Weed identification and control will be discussed, as will cultural practices that ensure plant health.Pesticide credits in category 21 and 24 have been applied for. The workshop is sponsored by the UGA Horticulture Department and the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture. For information or to register, call Val Schott at (770) 233-5598 weekdays between 1 and 5 p.m. or email email@example.com.
“The next step is to show that we can rapidly and consistently heal fractures in a large animal,” Peroni said. “Then to convert it to clinical cases in the UGA (College of Veterinary Medicine) clinics where clinicians treat animals with complex fractures all the time.” Once they get something that works for animals, it will be passed over to the DOD for human use.Peroni, who is chairman of the North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association, is hopeful this material will be promoted to the veterinary and human medical fields through the educational efforts of NAVRMA and the RBC. However, the RBC isn’t the only group working on a faster fix for broken bones. “Our approach is biological with the putty,” Stice said. “Other groups are looking at polymers and engineering approaches like implants and replacements which may eventually be combined with our approach. We are looking at other applications, too, using this gel, or putty, to improve spinal fusion outcomes.” One of the best hopes for the fracture putty is in possible facial cranial replacements, an injury often seen on the battlefield.The project ends in mid-2012. “By then we are to deliver the system to the DOD,” Stice said. Broken bones in humans and animals are painful and often take months to heal. Studies conducted in part by the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center researchers show promise to significantly shorten the healing time and revolutionize the course of fracture treatment.“Complex fractures are a major cause of amputation of limbs for U.S. military men and women,” said Steve Stice, an animal and dairy scientist in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center, or RBC. “For many young soldiers,” he said, “their mental health becomes a real issue when they are confined to a bed for three to six months after an injury. This discovery may allow them to be up and moving as fast as days afterwards.” Stice is working with Dr. John Peroni to develop a fast bone healing process. “This process addresses both human and veterinary orthopedic needs,” said Peroni, an associate professor of large animal surgery in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the RBC. Peroni and Stice are leading a large animal research project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The project includes scientists and surgeons from the Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University and the University of Texas, who conducted the early studies. Engineering new bone“Healing of critical-size defects is a major challenge to the orthopedic research community,” Peroni said. “Large-bone defects must be stabilized and necessitate technologies that induce rapid bone formation in order to replace the missing tissue and allow the individual to return to rapid function. To date, no single material can suffice.” The group they lead is a multidiscipline and multi-institutional group actively working on tissue engineering of bone. “Our group has been working productively together on numerous projects through the last several years,” Stice said, “So, a collegial relationship and successful collaborative working relationship is already established.”Between 2009 and 2011, the collaborations got a $1.4 million grant from the DOD for use of stem cells in fracture healing to be tested in sheep. “In our experiences with large animal models, following the guidelines established by our Animal Care and Use Committee,” Stice said, “we have been successful in formulating a product that contains mesenchymal stem cells and allows them to survive in the environment of the fracture long enough to elicit the rapid formation of new bone.”This year, the group showed bone can be generated in sheep in less than four weeks, which is a remarkable achievement in that the speed in which bone is formed is one of the truly unique features of this study.Fracture puttyThey used adult stem cells that produce a protein involved in bone healing and generation. Then incorporated them into a gel, combining the healing properties in something Stice calls “fracture putty.” With Peroni’s assistance, the Houston-based team used a stabilizing device and inserted putty into fractures in rats. Video of the healed animals at two weeks shows the rats running around and standing on their hind legs with no evidence of injury. The RBC researchers are testing the material in pigs and sheep, too.“The small-animal work has progressed, and we are making good progress in large animals,” he said. More work is needed to get to human medical trials, but the threat of losing federal funding for biomedical work through the DOD means they will have to find new ways to fund the project.Next steps
This week, the World Food Prize Foundation presented the Norman E. Borlaug Medallion to the U.S. Land-grant University System. Winning agriculture’s highest honor is welcomed validation for a century and a half of progress to educate working-class Americans and build the world’s most successful food production system. The Borlaug Medallion honors world leaders and organizations that have made an especially noteworthy contribution to increasing food availability in the world and ensuring adequate nutrition, but aren’t eligible for the World Food Prize. This is only the fourth time the medallion has been presented.Since President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862 creating public land-grant universities, the system has effectively changed the course of American society. The system’s scientists, scholars and public servants contributed to the growth of a dynamic, successful middle class that is the backbone of our workforce and future. The catalyst was equal access to higher education. Public universities, public goodA luxury once afforded only to the elite, land-grant universities opened doors of higher education and rolled out the welcome mat of economic prosperity to average citizens. Land-grant universities were established to direct federal and state funding to agriculture, engineering and mechanical arts education. We reap the benefits of that investment each time we put safe food on the dinner table, draw clean water from the tap and send our children to play in a healthy environment. Land-grant universities are vibrant centers of innovation and discovery that deliver life-enriching education to our states’ citizens. Over the past 150 years, LGUs introduced countless scientific discoveries that formed a strong infrastructure and propelled U.S. agriculture to the forefront of world food production. Because those discoveries came from government investment in public universities, they are a public good, equally accessible to all. Agriculture’s success is paying big dividends for the U.S. economy. Now one of the nation’s largest employers, U.S. agriculture has more than 2 million farmers and about 19 million workers in allied industries, generating a $1.8 billion U.S. foreign trade surplus.Laboratories and experiment stations at the state’s two land-grant universities – University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University – have produced vital advancements that help Georgia agriculture and our universities prosper. Among the innovations are new crop varieties, food safety technologies, irrigation techniques and environmentally sound pest control methods. Our scientists helped mechanize agricultural production, develop safer food preservation methods and define growing systems to protect and preserve resources.For almost a century, Cooperative Extension agents have delivered those discoveries to farmers who use them to produce our food and grow our economy. They helped farm families and communities grow stronger and more resilient, too. Many of our students say contact with their county agent or participation in Extension’s 4-H programs planted the seed of aspiration to seek higher education that led them to our door. Job growth outpaces student numbersInside our classrooms, students develop skills and gain knowledge that keep the agriculture industry moving. Each year, U.S. colleges of agriculture, life sciences, forestry and veterinary medicine graduate almost 30,000 students. Another 24,000 graduate in allied disciplines like biological sciences, engineering and health sciences. But, we still don’t have enough graduates to meet industry demand. A recent study by Purdue University and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture showed the U.S. economy could generate more than 54,000 job openings for college graduates in food, renewable energy and environmental specialties between 2010 and 2015 – 15 percent of them in agriculture and forestry production. That demands we increase the number of graduates in those areas by 5 percent. Graduates entering the workforce face a complicated global market that requires greater understanding of the world around us. Our students can gain a global perspective through unique international study and research opportunities. Often those students see the impact of decades of land-grant university work firsthand. Our institutions have worked in Africa since the 1960s helping struggling nations develop a sustainable food system. In Asia we’ve helped countries clean toxins from soil and learn to protect water. Over the past 20 years, our institutions helped Eastern Europeans reconstruct their agriculture industry. We extend our knowledge across the world because history proves there is no peace in a hungry world. Worldwide food security is a necessary building block to stability and prosperity for us all. Funding the futureOur greatest struggle at home is dwindling funds for our institutions. An exploding federal deficit caused stringent cutbacks in federal funds, especially for research and extension. At the same time, state governments struggling to meet budget demands made even deeper cuts. For some land-grant universities cuts totaled more than 50 percent over the past three years.These combined funding cuts left land-grant institutions with two options: raise tuition and look to industry for financial support. Neither is a popular choice. Needed basic research produced from our labs wouldn’t garner industry funding since there is little chance for economic profit. Industry funds only those projects that can have a positive impact on their bottom line. Yet, this basic research is vital to continued success in agriculture. Editorials maligning tuition hikes and burdensome student loans peppered newspapers nationwide this spring. According to the College Board, in the last academic year, the average in-state tuition at public schools was $8,244, compared to $28,500 at private schools. Considering 97 percent of this year’s University of Georgia freshmen were awarded HOPE scholarships, they pay only a fraction of that cost. Even at full-price, tuition for a UGA 4-year degree is just $7,000 more than the average new car. A degree will last a lifetime. A new car rarely does. Here’s the biggest question facing U.S. higher education: If governments can’t afford to fund public universities, students can’t afford tuition and corporations won’t fund unprofitable, but necessary basic research, then who will fund America’s public universities? Who will support critical research that keeps Americans fed?If we allow higher education to revert to private institutions, a 4-year degree will be financially out of reach for those LGUs were created to educate. Critical research will belong to corporations with no motivation to share findings that strengthen our food production system. It flies in the face of everything the Morrill Act was signed to do – help America’s middle-class attain higher education and build a strong research and training system to support economic growth in agriculture. When economic times are hard, tough budget decisions must be made at every level from the federal coffers to our own wallets. Where we choose to spend limited funds depends on what we value most. A safe, abundant food supply and a well-educated workforce should be high on America’s priority list. Land-grant universities have 150 years of evidence they’re sound investments that produce high-quality results and pay sizeable returns to the nation. That return is not only economic, but also affords most Americans peace of mind that our grocery stores are filled with the safest, most affordable food in the world. The 2012 Borlaug Medallion honors our success at building a reliable food supply at home and around the world. While debate about rising costs of public higher education swirls across the nation, the greater debate should be: Where would Americans be without it? J. Scott Angle is dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and chairman of the Board on Agriculture Assembly of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
AntsAnts like to use dry, undisturbed soil for their nests. If you’re seeing a lot of ants in you pile, it’s likely that the pile is too dry and that you’re not turning it enough. Compost piles work best when the entire pile is as damp as a wrung out sponge and should be turned at least once a week. Fly Larvae, fliesMaggots, politely known as fly larvae, are often a sign that your compost is too wet or contains too much kitchen waste. They won’t harm the compost. However, if they become a nuisance, gardeners should try covering their compost during rainy periods in an effort to keep the pile a little drier. Also, avoid “dump and run composting” to minimize the presence of flies. Whenever you add food scraps into your pile, be sure to bury them into the pile — don’t just dump it and leave it. CentipedesCentipedes usually appear in dry compost piles. They’re predators who feed on other insects in the pile. They are not a problem, but gardeners should keep an eye out because they can bite and sting if provoked. Mice and ratsMice and rats will visit your compost pile often if it’s a reliable source of kitchen scraps. If they become a problem, turn your pile more frequently and be sure to bury you food waste in the pile. If you continue to have a problem with mice and rats, you may want to stop adding food scraps to your pile for awhile, or use traps to control them. Rodent-resistant bins are available for those who continue to have problems with mice and rats. SnakesSnakes only hang around compost bins if their preferred food source — rats and mice — can be found nearby. If gardeners see snakes coming out of their compost bins, it’s a good sign that they have a rodent problem. Turning the compost more often should solve both problems. The bad guysThere are insects and animals that composters need to watch out for because they almost always indicate a problem with the compost bin. Possums and raccoonsPossums and raccoons are only after one thing: food scraps. Like with mice, turning the compost often and burying food scraps should cut down on nighttime visitors to the compost pile. However, some raccoons have been known to dig through a pile to find something that smells especially scrumptious. This is one reason why composters should avoid putting meat scraps in their piles. To further dissuade raccoons from digging through compost, gardeners can use an enclosed plastic compost bin or line the sides, bottom and tops of their bins with wire mesh. Keep a weighted lid on top of the pile if the raccoons in your neighborhood are particularly crafty. Gardeners are likely to see a whole community of living things in their compost piles — from millipedes and roaches to worms and small mammals. While most of this activity is natural and great for compost, some uninvited guests can indicate a problem with the compost pile.UGA Extension offers the Georgia Master Composter program, which suggests the following tips to guide gardeners through the complex ecosystem that is their backyard compost bin. This information is designed to help them identify potential composting pitfalls by keeping track of the bin’s residents. Most are good guysMost of the critters that gardeners see when they peer into their compost piles need to be there in order for compost to happen. Earthworms, white worms, sow bugs, pill bugs, millipedes, snails, slugs and mites all help break down the organic matter in the compost pile. They work with a web of microscopic organisms and fungi to turn garden and kitchen scraps into the black gold composters are after. Other insects and invertebrates are there to eat this all-star team of decomposers, and that’s OK too. Centipedes, springtails, beetles and other predators add nutrients to the pile in other ways and keep the primary decomposer populations in check. That said, when compost piles reach a certain stage in their decomposition, they become too hot to host many of these insects. So, an absence of insects is not necessarily a problem.
The addition of specialized agriscience and environmental systems courses — precision agriculture, sustainable agriculture and plant breeding/genetics — is expected to bolster already strong academic programs at the University of Georgia’s agriculture college.Beginning fall 2015, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) campuses in Athens and Tifton will offer advanced classes in precision agriculture, sustainable agriculture or plant breeding/genetics. The courses are designed to strengthen students’ knowledge in these areas, a need the college administration has noted in the industry.“The agricultural industry is demanding a higher level of specialization because generalized degrees and generalized knowledge can be farmed out to lower wage earners. In precision ag, they (employers) need someone who knows the intimate details of how precision ag works; not only how to install the equipment, but how to troubleshoot it, how the global positioning system works, how the programs work and how to fix problems when they go wrong,” Peake said.“The addition of these areas of emphasis will provide focus areas for students who want to specialize in some areas of agriculture that are in demand. These students can more readily demonstrate to potential employers unique skill sets not available from other higher education institutions in Georgia,” said William Vencill, a professor and undergraduate coordinator of teaching programs in the college’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.These areas of emphasis will allow students to specialize within a major. In the precision agriculture courses, students will learn about remote sensing by drones, yield monitoring and smart irrigation techniques, such as variable rate irrigation. “This is where having a land-grant institution, with research, Extension and teaching, all together really has a big impact. Dr. Vellidis isn’t a guy who uses a really good textbook, he’s the guy who writes the textbook. That’s the guy you want teaching these classes.” said Jason Peake, director of academic programs at UGA Tifton. Peake is referring to George Vellidis, a UGA ag engineer and precision agriculture expert, who will teach the precision agriculture courses. For more information about the UGA CAES academic program, go to students.caes.uga.edu.
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