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State of Success: Georgia

Nifa Author
Rachel Dotson, Public Affairs Specialist (Social Media)

To celebrate National Georgia Day on Aug. 3, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is highlighting the innovative NIFA-funded research conducted by the University of Georgia (UGA).

In the following interview with Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean, UGA Extension, get to know more about the state’s history, the agriculture challenges its working to combat and more!

Please provide some historical background on the founding of your agricultural experiment station.

USDA’s NIFA Alfalfa Seed and Alfalfa Forage Systems program help UGA researchers improve forage production and profitability for Southern livestock systems. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jennifer Tucker, UGA Dept. of Animal and Dairy Science.

USDA’s NIFA Alfalfa Seed and Alfalfa Forage Systems program help UGA researchers improve forage production and profitability for Southern livestock systems. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jennifer Tucker, UGA Dept. of Animal and Dairy Science.
USDA’s NIFA Alfalfa Seed and Alfalfa Forage Systems program help UGA researchers improve forage production and profitability for Southern livestock systems. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jennifer Tucker, UGA Dept. of Animal and Dairy Science.

The University of Georgia experiment stations support all types of research at many locations across the state. Departmental faculty and county Cooperative Extension agents use these facilities to conduct all types of research spanning from the very basic to the extremely applied. Many of these faculty have both research and Extension responsibilities, which allows for and fosters the complete integration of discovery and solutions, extending this vital information to the people of the state and nation so research discoveries are implemented and thus impact lives.

What are some of your agricultural experiments station’s most notable successes and innovations?

Because experiment station properties are located all across the state, experiments and projects customized to the environment, growing conditions and diverse locations across the state allow for specialized data that is specific to agriculture in that part of the state. Having the ability to test various crop varieties and livestock breeds in different environmental conditions allows for more precise recommendations to growers. Integrated commodity teams including both researchers and Extension specialists use the research findings generated on these experiment station facilities to make recommendations that are constantly improving yields and profitability for Georgia’s ag producers.

How does the NIFA-funded research conducted by your institution serve the citizens of your state?

Both capacity funding and NIFA’s competitive research funding are vital to the continued productivity of agriculture across the nation. The capacity funding along with state and local funding provides the base from which all research and Extension programs are built. Competitive funding allows for the targeting of more specific projects and issues that arise. This multi-faceted approach is vital to the long-term success of American agriculture.

What are some of the unique agricultural challenges of your state that you are working to address?

With an annual farm-gate value of about $1 billion, cotton is the number one row crop in the state of Georgia. Photo courtesy of Dr. Peng Chee, UGA Dept. of Crop and Soil Science.
With an annual farm-gate value of about $1 billion, cotton is the number one row crop in the state of Georgia. Photo courtesy of Dr. Peng Chee, UGA Dept. of Crop and Soil Science.

Georgia is a state blessed with fertile soils, a temperate climate and abundant natural resources to support a thriving agricultural industry. Of course, these conditions are also favorable to plant pests and diseases. As agricultural producers have to continually increase outputs, strive to protect the environment and be more sustainable, robust research discoveries coupled with adoption of new technologies and practices will be an ongoing challenge. Modern Land-grant Universities will have to strategically integrate teaching, research and Extension to stay ahead of these challenges.

Going forward, how do you see your NIFA-funded research addressing your state’s most pressing issues?

An organized program planning approach that identifies issues and provides funding opportunities in these critical areas allows for valid local needs assessments and targeted resources to be directed to the highest priorities. This grassroots approach to funding streams that target local needs is a great way to invest tax dollars in protecting the future of the domestic and global food supply, protecting the environment and strengthening the nation’s economy. A great recent example is the NIFA funding to support the Extension Council on Organization and Policy (ECOP) Program Action Teams.

 

Top photo: United States of America lights during night as it looks like from space. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

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Georgia
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