There are a myriad of resources available to you, many of which you may not even be aware. We hope to simplify your search for answers through the use of this blog site.
The first resources of which you should be aware are the Virginia Cooperative Extension county offices. This should be your first stop when you have a question about agriculture or natural resources. Each county in Virginia has a Virginia Cooperative Extension office which houses a variety of agents and information, not just agriculture. You may find yourself looking for different types of information your local office has to offer. To find your local county office, check out this website.
Within each county office, there may be several agents, each with a different area of interest and expertise. Some of these agents include 4-H, Family & Consumer Sciences, Food Safety, Food & Nutrition, Local Foods, Forestry, and Agriculture & Natural Resources. Each office will have a different break down of agents based on a number of factors such as funding availability, county needs, population, etc. This blog site is dedicated the work of the Agriculture & Natural Resources (ANR) agents but often information and issues may crossover into other areas. Each ANR agent has a different background, areas of expertise, and needs in their county, so programs can differ widely. To have a better idea of what agriculture & natural resources related programs are generally available in your county, check out your local office’s unit website by clicking on the respective link below or in the left sidebar. Keep in mind, some of these are updated more frequently than others.
Amelia; Appomattox; Bedford; Brunswick; Buckingham; Campbell; Charlotte; Chesterfield; Cumberland; Dinwiddie; Fluvanna; Franklin; Goochland; Greensville/Emporia; Halifax; Lunenburg; Mecklenburg; Nottoway; Pittsylvania; Powhatan; Prince Edward
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Website
Another excellent resource available to you is the VCE website. This site provides lots of publications and resources on a variety of topics.
College & Department Websites
The College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
The College of Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS) houses Virginia Cooperative Extension. The CALS website is a great place to check out the majors and minors the department has to offer as well as current research and extension efforts, particularly in ANR. The scrolling pictures at the top of the page offer a snapshot of current features on research, education, and extension efforts by CALS students, faculty, and staff.
Departments within the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences include the following:
- Agriculture & Applied Economics
- Agricultural & Extension Education
- Agriculture Technology Program
- Animal & Poultry Sciences
- Biological Systems Engineering
- Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences
- Dairy Science
- Food Science & Technology
- Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
- Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science
To learn more about these departments, check out their websites by clicking on the department name.
The College of Natural Resources & Environment
The College of Natural Resources & Environment (CNRE) is another great resource, particularly for natural resources-related questions. The CNRE website, like the CALS website can provide insight into current education, research, and extension efforts, as well as information on the departments within the college.
Departments within CNRE include:
- Sustainable Biomaterials
- Fish & Wildlife Conservation
- Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
Other Colleges at Virginia Tech
One of the most popular resources available to Virginia residents is soil testing. Soil testing is a great tool for plant lovers whether they are backyard gardeners, lawn care professionals, golf course managers, or crop or livestock farmers. The Virginia Tech Soils Testing Lab allows for convenient and accurate soil analysis of key macro and micro nutrients which allows plant enthusiasts and producers to understand what nutrients they have available in their soil, what nutrients are needed, and help pinpoint why they may be seeing certain symptoms in their plants.
There are five different soil test submission forms, each for a different type of soil use: Home Lawns, Gardens, Fruits & Ornamentals; Golf Courses & Industrial Lawns; Surface-Mined Areas (for crop production); Commercial Crop Production (including pasture); and Commercial Greenhouse & Nursery Production. A separate form has to be submitted with every sample. The forms are available at your local extension office or via the soil lab website (links below). The .pdf files available online may save you a great deal of writing if you are submitting multiple sample. Information that is the same for every sample can be typed onto the forms before printing and then individual information (such as sample identification numbers) added separately.
- Home Lawns, Gardens, Fruits, and Ornamentals
- Golf Courses & Industrial Lawns
- Surfaced-Mined Areas
- Commercial Crop Production
- Commercial Greenhouse & Nursery Production
Testing prices vary, although a general rule of thumb is routine tests are $10 per sample with the exception of commercial farm tests which are free of charge. See the Fees & Forms page for complete pricing information. Soil boxes can be picked up at your local extension office and filled boxes can be mailed to the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Lab at 145 Smyth Hall (MC 0465), 185 Ag Quad Ln, Blacksburg VA 24061.
To learn how to take a soil sample, view the sampling instructions here or ask for assistance from your local extension agent. When you receive your test results, the paperwork may say, “See Note #” in the top right corner. These “Notes” are publications that further explain the recommendations; they can be viewed on the soil lab website. *Notice that there are separate Homeowner & Commercial columns to click on.
eXtension (e-extension) is a website that compiles publications and expertise from universities around the country. This site is open to extension professionals as well as the general public across the nation and aims to connect you to the answers you seek. Learn more about this site in the About Us section of the eXtension website.
Other Universities and Extension Sites
Land-grant universities around the nation have their own version of cooperative extension. These too are excellent places to search for publications and research information! Keep in mind that climate and other conditions may play a role in how well research from other areas can be applied here, but do not discount the usefulness of extension publications from other universities; these are great resources as well!
A few surrounding states extension sites are:
A great way to search for publications from universities on the web is to type in the words you would like to search into any search engine, followed by site:edu. This will help refine your search to publications from university sites.
Many of the research and extension faculty at Virginia Tech have blogs like this one that you can follow. These blogs cover a variety of agriculture related topics. Some are highlighted in the sidebar to the left, the full list can be seen here.
With the growing use of social media, many agents have developed Facebook pages through which to share information with the public. In the left hand sidebar you will find a list of links to county Facebook pages.