Category Archives: Natural Resources

Sky is the limit for using drones in land management

Virginia Tech has another tool in its arsenal for managing land resources that can be used to do everything from inventorying forests and identifying land-use changes to assessing soil erosion and water runoff on agriculture lands.

What is this powerful tool? A 1.5-pound unmanned aircraft, or drone.

Adam Downing, Virginia Cooperative Extension forestry agent for the Northern District, is pictured with the eBee at Clermont Farm in Clarke County. Clermont will install a silvopasture demonstration and research project in collaboration with Virginia Tech. The eBee was used to establish detailed baseline land-cover data and historical resources.

Adam Downing, Virginia Cooperative Extension forestry agent for the Northern District, is pictured with the eBee at Clermont Farm in Clarke County. Clermont will install a silvopasture demonstration and research project in collaboration with Virginia Tech. The eBee was used to establish detailed baseline land-cover data and historical resources.

“Our drone, a fixed-wing eBee, carried two different sensors — true color and infrared — that gathered land-use and land-cover data to support inventory mapping,” said John McGee, professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension geospatial specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.

The eBee’s sensors capture data that will enable researchers to measure vegetative vigor — places in which chlorophyll activity differs drastically across the terrain. If the ground vegetation is stressed in a confined area, it might indicate that a structure, perhaps a foundation, is buried underground.

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Christmas Tree Primer: Cultural techniques and real-world experiences

Virginia Cooperative Extension will be holding a Christmas Tree Primer on March 31.christmas-tree-1828525_640

Attendees will get an overview of Christmas tree production techniques; identification and control methods for common Christmas tree pests and diseases; financing and market analysis; labor and liability issues; and grower experiences in Christmas tree production. Demonstrations and presentations will be given by industry professionals and Extension faculty.

The meeting will be held at the Warrenton-Fauquier Visitor Center located at 33 Calhoun Street, Warrenton, Virginia, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The cost to attend is $15 and includes lunch and materials. Participants may register by contacting the Virginia Cooperative Extension Culpeper Office at 540- 727-3435 or ashawn6@vt.edu

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Research aids in the fight against invasive species

From soybean fields to hemlocks forests, experts from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Virginia Cooperative Extension are developing ways to deal with and control the hitchhikers, interlopers, and otherwise nasty pests known as invasive species.

Jacob Barney, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, is just one of a team of faculty members studying invasive species and protecting Virginia producers from their destruction.

Jacob Barney, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, is just one of a team of faculty members studying invasive species and protecting Virginia producers from their destruction.

“The top 10 pests that we deal with now are non-native, and we spend lots of money to control them,” said Eric Day, an entomologist with Virginia Cooperative Extension and manager of the Insect Identification Lab in the Department of Entomology.

Meanwhile Assistant Professor Jacob Barney in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, collaboratively studies another invasive species — Johnsongrass — a weed that chokes out crops on farmland because of its fast-growing and extensive root structure.

Barney will study what makes Johnsongrass a globally successful weed and use the research to establish a model for studying other weeds and how to predict invasiveness.

Another most-wanted intruder, the brown marmorated stink bug, is an annoyance to homeowners, but the real problem is the millions of dollars in damage it causes to crops across the Mid-Atlantic region.

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Avoid spreading boxwood disease when decorating for the holidays

Dr. Hong inspecting a boxwood bush.

Chuanxue Hong, Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture, reminds people to be cautious when decorating with boxwoods this holiday season so they don’t spread the boxwood blight.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is cautioning the public to take measures to avoid spreading the devastating boxwood blight when decorating for the holidays this year.

Clippings in wreaths and garlands have the capacity to spread the disease, which could decimate English and American boxwood populations along the East Coast.

Researchers say that boxwood blight could threaten the plants in the same way that the chestnut blight destroyed trees in the 1930s.

“The boxwood is not just a plant. It’s part of Virginia’s cultural heritage,” said Chuanxue Hong, Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

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Extension helps keep family forests intact in Madison County and around the state

Of the 10 million acres of family-owned forestland in Virginia, more than 4 million acres of it is owned by people 65 years or older. About 80 percent of these landowners envision their woodlands staying intact, in forest, and in the family; but only 3 percent have taken active steps to ensure this will happen. There are many challenges when passing that land forward to the next generation.

Extension Agent Adam Downing (center) with a family from Orange with whom he did legacy planning.

Extension Agent Adam Downing (center) with a family from Orange with whom he did legacy planning.

To make that transition smoother, Virginia Cooperative Extension, in close partnership with the Virginia Department of Forestry, is helping families in Virginia take the next step in preparing to pass their land to members in the family by holding a series of legacy planning workshops.

Those who have gone through the classes in said they were big help in learning the importance of planning ahead to minimize financial costs and emotional challenges that come along with securing the legacy of their land.

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