Tag Archives: technology

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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Keeping the commonwealth informed

Gone are the days when residents had to visit their local Virginia Cooperative Extension office to obtain a copy of the latest publication. Today, the entire publication library is available at everyone’s fingertips on the VCE website. Although the mode and distribution method of these materials has evolved, VCE publications remain a popular go-to source for research-based information.

Today, VCE’s library comprises more than 3,000 publications on everything from growing apples to protecting groundwater. Last year the VCE publication website received more than 4.6 million page views, and more than 1.8 million VCE publications were downloaded.

Today, VCE’s library comprises more than 3,000 publications on everything from growing apples to protecting groundwater. Last year the VCE publication website received more than 4.6 million page views, and more than 1.8 million VCE publications were downloaded.

“Many things have changed over the years with Extension, but our publications continue to be very popular,” said Robert Grisso, associate director of agriculture and natural resources for VCE. “They are just one of the many ways that we provide the public with information to help them solve problems.”

Since its humble beginnings in 1914, Extension’s goal has remained consistent — to put knowledge into the hands of the community to better the livelihoods of its residents. Although the pioneer publications were crafted on typewriters, typeset, and printed on a press, their subjects were similar to what one might find today. Topics including improved agriculture practices, nutrition and health tips, food preparation, lawn and garden advice, and 4-H projects are all represented in both early and modern materials.

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Virginia Tech to host Precision Agriculture Day at Kentland Farm Oct. 12

Participants of Virginia Tech's Precision Agriculture Day will learn about the benefits of precision technology on Oct. 12 at Kentland Farm.

Participants of Virginia Tech’s Precision Agriculture Day will learn about the benefits of precision technology on Oct. 12 at Kentland Farm.

Virginia Tech will host Precision Agriculture Day on Oct. 12 at Kentland Farm in Blacksburg from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Participants will have the opportunity to get answers to common questions about the benefits of precision agriculture and learn how they can establish cost-effective technologies on their farms.

Precision agriculture is becoming increasingly utilized — and economical — in recent years as producers use technology, such as iPads, GPS, and variable rate equipment, to increase yields and inform management decisions.

Registration information for the event, which costs $10, can be found online. Kentland Farm is about eight minutes from the Virginia Tech campus at 5250 Whitethorne Road.

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Experience the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with virtual reality goggles at the state fair

Get a 360-degree look at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the Virginia State Fair.

Get a 360-degree look at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the Virginia State Fair.

Now you only have to go as far as your smart phone to be able to see all that the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has to offer.

A new series of virtual reality images immerses viewers in 360-degree scenes from around the college that highlight the research, education, and outreach that faculty, staff, and students undertake on a daily basis. The images can be found online and at this year’s State Fair of Virginia.

The photos range from graduate students working in a modern lab in the Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 to Virginia Cooperative Extension agents examining food safety issues and athletic trainers working with the football team in Lane Stadium during a football game.

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Virginia Tech eBee unmanned aircraft has endless applications for lands management

two white men standing in field.

Professor John McGee, right, discusses the unmanned aircraft flight with Robert Stieg, CEO of the Clermont Foundation, which operates the Clermont Farm property. The aircraft was operated by Daniel Cross, an employee of Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute who is a licensed pilot, in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations and other guidelines.

Virginia Tech has another tool in its arsenal for managing land resources, from inventorying forests and identifying land-use changes to assessing soil erosion and water runoff on agriculture lands. A small 1.5-pound unmanned aircraft, commonly called a drone, showcased its potential to collect data in early May, flying over Clermont Farm in Clarke County.

“Our unmanned aircraft, a fixed wing eBee, flew about 350 feet above Clermont Farm, a site that is a Virginia Department of Historic Resources operating farm,” said John McGee, professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension geospatial specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.

The unmanned aircraft’s sensors gathered information that will support future projects by supplying researchers with information about this cultural landscape.

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