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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This cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata) may not be a state champion, but it has historical significance. Believed to have been planted in 1708, the tree stands on the grounds of the Violet Bank Museum in Colonial Heights, which served as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the siege of Petersburg in the Civil War.
The state’s big trees might seem even a little “bigger” on the Virginia Big Tree Program’s newly redesigned website.
“The website lists information about the largest trees in Virginia,” said Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture and a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. He serves as coordinator of the Virginia Big Tree Program.
“We hope this redesign will encourage even more individuals to use the website,” Wiseman said. “We aimed for a simpler, intuitive layout that will be easier to use on mobile devices.” He added that updating the website in time for Arbor Day, celebrated this year on April 29, seemed appropriate.
Virginia’s big trees are those that are the largest of their species, measured by height, trunk circumference, and crown spread. The website lists the five largest trees of more than 300 different species and includes photographs of the honored trees as well as their location, the names of the individuals who nominated them, and in some cases, the name of landowner.
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John Munsell (right) interviewed Cameroonian farmers about the benefits of integrating trees into their farms. The farmers included men and women in about equal numbers.
Nov. 15, 2014 – Agroforestry has been introduced in the African nation of Cameroon as a way to enhance agricultural productivity and financial gain, with a side effect of being good for the environment. It turns out that farmers value its environmental benefits foremost.
Associate Professor and Extension Specialist John Munsell conducted a study of Cameroonian farmers who have used agroforestry practices for at least three years. “I wanted to know whether and why they have adapted their practices, what their needs are for continuing, and the impacts of agroforestry farming at the village scale,” he said.
Agroforestry is the integration of tree crops into crop and livestock agricultural systems. Examples include using trees as “live fences” around production sites and as windbreaks, and growing crops in large alleys between rows of trees. Species that provide medicinal products, nuts, food, or livestock fodder often are used. Some tree varieties can increase soil nitrogen, and several provide pollen, enabling farmers to raise bees for honey.
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Members of the GeoTEd summer institute faculty cohort practice setting a compass bearing.
Nov. 15, 2014 – To meet the ever-increasing demand for geospatial technology professionals in the public and private sectors, the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program continues its effort to educate community college and high school faculty members in this evolving field of study. Participants in the regional Geospatial Technician Education (GeoTEd) program returned to Virginia Tech in June 2014 for the second of two summer institutes.
The weeklong program offers educators specialized training so that they can integrate geospatial technologies in the classroom, helping to prepare their students for careers in this rapidly growing profession. Faculty cohort members also participate in webinars throughout the year and receive three years of mentoring.
The institute expanded upon last summer’s curriculum, including instruction on crowdsourcing tools and ArcGIS Online. “This time around we focused more on Lidar and multispectral remote sensing tools and techniques than we did last year,” said Associate Professor John McGee, who heads the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program. The institute also drew some top-notch instructors. “We were excited to have Ann Johnson and Rodney Jackson of the National Center of Excellence for Geospatial Technology and Charlie Fitzpatrick of industry leader Esri on hand to teach several sessions,” he added.
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