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.
“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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Virginia Cooperative Extension will be holding a Christmas Tree Primer on March 31.
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 email@example.com
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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.
“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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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.
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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Registration is now open for the Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tours. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tours.
Combining education, networking, sightseeing, and good food, the Fall Forestry and WildlifeField Tours have provided the opportunity to learn about sustainable forestry management for 40 years and counting. This year’s tours, offered by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment in collaboration with Virginia’s natural resource agencies, companies, and associations, will start on Oct. 7.
The tours offer landowners, natural resource professionals, and other interested individuals the opportunity to spend a day in the field visiting a variety of properties that are actively managed. Participants will visit private, industry, and public lands that center on multiple-use management opportunities and practices. At each tour stop, participants meet with landowners to hear their stories, learn from their experiences, and even share a meal.
Complementing the 40th anniversary of the tours, the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program has recently created a series of videos highlighting the experiences of several participating landowners. In addition to the field tours, the award-winning program offers a number of training sessions and other resources throughout the year, including weekend retreats, short courses, online classes, and newsletters.
“We wanted to know if our programs were actually making a difference,” said Jennifer Gagnon, Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program coordinator.