By April Sorrow
University of Georgia
Due to a difficult budget period several years ago, operations were suspended at the Burke County center, said J. Scott Angle, dean and director of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
“Over a year ago we thought about closing this facility. I wanted facilities opened and serving the public or closed completely and sold,” Angle said. “We are reopening this facility and we are moving forward.”
A long list of city, county and state government officials attended the event. They stood next to a host of county agents, university faculty and facility staff. The group of more than 150 included farmers, industry representatives and others vested in the Midville center.
“If you had not stepped up as a community for this facility a year ago, we would not be open today,” Angle told the crowd. “You said you needed this facility and we are here to help you be successful. We work for you. We are your public servants.”
Local peanut and cotton farmer Ralph Sandeford told the crowd, growing up he would visit the center to learn about new crop varieties and pesticide management practices.
“This station was a way of life for us,” he said. “We can’t afford to try a lot of things with seeds and chemicals. We would come here and check on the experiments and learn what to use on our farms.”
“I want this to get back to a way of life for us,” he said, “back to depending on this station like I know we can.”
The facility currently has 13 scientists with 220-acres devoted to 31 different projects. Peanuts, soybeans, alfalfa, corn, cotton and biofuel crops are studied. Variety testing, pest management strategies, fertilizer application rates, seeding rates and disease management research programs are in place. Some of the tests could only be done in Midville.
“We have a specific problem we can only study here” (cylindrocladium black rot), said UGA researcher Bob Kemerait. “We are working on a new management strategy for Georgia. There is no other place this could take place.”
Kermerait is part of a team studying the effectiveness of spraying peanut fungicides at night.
“We are trying to help find answers to the problems you are having,” said team member John Beasley, a UGA Extension peanut agronomist. “The environmental part of a problem is so hard to control. We can have trials at other places, but we see differences at this location.”
The field day provided UGA scientists an outlet to share research-based information with members of the agriculture industry. Hubert Flonnory, a veteran farmer from Jefferson County, said he’s been coming to the field days at Midville for over 30 years.
“You get a lot of valuable information,” he said. “The updates are very important, looking at the new varieties, the seed rating – it was a very educational program.”
Floonory is a dryland soybean, corn and peanut farmer. “I’m glad they didn’t close this station,” he said. “The climate and soil is different from the stations at Tifton and Plains. This station is right in the heart of the Southeast.”
(April Sorrow is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Scientists.)
(April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)