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U 1C53 GA hosts sustainable agriculture workshop on June 25 in Watkinsville By Merritt Melancon

Research faculty and UGA Cooperative Extension specialists with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are hosting a sustainable agriculture field day 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 25 at the J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center in Watkinsville, Georgia.

Researchers will discuss the latest findings for corn and forage production practices to help increase profitability and decrease environmental impacts. These findings include a new living mulch system for corn, new forage varieties, cover crops to supply nitrogen and information on some of the equipment used to manage the farm.

Farmers and those interested in conservation land management should plan to attend.

“The Campbell (center) has a lot of interesting research going on to help farmers be more productive and profitable,” said Julia Gaskin, sustainable agriculture coordinator for UGA. “Many of these approaches are also better for the environment. It’s nice to be able to highlight research that has the potential to be a win-win solution.”

Registration will be free and participants can register on-site. Parking will be available at the Oconee County Civic Center, 2661 Hog Mountain Road in Watkinsville. Shuttles will transport participants to and from the J. Phil Campbell center’s west unit field site every 10 minutes.

The field day features eight stations, including:

  • Living Mulch and Corn: UGA’s pioneering living mulch system will be showcased with sweet corn and field corn. The living mulch concept uses a perennial legume to provide weed control and nitrogen fertilizer to row crops. Its success depends on row width, crop population density and the amount of clover killed. These plots demonstrate how last year’s management is affecting this year’s crop.
  • Soil Erosion and Water Quality in Corn Systems: Use of the living mulch system in a corn crop is expected to reduce soil erosion and the amount of nutrients lost. Researchers are comparing runoff and nutrient loss in the living mulch and conventional corn production systems.
  • Corn/Clover System Water Quality and Use: Corn can be a “leaky” production system, where fertilizer nutrients are lost to groundwater. Researchers will share what they’ve found about how a living mulch system reduces nutrient loss and possibly conserves soil moisture.
  • New Equipment: Farm manager Eric Elsner will give visitors a rundown on the equipment used to manage the farm, including no-till planters and drills, an over-the-row hooded sprayer and a hay unroller.
  • The Forage Garden: Learn about Georgia forages by a touring a garden that includes forages used extensively in Georgia for pasture, hay and silage production, as well as some novel forage species and varieties.
  • Forage Variety Development: UGA forage breeders will explain what traits they are breeding for when developing varieties suitable for conditions in Georgia and the Southeast.
  • Nitrogen Release from Cover Crops/Organic Grain Corn: Researchers will discuss a new Nitrogen Availability Calculator that is available to predict a nitrogen credit from cover crops, and will discuss how this can be used in U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service programs. They will also discuss growing organic corn.
  • Soil Microorganisms and Soil Inoculants: Can locally produced microbes enhance forage growth or legume productivity? Researchers are evaluating the use of inoculates in forages fertilized with swine manure and in legumes fertilized with composted broiler litter.

For more information, check the UGA Sustainable Agriculture website at sustainagga.org or email Julia Gaskin at jgaskin@uga.edu.

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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