Published on 08/18/99

UGA Exhibits Breadth of Agriculture at Ag Showcase '99

showcase99.gif (17041 bytes) If "40 acres and a mule" come to mind when you think of agriculture, check out the Envirotron corner of Ag Showcase '99 Sept. 9 in Fort Valley, Ga.

Agriculture today is more than mules -- even more than the machinery lumbering over Georgia fields. The Showcase will display the precision of science and satellites in dozens of exhibits by the state's agriculture schools.

The one-day Showcase focuses on "Fields of the Future." Fort Valley State University, the University of Georgia and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College are cosponsors.

This year's Showcase is the fourth since 1996. The UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences hosted the first three at its Tifton and Griffin campuses.

See Georgia Envirotron Exhibit

One of the many UGA exhibits this year will show off the Georgia Envirotron, a unique facility on the CAES Griffin campus.

"Our booth will show examples of our research and equipment," said Envirotron Manager Ian Flitcroft. "A variety of studies are taking place at the Envirotron in the controlled environmental conditions of the growth chambers."

Enviro.jpg (51667 bytes)
Photo: Ruth Jarret

This tiny "field of the future" may not grow much corn, but it will yield valuable information. One of the movable growth chambers of the , the facility enables University of Georgia scientists to study environmental interactions they could never measure in an ordinary corn field. A display of the Envirotron's research and equipment will be among the many exhibits at Ag Showcase '99 Sept. 9 in Fort Valley, Ga.

Researchers study plants from many directions. The Envirotron's facilities help them work together to find the effects of many environmental stresses on plants. The Showcase display will reveal some of the ways they do that.

It will include peanut and turf plants in growth chambers. Some of the plants will have observation tubes installed. Through the tubes, scientists look at the roots and pods growing below the soil surface with a minirhizotron imaging system.

The exhibit will also have an apparatus designed to measure the carbon dioxide plants are taking up through photosynthesis and releasing through respiration.

Other Exhibits Show Off Agriculture

And the Envirotron is just the beginning. Another display shows how the CAES brings the advantages of high-tech science close to home.

The Dis tance Diagnostics through Digital Imaging display will have an imaging station like those in 94 Georgia Extension Service county offices.

Visitors will see how extension agents use digital cameras, microscopes and image-capture devices to put pictures into the computer. They'll learn how valuable the DDDI system's rapid evaluation of pest and disease problems has already been.

Another display will show the UGA Automated Environmental Monitoring Network. Visitors can see how weather data from the network can be used to build computer models for farm and environmental management.

Yet another exhibit will describe farming's global nature. It will have information on research priorities, studies abroad, a new Peace Corps Master's International program and other international activities in the CAES.

Many of the CAES exhibits will bring out important facets of modern farming. They will show, for instance, how farmers use Integrated Pest Management in Georgia cotton fields, nutrient management systems in poultry houses and modern technology in catfish ponds.

Some Exhibits Hit Close to Home

But don't think the UGA exhibits are only about farming and miraculous sciences. Many are for people who don't think they have any connection to agriculture.

* See how Georgia Master Gardeners help county agents handle requests about home landscapes and gardening.

* Learn about the largest resident environmental education program in the nation. (It serves 35,000 to 40,000 grade-school students each year.)

* Find out how CAES scientists show public schools how to safely manage insect pests.

* Check out a display of fire ants and learn how to keep your yard all but free of these troublesome pests.

* Discover how CAES scientists are helping restore the state's quail population.

Whether you farm for a living or garden for smaller rewards -- or simply have kids in school -- the CAES exhibits at Ag Showcase '99 have something for you.

On the campus of Fort Valley State, the event will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. To learn more about it, contact your county Extension Service office. Or call (912) 825-6345.

Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.