Four University of Georgia Extension agents have been collectively awarded this year’s Urban Agriculture Education Award from the Georgia Urban Ag Council, a statewide association for professionals involved in all sectors of the urban agriculture industry. The award is typically given to one UGA Extension agent who developed and implemented an innovative and successful educational and applied research program to support the professionals in Georgia’s urban agriculture industry. Together, the agents developed Green University, an annual program targeted at green industry professionals in northwest Georgia.Northwest Georgia agents working togetherAgents who planned the training event include Keith Mickler, agricultural and natural resources agent and county Extension coordinator in Floyd County; Rolando Orellana, agricultural and natural resources agent in north Fulton County; Paul Pugliese, agricultural and natural resources agent in Bartow County; and Mary Carol Sheffield, agriculture and natural resources and county Extension coordinator in Paulding County. The joint training venture was Sheffield’s idea. “I’ve been hosting green industry updates for several years in Paulding County, but we revamped as ‘Green University’ a few years ago to help give the training a clearer connection to UGA Extension and the university research behind the trainings,” she said.The agents decided to focus the training on pesticide safety, selection, handling and proper application after receiving numerous homeowner samples from within their respective counties indicating injury to landscapes by pesticide applications made by industry professionals. “Home landscapes are a valuable asset to home values, and homeowners don’t always understand the complexity of managing them. Urban ag professionals who invest the time to attend trainings are more able to help educate their clients on important management practices and are less likely to make mistakes or cause damage to homeowners’ landscapes,” Sheffield said. Teaching the proper way to use pesticidesThe Green University, held Jan. 15, 2014, focused on the effects of phenoxy herbicides (like 2,4-D) on trees and shrubs, detailed the potential for injury and highlighted possible liability should these herbicides be used incorrectly. “When it comes to weed control, green industry professionals get a lot of information from product marketing,” Sheffield said. “To make sure they know the latest research-based information, we taught them how to choose appropriate pesticides for turf weed management and to rotate active ingredient and pesticide classes to maximize weed control.”Thirty-one professionals from seven metro-Atlanta and northwest Georgia counties attended the training. Of those, 19 received Georgia commercial pesticide applicators’ continuing education credits, one received Alabama commercial pesticide applicators’ continuing education credits and nine received continuing education units for International Society of Arboriculture arborist certifications. Pre- and post-tests show the attendees are now better equipped to reduce injury to trees and shrubs from turf-applied herbicides, to reduce the potential for resistance in weeds through proper herbicide selection, to practice safe work habits and to use soil testing appropriately in northwest Georgia landscapes. Participant and certified arborist Randy Cooper admitted thinking pesticide damage from phenoxy chemicals was caused by aerial drift. “I did not consider that phenoxy chemicals could harm plants through root absorption. This class added to my knowledge and diagnostic skills as an arborist and a consultant. To me, this is Extension as it was intended to be,” he said. For information on trainings offered by your local UGA Extension office, call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
A newly published study led by researchers from the University of Georgia and several partner institutions reveals a discovery that could lead to new control strategies for a tiny-but-persistent agricultural pest that causes enormous soybean losses.Microscopic soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) Iive in soil and are attracted to the root systems of soybeans. Once a field is infested, it is nearly impossible to root them out, said lead study investigator Melissa Mitchum, professor of plant nematology in UGA’s Department of Plant Pathology and Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics (IPBGG) in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Center for Applied Genetic Technologies.Invisible to the naked eye, SCN have unique hollow, protrudable mouth spears — called stylets — that they use to pierce through the root of a plant, injecting peptide effectors, which mimic the soybean’s naturally present CLAVATA3/embryo surrounding region (CLE) peptides to hijack the plant.After hatching from an egg in the soil, the juvenile nematode migrates into the root, where it sets up a feeding site and makes its way toward the circulatory system that the plant uses to transport nutrients to the rest of the plant.Once a root cell is chosen for feeding, the nematodes transform it into a syncytium, a mass comprised of hundreds of metabolically active cells that continue to secrete CLE, taking over the plant’s natural cellular processes to export the peptides back out of the cell to function as external signaling molecules to distant cells.This process diverts resources away from the plant in support of the nutrient demands of the developing nematode. At this point, nematodes change their morphology, turning from wormlike forms into sedentary, lemon-shaped bodies that pop out of the roots, becoming visible to the eye.Study resultsUsing knowledge that has been developed over the past two decades on how nematode CLEs function, the study, published in the journal New Phytologist, uncovered a new pathway that allows the nematode to disrupt the plant’s natural growth processes to divert resources for its own benefit. The study was also highlighted in commentary by the editors of New Phytologist. “We’ve discovered that early on, when the nematode delivers the CLE peptide to a root cell, the peptide has to reach a plant receptor that binds it so that you get a response in the plant. We knew that the nematode delivered the peptide into the cytoplasm of the cell, but the receptor is on the outside of the cell,” Mitchum said.The study shows that the nematode CLEs provide a way for the nematode peptide to get outside of the cell to interact with the plant protein receptor through the plant’s secretion system, a process that is not well-studied in plants.“To me it is fascinating because the nematodes have discovered how to co-opt that part of the plant — its own secretion system — but we don’t understand the secretion system they are taking advantage of,” Mitchum said. “If we can understand how they are doing it, we will likely uncover some novel aspect of plant biology that could have importance to other plant pathosystems. This effector protein is helping us understand plant biology, not just plant pathology.”Normally occurring plant CLE peptides regulate aspects of cell differentiation in the plant, communicating to the plant’s stem cells, which are constantly regenerating, whether to develop into a root cell, a leaf cell or a cell in another part of the plant.“The peptides in the plant — and there are many types — tell the plant how to regulate its growth and development. These nematodes have found a way to trick the plant by secreting these similar peptides in the root cell to make a feeding site,” Mitchum said. “Now we want to determine how the nematode CLE peptide forms that feeding site. That is why it is such a successful parasite — it has evolved this peptide that looks like and functions like a plant peptide, so they can put it into the root cell where it does not normally occur and trick the plant into supporting the formation of a feeding cell for the nematode.”Developing new control strategiesThe next step is to find novel methods to block the nematode peptides from getting out of the feeding cells.“We are trying to figure out how these nematode peptides function because we want to devise a way to interfere with that ability. If we can block the nematode peptides from getting out of the feeding cells, they will not form properly, and the nematode loses its nutrient source and dies,” Mitchum said. “If we can stop the nematodes from making those peptides or keep them from interfering with the processes in the cell, we can engineer different methods of resistance. That is why we study at this detailed level.”Soybean cyst nematodes are the No. 1 yield-reducing pest of soybean producers, robbing seemingly healthy fields of up to 30% of their yields — and costing the industry up to $1 billion every year.The primary management practice for soybean cyst nematodes is through developing genetic resistance in soybean varieties. Because SCN has a specialized host range, producers can control nematode damage by rotating fields to a non-host crop plant to reduce the population of nematodes in the field. However, the bodies of dead female nematodes form a cyst around them, protecting hundreds of eggs. These cysts can remain in the ground for years, protecting the eggs until a host crop is planted again and the nematodes reemerge.A troubling trendWhile creating genetically resistant crops is a very effective tool, SCN have adapted to overcome the source of resistance in the commonly used breeding line PI 88788, which is used in more than 90% of resistant varieties currently planted by producers. As a result, yields in resistant varieties can be reduced by up to 14 bushels per acre, according to The SCN Coalition, a public/private partnership of university researchers, national extension specialists and agriculture company representatives who are concerned about the evolving threat from soybean cyst nematodes.“We need to bring awareness to the increased resistance of SCN to the (PI 88788) resistance and come up with novel approaches to combat it. Targeting the mechanism we have found in this study would be a novel way of addressing this resistance,” she said.Because the symptoms of SCN infestation are often not visible above ground, it is difficult to communicate the severity of the problem to producers and the importance of basic science research to combat it.“If farmers are repeatedly planting the same resistant varieties, which most of them are, and they don’t realize what is going on below ground, the nematodes eventually become resistant to the resistant varieties. Over the past 20 to 30 years, soybean cyst nematodes have shifted from being unable to reproduce in these varieties to nematode populations that are highly aggressive and population densities are going up,” Mitchum said. “The only way growers can know they have a problem is to send in a soil sample to a diagnostic lab. This usually only occurs if they see aboveground symptoms and want to know if they have an issue, but these nematodes can be causing yield loss in the absence of any aboveground symptoms.”Mitchum says there are multiple potential targets to engineer new SCN resistance through the pathway they’ve discovered. Consequently, Mitchum and colleagues have filed several patents related to the research described in this study.“In order to disrupt this target, we can modify the receptor in the plant to retain its function in plant growth and development, but so it does not recognize nematode CLEs; we can try to block the ability of the nematode peptide to be trafficked through the plant’s secretion system; or we can prevent the nematode from making and secreting CLEs,” she said. “There are multiple ways to engineer resistance through this one pathway. If we can knock out a receptor, we can reduce infection, but because the nematode is co-opting a normal growth and development pathway, we have to do it in a way that is not disrupting plant development. This is a highly evolved interaction and we have to be able to understand it to precisely tweak it. We have to do it in a very targeted and specific way.”Assessing the threatBecause soybean cyst nematodes are such a widespread pest, Mitchum and UGA Extension plant pathologist Bob Kemerait, with the help of county agents, will launch a statewide survey in 2021 of all soybean producing counties in Georgia to determine current SCN levels and whether SCN-resistant crops are suffering greater losses due to the nematode’s adaptations against resistant varieties.While Georgia is not a major producer of soybeans — with 100,000 acres planted in 2019 at a value of about $240,000— more than 80 million acres were planted nationwide in 2019, with a production value of $31.2 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service.“From a genetic standpoint, we are working with soybean breeders to diversify the germplasm and working with companies to get new SCN-resistant varieties out to producers while, in parallel, we are doing this kind of basic science research to understand the mechanisms used by the nematode to cause disease so we can interfere with them in a novel way,” Mitchum said.Zeroing in on the scienceBringing awareness to the importance of basic science and basic research is a message that needs to come through when discoveries like this are made, Mitchum said.“A lot of times the return on research investment is not as immediate or apparent as it is if you go out and do a field trial and get immediate results,” Mitchum said. “There has to be a balance — we need to invest in research that will have an immediate impact, but if we are going to come up with breakthrough technologies, it is going to be from an investment in this kind of long-term research.”Lead study author Jianying Wang was a former research associate in Mitchum’s lab. Research partners in the multi-institutional study included Richard S. Hussey, Emeritus Distinguished Research Professor of Nematology at CAES; and CAGT postdoctoral researcher Xunliang Liu; as well as colleagues from University of Missouri, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Iowa State University, North Carolina State University and Cornell University. Mitchum joined UGA in 2019 from University of Missouri’s Division of Plant Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center.Funding for this work was from the National Science Foundation and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.For more information on research being performed at CAES, visit caes.uga.edu/research.
Vermont-based Northern Power Systems, Inc., announced today that it has been commissioned to deliver an energy efficient, on-site power system to the One Market Street office complex in downtown San Francisco, owned by Equity Office Properties Trust (NYSE: EOP).Equity Office is the nation’s largest publicly held office building owner and manager with a portfolio of 767 buildings comprising 127.4 million square feet in 21 states and the District of Columbia. With 1.5 million square feet of commercial space occupying an entire city block, One Market is one of the premier office buildings in San Francisco’s financial district.When the 1.5 megawatt system is completed early next year, it will become what is believed to be the first commercial on-site electric power system to be fully interconnected with Pacific Gas & Electric’s downtown San Francisco electricity grid.The advanced cogeneration system consists of three natural gas-fired generators and a sophisticated heat recovery process, which converts waste heat from the generators and their exhausts into steam. The steam will be used to heat the building. Northern is providing overall system design, engineering and commissioning. Northern is also supplying the generators and an automated control system designed to maximize system efficiency.Northern believes that this will be the first cogeneration system to be interconnected to the downtown San Francisco utility grid in full compliance with the Pacific Gas & Electric’s Rule 21 Interconnection Standards. Running in parallel with the utility grid allows the system to meet as much of the building’s electricity demand as possible, while the utility meets any needs in excess of the system’s capacity. By running near full capacity, the system delivers maximum electrical efficiency. Northern’s integrated control system also maximizes utilization of the waste heat from the generators, further increasing overall system efficiency.The cogeneration system, scheduled for installation in February 2003, can deliver up to 30% of One Market’s electricity and 85% of its steam needs for its space heating system.Northern’s power system is also considered a “green” system. In recovering waste heat, the system’s overall fuel efficiency rises to approximately 60%, compared to typical efficiencies of 30% from utility-produced power. Doubling fuel efficiency can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40%. These higher fuel efficiencies also qualify Equity Office’s new system for an incentive rebate from the Self-Generation Incentive Program of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC). This program was established in 2001 to encourage on-site generation to reduce peak demand and avoid rolling blackouts such as those recently experienced by the state.”Equity Office is leading the commercial real estate market in actively implementing power solutions that make sense from a power security and from an environmental standpoint,” said Thomas Smith, Vice President of Energy Operations at Equity Office. “Teaming with Northern Power Systems to create this innovative approach to energy supply is fully consistent with our commitment to maintaining superior quality of service to our tenants, improving the efficiency of our systems, and lessening the impact of our operations on the environment.”Jito Coleman, president and CEO of Northern, stated, “We are fortunate to work with a company whose people recognize that power security and environmental benefit are not mutually exclusive. All of us at Northern are happy to help Equity Office reach its goals through the design and installation of this innovative and highly efficient cogeneration system.”
What impact could the oil spill have on fish and aquatic life in the French Broad?HC: Not sure. It will be very hard to know, because of all the other factors that come into play. How exactly will the oil be collected, treated, or dispersed?HC: Just the booms will try to soak up the remaining oil. How long does oil stay in the water? HC: Depends on how much oil and if the discharge continues. The French Broad Oil Spill two weeks ago has largely disappeared from the media, but its effects on drinking water and aquatic systems have not. Many questions remain unanswered, and little information has been released about the cleanup efforts.On Feb. 4, an oil spill leaked at least 1,000 gallons of petroleum in the French Broad River in Asheville, N.C. The week following the spill, health officials advised the public to stay out of river.The spill came from an above ground fuel storage tank on the property of Mountain Energy Bulk Fuel located near the River Arts District in Asheville, N.C. Brett Laverty, a hydrogeologist for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources, reported that the leak came from an extremely old tank and that the company plans to shut down this location.Mountain Energy contracted Mountain Environmental to clean the spill, according to Laura Leonard, spokeswoman with the North Carolina Division of Waste Management. Overseeing the cleanup was the Department of Environmental Quality. Laverty reported on Feb. 8, that the sheen that was present in the river at the inception of the spill, was no longer visible. He estimated that the majority of the spill had by that time washed downstream toward Tenn. and that officials at the water treatment center in Newport, Tenn. were made aware of the spill on the night it happened. Also on that day, 25 tons of contaminated soil were evacuated and removed. The following is an interview with Hartwell Carson, the French Broad Riverkeeper with MountainTrue. His answers speak to the progress and uncertainty of the spill. Who first reported the spill?HC: Not sure, but it was reported to the [Asheville] fire department. Is it true that oil in rivers sometimes sinks and persists?HC: Yes. It will sometimes sink into the sediment. What is the clean-up plan? HC: [Mountain Environment] has stopped the discharge, plugged the pipe where it was coming out, put out booms to soak up the fuel. How many other sources of oil, coal ash, or other toxic contaminants are in the floodplain of the French Broad River?HC: I am not sure, but I have requested a list from [Department of Environmental Quality] of every facility that has a stormwater permit. I don’t have that yet. Has Mountain Energy issued a statement or apologized for the spill?HC: I have not seen one if they did.
By Noelani Kirschner / ShareAmerica / Edited by Diálogo Staff March 27, 2020 A new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) details the gruesome conditions that gold miners in Venezuela are forced to endure.Twelve percent of Venezuela, a country rich in natural resources such as oil, diamonds and uranium, has gold and mineral deposits.In Venezuela’s southern Bolívar state, pro-Maduro civilian armed groups force miners to work, employing physical abuse and fear tactics to control gold production.The Maduro regime allows the groups using these tactics to oversee gold mining operations. According to the report, witnesses have reported seeing a top government official patrolling mines.HRW spent two years collecting testimonials from Venezuelan gold miners and people living in gold mining towns.According to the report, “many mines in Bolívar are under the tight control of Venezuelan syndicates or Colombian armed groups,” such as the guerrilla organization the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), and the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish).These armed groups enforce arbitrary “laws” to instill fear and keep order among mining communities. They accuse miners and innocent civilians of theft before publicly cutting off their fingers and hands, and, in extreme cases, executing them, according to witnesses interviewed for the report.There is no enforced judicial system to protect the victims.The gold mines, located in the southern part of the country, operate in close proximity to indigenous communities. As a result, indigenous people are often forced to work in the mines against their will.The working conditions of mines are hazardous. Toxic amounts of mercury are used to clean the gold ore, and there are little to no safety measures taken to prevent workplace injury.The report details how a 16-year-old boy sustained a spinal fracture from a falling log that hit him as he was using a high-pressure hose without any protective gear.Additionally, in testimony before the U.S. Congress on illicit mining in Venezuela, a U.S. State Department official reported that people in mining communities are “exploited in forced labor or sex trafficking, compelled through violence and fear by the group running the mine. There have been reports that in some regions, the average age of sex trafficking victims is 13–14 years old.”The HRW report says miners are forced to give up to 80 percent of their gold to the syndicates, and town residents must pay gold to armed groups to keep their businesses operational.The HRW report underscores the concerns voiced by Interim President and National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He requested that Venezuela’s allies stop purchasing Venezuelan gold until human rights abuses end.“The first thing to do is to stop the illegal traffic of gold,” Guaidó said, according to Reuters. “It’s blood gold.”
Writer: Chidiebere AnugwoluRelatedLagos International Badminton Classics: Chronicle Of Upsets In Day 2July 28, 2017In “Sports”Lagos International Badminton Classics Record Upset In Day OneJuly 27, 2017In “Competition”Indians And Sri Lankans Dominate Lagos International Badminton Classics 2017July 30, 2017In “Sports” The day three (3) of the 2017 Lagos International Badminton Classics has left delirious fans and Badminton enthusiasts at the edge of their seats and wanting more as it culminated to be the most exciting day yet for the four day international challenge at the Molade Okoya Indoor Sports Hall, Teslim Balogun, Surulere.Lagos and Nigeria’s remaining hopes in the men’s singles event, Anuoluwapo Opeyori, was eliminated in the quarter finals by arguably, the most impressive player thus far in the competition Chittaboboina.Like eating a biscuit and faltering in predicting where it cracks first, the third day witnessed by far the highest degree of upset after top seed in the men singles category and former winner, Misha Zilberman, was knocked out by tournament 4th seeded Egyptian and Anuoluwapo’s nightmare—Chittaboboina in a thrilling three set encounter(21-13, 22-24, 21-14) to reach this year’s final.Some of the biggest highlights in the women’s category saw Nigeria’s top seed and tournament’s 8th seed, Dorcas Adesokan knocked out by Mugdha Agrey of India; 21-10, 19-21, 21-12 in a keenly contested three games.Nigeria’s nearly dashing hopes in the competition bumped to live again in the female doubles and men doubles categories .In the men doubles, the duo of Anuoluwapo Opeyori and Godwin Olofua ran away in a rather emphatic fashion in two straight sets, thrashing their Egyptian opposition, Abdelhakim and Ahmed Salah 21-10, 21-16 to progress to the finals—an unprecedented feat for the duo.Also, in the female singles category, the impressive Nigerian pairing of Zainab Momoh and Ramatu Yakubu defeated Sri Lanka’s Hendahewa and Ishadika Kavidi in a nervy three set encounter—14-21, 21-18, 21-15.In what was one of the best come backs of the championship, the Nigerian women doubles duo fought back into the game in second set after losing the first set and then showing some class to pip their opposition from Sri Lanka; -1-2 in major scores.The fourth and final day of the biggest Badminton tournament in Africa—the Lagos State International Badminton Classics would see all the action climax with plenty of giveaways for keen fans which includes a return ticket to London and Ghana.