Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
With the loss of methyl bromide, alternative fumigant systems have been developed and adopted. These alternative fumigant systems are effective, but are more challenging than methyl bromide, primarily because the time interval between fumigation and planting is extended greatly. Plant back intervals for methyl bromide never extended past 10 days, while current fumigants have been documented to stay in the soil for over 45 days. It is not possible to predict how long current fumigants will stay in the soil, because soil moisture and environmental conditions, which change daily, determine this plant back interval. Because of this challenge, in 2014, the UGA Extension office bought a fumigant meter for the Echols County area. This fumigant meter allows the agent to check grower fields prior to planting to determine if it is safe to plant. This program addressing grower requests to check fields has exploded, with over 80 fields checked for soil fumigants in 2015 and 2016. One producer laid plastic on 40 acres over a two-day period with a small rain in between. When the field was checked with the fumigant meter, it was found that half of the field was ready to plant and the other half still had fumigant levels high enough to kill transplants. If the producer had gone on the calendar alone, or if the field had not been checked properly, the producer would have lost around 20 acres of bell pepper plants. The loss would have been around $38,500 for the plants alone, not including labor, fertilizer and other costs associated with transplanting. The grower commented, "The fumigant meter is one of the best resources offered by the Extension office to help vegetable growers. There is no way, at my size, I could have overcome a $38,500 loss at the beginning of a crop." Producers reported that they were able to get into the fields an average of 1.5 weeks earlier, which gave them a longer growing season and a better return on their investment.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Echols County 4-H offers a variety of activities for youth. We partner with the school system to offer in-school club meetings to students in fourth to seventh grades, and we provide hands-on learning opportunities that follow Georgia Performance Standards. In 2016, we reached 275 students through in-school programming. Public speaking is a big part of what 4-H is all about. This year nine students competed in public speaking competitions. Students in sixth through 12th grade can participate in our modified trap shotgun program. Echols County 4-H also offers traditional livestock show programs in which members can exhibit hogs in the local and state shows. Forty-one students have participated in various hog shows, including the Georgia National Fair, the local hog show and the state hog show. Summer camp is offered to students of all grade levels at different locations throughout Georgia. Our office has worked hard to make camp affordable for as many youth as possible. We offer several fundraisers for parents to choose from to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of camp. We also promote leadership conferences to students in seventh through 12th grades throughout the year. By participating in community service projects, students learn the importance of giving to others. Each year, we donate pop tabs and cans to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.