Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of Extension’s impact in the county over the past year.
4-H Youth Development
UGA Extension in Decatur County and the Decatur County 4-H Club promotes agriculture literacy through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programming, enrichment, citizenship and general 4-H programming locally, statewide and nationally. Improving agricultural knowledge increases a citizen’s ability to make better choices related to their overall health and well-being.
Many country residents do not know about the production of plant and animal products, realize the economic impact of agriculture, or consider that many laws and policies are related to agriculture. Even in an agrarian-dominated community such as Decatur County, people do not comprehend the essential relationship between agriculture, jobs, food, clothing and way of life.
With more than 24,000 reported multigenerational contacts within 2017 and more than 21,000 contacts in 2018, collaboration from agriculture-based entities has strengthened the success of efforts raising awareness of agricultural issues in Decatur County and beyond.
Decatur County 4-H continues to lead many educational efforts locally, statewide and nationally. 4-H staff implement agriculture education through STEM enrichment for elementary youth, agriscience field days and national conference presentations, as well as by hosting frequent hands-on experiential learning opportunities. Participants in agriculture programming reported that their attitude toward the importance of agriculture changed as they learned how all-encompassing agriculture is to the national, state and local economies. Adults and youth alike were amazed at the economic value generated by food and fiber production and their associated industries. Over the two-year project term, an increase in knowledge of agronomics and agribusiness has been reported.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
The newest Decatur County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent, Nancy Bostick, supported local peanut growers by assisting them with peanut-maturity rating throughout the growing season. In 2018, nearly 80 samples of peanuts were blasted to reveal the hull color and determine maturity, which in turn indicates optimal harvest time for peanuts. Up to 30 percent of total yield production occurs in peanuts during the last three weeks of growth, so it is critical that growers make proper digging decisions to maximize yield and profit. Another significant program Decatur County offered this year was soil and tissue samples. In 2018, 377 soil samples were tested to determine soil profile. With this information, homeowners and growers can decide which fertilizers to use in order to make their action plan for the growing season most affordable. Additionally, 205 tissue samples were used to determine the nutrients within plants. By using both the soil- and tissue-testing programs, Decatur County Extension can help growers and homeowners make decisions to maximize yield.