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
Jefferson County 4-H starts fifth graders with lessons that teach about agriculture grown in our county. Sixth graders are taught the importance of refraining from tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Seventh grade 4-H’ers participate in Project WET, learning that water of sufficient quality and quantity is important for all water users. Eighth grade students learn about financial literacy and our homeschool participants learn the STEAM curriculum, while our high school students participate in community and leadership activities to prepare them for the future.
Our 4-H’ers participate in events including mini booth exhibits at the county fair, cotton boll and consumer judging, Junior Conference, District Project Achievement, 4-H summer camp, State Council, goat show team and poultry judging team.
This past fall some of our fifth grade students visited a local farm to observe the fall harvest of peanuts and cotton. By doing this, our youth get to see a small portion of how agriculture affects them, like where their food and clothing comes from, conservation, technology and more.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Growers are communicating the value of utilizing moisture sensors and there is growing interest in the technology among Jefferson County producers. Over the past several years, there has been an increase in irrigated acres, with approximately 60% of row crop acres currently irrigated in the county. The increase in irrigation use comes with the need for irrigation efficiency. Jefferson County Extension collaborated with Burke County Extension and UGA irrigation and agricultural technology specialists to utilize innovation grant funding to continue promoting soil moisture sensor technology. Data from these sensors were interpreted daily to more efficiently schedule irrigation events with cooperating farmers.
Many growers feel they may be under-watering at certain stages of plant growth and over-watering at other stages. The ability to collect moisture data from the root-zone soil profile enables the grower to better manage the water needs of the plant through these stages. With a combined farm gate value of $22,294,250 for peanuts and cotton in Jefferson County, it is important to demonstrate yield and water use efficiency increases where soil moisture sensors are used to schedule irrigation.
Agent installed soil moisture meters and a base station in a cotton and peanut field with farmer cooperators. Each field was monitored using new technologies to schedule irrigation. Collaboration with the UGA specialist occurred through development of irrigation recommendations and thresholds in addition to data compilation and analysis to determine water use efficiency of crops grown. A county demonstration field day was held to highlight the use of soil moisture sensors and assist farmers with questions on new agricultural technologies. Since the initiation of the research, more growers have become interested in participating in such research on their farms to gain knowledge of irrigation management tools. Such tools can help producers become more efficient with water usage and management.