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.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
As Georgia’s largest industry, agriculture relies on water resources to maintain profitability. With irrigation costs being between $6 and $12 per acre-inch, the timing of irrigation cycles are very important. Soil-moisture sensors measure the availability of soil moisture in fields, allowing for much better timing of irrigation cycles.
Due to increasing concerns about the consumption of state waters for irrigating row crops, the county Extension coordinator (CEC) in Jenkins County surveyed local farmers’ irrigation scheduling methods. Survey results determined that 9 percent of surveyed farmers used soil-moisture sensors on their farms in 2016. Of the acres surveyed, only 1.2 percent were being monitored by moisture-sensing devices. In 2017, the CEC organized a field day to provide an opportunity for local producers to learn more about soil-moisture sensors. To further efforts in this programming, the CEC worked with other UGA Extension personnel and Central Savannah River Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) personnel to develop a plan to further water conservation efforts in Jenkins and surrounding counties. This team’s plans were put into action as grant funds were received through Central Savannah River RC&D in the amount of $33,900 for the 13 counties within the council.
Through this multiyear project, efforts to manage water by agriculture users have greatly improved. After two years of UGA Extension programming and $22,469.42 in grant funding for Jenkins County, the total area being managed and/or influenced by these sensors amounted to more than 1,600 acres of irrigated cropland in year one and more than 2,800 in year two, an 81 percent increase. Using soil-moisture sensors allows for an estimated water savings of one acre-inch per year, resulting in the conservation of an estimated 76 million gallons of water per year. At an estimated pumping cost of $8 per acre-inch, the 60-sensor stations will save an estimated combined total of $22,400 each year in pumping costs.
4-H Youth Development
UGA Extension held Ag in the Classroom at the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center in Midville, Georgia, for Jenkins and Jefferson County fifth-grade 4-Hers. Ag in the Classroom is a program largely supported by the community. This two-day program consisted of 10 20-minute classes taught by local experts. Class topics included poultry, cotton, Native American history, honeybees, cows, goats, grapes, peanuts and ornamentals. The program gave students their first experience with many of these crops in production agriculture. Some of the experiences, such as the grape stomp, will leave a lasting impression on the kids. During the grape class, kids also learned about the history of grapes and grape varieties, and they even enjoyed a homemade biscuit with grape jelly. 4-H’ers from other counties gave demonstrations with their animals, growing their demonstration and presentation skills. Students were able to learn about cattle and goat production along with the milking process by observing a portable milker. Overall, Ag in the Classroom gave students with very little farm experience a chance to learn about where their food and fiber comes from. More than 295 kids participated in this program in October.