When shoppers reach for the butter for their holiday cooking this fall, they won’t see any good news in the butterfat shortage that has sent prices soaring. But dairy farmers will, said a University of Georgia economist. “This is really having a positive effect on butterfat, and therefore milk, prices,” said Bill Thomas, a dairy economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “When I say positive, I mean for the farmers.” In 1997, farmers essentially paid their processors so they could produce milk. “Georgia dairies have been losing about $1.86 for every 100 pounds of milk they produce,” Thomas said. Each hundredweight equals about 11 gallons of milk. But as butterfat has become more dear, farmers are finally getting paid more for their milk. “As we go into the holiday baking and party season, people will buy more dairy products that are rich in butterfat: sour cream, butter, cream, rich cheeses,” Thomas said. Americans use more butter and butterfat-rich products during the winter holidays. In-home baking, restaurant meals and packaged baking mixes will use lots of butter and other rich dairy products. “And that will keep the demand high, supporting prices to farmers,” Thomas said. Dairy farmers’ payments for milk are based on the butterfat content. The standard is 3.5 percent butterfat per hundredweight of milk. They receive a premium for every one-tenth percent over that. Thomas said the premium now is about three times what it was last year — 32.5 cents now from 10.6 cents in September 1997. “They’re still not making much,” Thomas said of Georgia dairies. “They are making money but have not recovered from the losses they had over the past several years.” And as the holidays approach, the weather cools off. That’s more good news for dairy farmers. During hot weather, cows give less milk that’s less rich. With a carefully planned diet, farmers can get more and richer milk from their cows. Thomas said the feeds that can increase butterfat content were in short supply and were costly through the summer. “But as prices come down and availability goes up for that feed,” he said, “farmers can increase the butterfat content of their cows’ milk and increase their income accordingly.” The breed of dairy cows affects butterfat supplies, too. The Dairy Herd Improvement Association has records on about 60 percent of Georgia’s dairy herd. They test the milk from members’ herds and keep records on the cows. Holsteins’ milk has about 3.5 percent butterfat. Jerseys, only 4 percent of Georgia’s herd, produce milk with about 4.3 percent — almost a quarter again as much butterfat. “This butterfat shortage might make farmers decide to buy a few Jerseys and increase the overall butterfat content of their milk,” Thomas said. “There is a tradeoff, though. Jerseys produce less milk volume.” But that decision could pay off in the long run. “Americans are switching back to butter and butter products,” said Connie Crawley, an Extension Service nutrition and health specialist with the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Sometimes people go back to butter for the taste. And sometimes they switch because of concerns about trans-fatty acids, which can be high in stick margarine. Crawley said trans-fatty acids may be as likely to raise blood cholesterol levels as saturated fat. “Really, the question people need to ask when choosing fats is ‘how often do I use this product?'” Crawley said. If you use margarine or butter fairly often, you may want to choose soft or liquid margarine. These products are lower in trans-fatty acids and have no cholesterol. If you use butter or margarine rarely or for special holiday recipes, Crawley said she wouldn’t be too worried about using real butter. “The key here is moderation,” she said.
New 4-H Focus Today’s 4-H’ers focus on leadership, community service and technology. While still grounded in its rural roots, 4-H has grown to meet the needs of all of America’s youth – rural, urban and suburban alike. “Character education is a big issue for us in the coming years,” Ryles said. “Ethical issues are a major concern for young people today, as well as their parents.” According to Public School Teachers in the U.S., the greatest issues facing youth during the 1940s were: talking out of turn, chewing gum, running in the halls, making noise, dress code infractions, littering and cutting in line. That list today includes: alcohol abuse, drug abuse, pregnancy, rape suicide, robbery and assault. A national survey of youth ethics conducted by the National 4-H Congress this summer showed that the four major concerns of America’s young people are peer pressure, lack of parental involvement, substance abuse and sexual activity. “In Georgia 4-H, we will also be focusing on urban agricultural issues, and will continue emphasis on environmental education,” Ryles said. A recent survey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that of the more than 6.5 million 4-H Club members nationwide, most are enrolled in projects that are centered on plants and animals, healthy lifestyle education, science and technology or communication and expressive arts. Georgia has more than 138,000 4-H members enrolled in clubs. More of Georgia’s 4-H’ers live in central cities than live on farms. The largest number of 4-H’ers, 41.3 percent, live in rural, non-farm areas. Thirty-two percent live in small towns and cities of 10,000 to 50,000. Changing Face of 4-H Regardless of when the club actually began, be assured the 4-H Club of the next millennium isn’t your grandparents’ 4-H Club. “It’s not just agriculture any more,” said John Williams, a 4-H’er from Doughtery County, and a member of the 1999 National 4-H Congress leadership committee. “It’s a whole new experience.” As the world changed over the last century, so did 4-H. When man was headed to the moon, 4-H introduced new programs and projects like rocketry, electronics and frozen foods. “4-H has always been evolving,” said Bo Ryles, Georgia’s state 4-H program leader. “That’s how we have remained relevant to the lives of children in this state and across the county.” When 4-H began, almost 100 years ago, children were focused on helping on the family farm, learning homemaking skills and trying to get to school. The 4-H Club was established to help rural youth learn by doing. Who had the very first 4-H Club is hotly debated. Georgia claims the first club was the Boys Corn Club established in Covington, Ga., in 1904. A girls canning club quickly followed in Hancock County. However, Springfield, Ohio, has the earliest claim in 1902. In 1914, when Congress established the Cooperative Extension Service, 4-H Clubs were made a part of the organization and have been administered through the land-grant institutions in each state ever since. “We are recognizing the Centennial of the 4-H Club in 2002,” said Susan Stewart, director of the National 4-H Congress. “The National 4-H Congress will be held in Atlanta over Thanksgiving weekend through the Centennial celebration.” This story is another in a weekly series called “Planting the Seed: Science for the New Millennium.” These stories feature ideas and advances in agricultural and environmental sciences with implications for the future.
The Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association has planned a Spray Technicians Seminar Feb. 8 at Eagle’s Landing Country Club in Stockbridge, Ga. The program is designed to keep people who maintain golf courses updated on the latest in pesticide application, safety and technology. The training should provide 6 hours pesticide recertification credit. It will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:15 p.m. The fee is $40. For more information or a registration form, call Karen White at (706) 742-2651.
Separate raw meat from cookedor ready-to-eat foods.Don’t use the same cuttingboard or knife for raw poultry and other foods.Don’t handle raw and cookedfoods without washing your hands thoroughly in between.Wash your hands, too, after handling frozen or thawed chicken oreggs. Wash your hands with warm, running water and soap for atleast 20 seconds, rubbing them together and rinsing thoroughly.Don’t put cooked meat backonto a plate or surface with raw meat juices.Don’t use raw or soft-cookedeggs in food preparations that won’t be heat-treated orcooked.Keep surfaces clean.Thoroughly wash surfaces, plates or utensils that have come intocontact with raw meat.Use a thermometer. Again, cookpoultry pieces to 170 and whole birds to 180. You can’t tell bylooks if the meat is properly done. It’s important to use a meatthermometer. By Helen CarterUniversity of GeorgiaYou may be asking yourself, “With all this talk about bird flu,is it safe for me to handle and eat chicken?”In University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices across thestate, that’s the question agents are answering most often thesedays.Recent media coverage of avian influenza, or bird flu, hasconsumers questioning the safety of poultry. To date, theguidelines for safely handling and cooking chicken haven’tchanged.The World Health Organization still says that no epidemiologicalinformation suggests that anyone has been infected through eatingwell-cooked, contaminated poultry meat. WHO also says there’s noevidence that products shipped from affected areas have been thesource of infection in humans.Proper cookingNormal cooking to the recommended temperatures (170 degreesFahrenheit for poultry pieces and 180 for whole birds) willinactivate the viruses if they’re present. Other guidelines: To learn more about this or other food topics, contact your localUGA Cooperative Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.(Helen Carter is the University of Georgia CooperativeExtension County Coordinator in Pike County, Ga.)
By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaWillie Chance isn’t a doctor, but he thinks like one. Chance, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Houston County, helps homeowners bandage and prevent injuries and illnesses on their landscape plants. Just as humans are responsible for the upkeep of their bodies, homeowners are ultimately responsible for what they allow to happen in their landscape. “When we go to the doctor, we want a shot so we’ll feel better right away,” Chance said. “We don’t want to be told we need to cut back on certain foods and increase our intake of water and vitamins.” Fertilizer isn’t food Don’t over water “Some people tell me all the things their landscape company has done, but they don’t admit to what they personally haven’t done,” he said. “A professional company just comes to your home once a month or so. You’re there every day.” React to emergenciesJust like with humans, emergency situations can lead to situations that contradict the rules. People need water to survive and so do plants. But don’t give your plants too much of a good thing. “When a person tells me they know their problem isn’t water-related, I know it very likely is,” he said. “People are actually killing plants during a drought by watering them too often.” “If your plant is wilted, give it water,” he said. “It’s like when a diabetic person’s blood sugar level drops. They aren’t supposed to eat sweets, but you give them a candy bar to bring their sugar level up quickly.” Watering plants too much can actually cause more harm than good. Excess water deprives roots of oxygen and creates a perfect environment for fungi and water molds to attack and kill roots, Chance said. Be responsive Annual plants and vegetables should be watered twice a week. Woody plants should be pruned during their dormant period. For many plants this is December through March, he said. Fertilizer does provide nutrients so that a plant can make its own food through photosynthesis, he said. However, fertilizer usually won’t “cure” a plant of its aliments, he said. “You can prune later,” Chance said. “But expect pruning during the growing season to slow plant growth more than dormant pruning.” “Nutrient deficiency will stunt a plant, but it doesn’t kill them very often,” Chance said. “You also have to add the correct nutrient. If I’m calcium deficient, it won’t help for me to pump myself full of Vitamin C.” Homeowners react the same way when Chance tells them how to solve their landscape problems. What they need to do isn’t always what they want to do. Spring flowering plants should be pruned after they bloom but before mid-July. “You want to prune before the new buds begin to form for next year,” Chance said. Prune non-blooming plants from late December through mid-September. “When you go to doctor and find out you have high cholesterol and you’re over weight, the doctor isn’t going to talk to you about trimming your toenails,” he said. “You have to address the real problem — not add a bandage to it and hope it heals itself.” For landscape advice from your county UGA Extension agent call 1-800-ASK-UGA1. “It’s best to water your plants very deeply, once a week,” he said. “If you water every day you are creating a shallow root system. The secret is to water deeply and infrequently.” When humans need surgery, they rely on anesthesia to prevent pain. Plants appreciate the same treatment, Chance said. “A lot of people rely heavily on fertilizer as the magic cure-all,” Chance said. “Fertilizer for a plant is like vitamins for us. It provides nutrients, but it’s not a food source.” (Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
Many gardeners are eager to jump on the organic gardening bandwagon. However, just as many are not able to pin down what it means to be an organic grower.A generally accepted definition of organic gardening is the use of cultural practices to improve soil and plant health in order to reduce plant problems without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Control pests with organic productsDoes organic gardening mean saying no to pesticides? The surprising answer is no. Many organic pesticides are available on the market to purchase and use safely in your garden. Typically these products are derived from natural, rather than synthetic, sources and work on a variety of pests. Marketing organic products to consumers continues to increase, but gardeners should be wary. Using products labeled as organic does not automatically make your garden productive. Cultural practices will be your most important tool. You need to review your gardening philosophy and adopt practices that will improve the soil, help you grow healthy plants and prevent pest problems. A few examples of organic gardening practices include amending soil, soil testing, crop rotation, companion planting, using disease resistant plant varieties, mulching and sanitation. It all starts with good soilThe basis for growing healthy plants in an organic garden begins with the soil. Healthy soil lays the groundwork for healthy plants. Organic gardeners must work hard to build and maintain soil health. In some parts of Georgia, this can be a real chore, so it is important to have a long-term outlook on soil preparation. Good soil has plenty of organic matter, which can include decaying plants, composted manure, composted shredded wood and other natural mediums. These materials decay in the soil, slowly releasing nutrients and improving soil structure and drainage. Consider having your soil tested through your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office. A soil test report provides information regarding the soil’s fertility status. This is critical to plant health and growth. A soil test will provide data about the soil pH and recommend how to improve the soil for maximum productivity. Growing plants organically requires more planning and labor than conventional gardens, but in the end will be more rewarding.
Growing plants from seed can save gardeners money and vastly increase the varieties that can be grown in a backyard garden. Gardeners can grow several transplants for the price of a few, store-bought plants, and the selection of varieties for sale is often limited. Seed should be started six to eight weeks prior to transplant time. For example, if the average last frost date in your area is April 15, sow tomato seed inside in late February or early March. To grow transplants, start with good quality seed from a reliable source. Quality seed is true to a cultivar or variety name and does not contain weed seed, insect casings, soil particles or plant pulp. Choose seed varieties that will mature before frost, survive heat and tolerate present growing conditions in your area. Purchase just enough seed for this season. (Seed can be stored from year to year, but germination and seedling vigor will decline with age and improper storage conditions.) Read the seed package closely and make sure the seed was packed this season. The packet will also provide information on how to space seed within a row, how deep to sow the seed, how many days it will take for the seed to germinate and more.Water is critical for germination, or the process of the embryo emerging from the seed. Without water, the seed will remain dormant. The amount of water is also critical; too much will cause seeds to rot and too little will cause them to die. Plant seed in a growing media that is fine, not chunky or lumpy. Growing media could be soil, sand, a soil-less mix or a commercial potting soil. Fine growing media helps the seed have good contact with the media. The growing media also needs to drain well enough to meet the seed’s oxygen needs. If the media is too heavy or too wet, the seed will not have the oxygen it requires, and germination may slow down or stop.Water seed with a mist nozzle or a hand-held spray bottle to provide light, even, gentle moisture without disruption. The seed can be covered with a thin layer of vermiculite or peat moss to help ensure good seed-to-media contact and to help prevent the embryo from drying out. Keep humidity high by covering your pots or flats with a clear humidity dome or plastic wrap, or enclosing plants in clear, plastic bags. Remove plastic when seedlings emerge. Some seed types require light to germinate, others require darkness and some have no preference. If a seed requires light, sow the seed on the soil surface. If a seed requires darkness, cover the seeds lightly with a layer of fine peat moss or vermiculite. Temperature affects the number of seeds that germinate as well as how fast the seed germinates. Some seed have a very specific temperature range for germination, while others will germinate over a broad range of temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to plant in soil that is 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a thermometer probe in the middle of the container or flat to measure the soil temperature. Any container can be used for starting seed as long as it drains, is deep enough for good root development and is sanitized prior to use. Plastic inserts, flats and trays with clear, fitted dome covers can be purchased at garden stores.Growing seedlings in individual cells or containers reduces damage to roots and shock to the seedlings when they are later transplanted in the garden. Place seed in a warm location that provides bright, indirect light and good air circulation. Most home gardeners don’t have a greenhouse, so once the seed germinates, supplemental light from a light stand positioned 2 to 3 inches above the seedlings must be provided. As the seedlings grow, raise the lights, keeping them 2 to 3 inches above the seedlings. Keep the lights on 16 hours a day. Without supplemental light, plants will grow weak and spindly and stretch toward a window or other light source. As they grow, seedlings will need to be thinned, leaving the remaining plants enough space to grow and develop. Crowded plants will compete for water, light and nutrients. Weak or unwanted seedlings can be snipped off with scissors or pinched off at the media level. After the first true leaves develop, the new transplants need to be prepared for their new home in the garden. This preparation process is called “hardening off.”Move the transplants outside to a shady location and gradually increase the amount of sunlight they receive over a period of several days. Repeat daily, extending the length of time by an hour that plants remain outside, until the plants have acclimated to the brighter, drier outdoor conditions. Start this process one to two weeks prior to planting the new plants in the garden. Transition plants gradually, as extreme changes can slow their growth or kill them.For more information, see UGA Extension Bulletin 1432, “Starting Plants from Seed for the Home Gardener,” at extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=B1432.
Maxwell Lamptey is visiting America, specifically Griffin, Georgia, in the hopes of learning new methods to fight aflatoxin — a carcinogen produced by soil fungus that can grow on peanuts — in his home country of Ghana.Lamptey is participating in a short-term training program, from March to September, supported by the Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL), housed at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. A senior technical officer studying legumes at the Crops Research Institute, Lamptey has been working on the university’s campus in Griffin, Georgia, alongside food scientist and PMIL collaborator Jinru Chen. Research is nothing new to Lamptey, but his work normally focuses on ways to increase yields.“In Ghana, I am involved in conducting a lot of trials, evaluations and cross hybridizations of all kinds of legumes, but mainly cowpeas and groundnuts (peanuts),” he said.On the UGA Griffin Campus, he is studying the use of solar drying to control aflatoxin contamination in peanuts. He is comparing solar drying to normal drying.Normal drying involves exposing the peanuts directly to sunlight on the ground or on concrete. Solar drying does not expose the peanuts directly to sunlight or rain. Instead, a dryer captures the heat from the sun and an enclosed structure around the nuts conducts the heat, Lamptey said. “Everything is enclosed, so there will be no moisture from rain,” he said. Lamptey aims to develop the “best and most affordable” solar peanut dryer that can be built mostly from local materials available in Ghana. “Then, when I go home (and share the method), farmers can build it themselves with what they have,” he said.While in Georgia, Lamptey hopes to learn about affordable, effective ways to control aflatoxin and transfer that knowledge to farmers in Ghana.“I hope I will gain a lot of knowledge about farming and storage and aflatoxins (while in Georgia). Aflatoxin is not something that is well known outside the scientific community. Most families in Ghana do not know much about it. Actually, I hardly hear anything about it in Ghana,” he said.The Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab The University of Georgia (UGA) College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) hosts the Management Entity responsible for directing the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Peanut Productivity and Mycotoxin Control (PMIL). UGA and its U.S. and international partners join other Feed the Future Innovation Labs based at top U.S. universities and developing country research institutions to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges in agriculture and food security. For more information about the Feed the Future’s PMIL program, visit pmil.caes.uga.edu.
Your browser does not support the video tag.Neuroimaging typically helps researchers identify which regions of the brain activate when a person carries out a task, such as the simple task of starting a car. In order to turn on your car, you first have to look, then find, where to insert the key, as your brain takes visual cues and stimulates different parts of your arm to complete the action. Each part of your arm activates a different part of the brain in the act of inserting the key. If there’s any interruption in the connections, those functions don’t happen. Those interrupted connections play a role in neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, CTE and autism. With any of these disorders, the RBC collaborators can now model a 360-degree view of which parts of the brain are no longer talking to each other and which centers in the brain are being reactivated and reconnected.“What this new model allows, and has never been done before,” West said, “is for researchers to ask more refined questions about how the brain talks to itself, functions and coordinates action.”“We tend to say that the brain is a black box and we don’t know how it works,” he said. “This study is a game changer. It gives us a light to shine inside the box.”In addition to those listed above, the study’s co-authors include Gregory Simchick and Alice Shen, both from the MRI physics lab, led by Zhao.The study publication, “Pig Brains Have Homologous Resting State Networks with Human Brains,” is available online at www.liebertpub.com. For the first time, researchers in the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center have used an imaging method normally reserved for humans to analyze brain activity in live agricultural swine models, and they have discovered that pig brains are even better platforms than previously thought for the study of human neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.One immediate potential application is in the study and diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive brain disease caused by a series of blunt trauma usually seen in military veterans and NFL football players. Currently CTE can be diagnosed only through an autopsy. The new study strongly suggests that a translational swine model for mapping functional brain connectivity is a promising approach to determine biomarkers or brain signatures that lead to CTE. Using this type of data, doctors would have the opportunity to diagnose CTE while a veteran or athlete is still alive.By using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI), the UGA researchers demonstrated functional connectivity in sensorimotor regions of the swine brain that parallels to that of the human brain. These regions include those where perceptions, feelings, movements and memories are encoded. The similarities of these functional networks, as published in the journal Brain Connectivity, set the stage for targeted clinical applications in the treatment and prevention of neurological disorders. Franklin West, associate professor of animal and dairy science in College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and his RBC collaborator, Qun Zhao, drew comparisons between sensory and cognitive relevance found in swine and those previously established in humans.“Most of the models to-date deal with structural comparisons,” said Zhao, associate professor of physics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “Our model goes beyond brain mass and allows us to address questions related to brain connectivity and memory function. Without a functional map of the brain it’s hard to tell what parts of the brain are talking to each other.”Previous research has shown that the shape and exact location of brain regions interact strongly with the modeling of brain connectivity. For years, researchers have assumed the shape and size of a swine brain bears physiological and anatomical similarities to the human brain, and therefore swine are considered a good animal model for neurological disease. However, according to the RBC team, scientists have not yet developed a unique model that captures functional connectivity or details the wiring diagram of the brain.
Berlin, VT : Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) announced recently that Ingrid Temer has been promoted to Senior Account Manager in the Sales and Service Department.Temer will assume additional responsibilities for advancing client-centric projects and initiatives that increase employer satisfaction with the health plan’s products and services. As the department’s Senior Account Manager, Temer will also serve a pivotal role as a resource for other account managers and sales and service representatives.Temer continues to fulfill her account management duties with key accounts such as University of Vermont, City of Burlington, Norwich University and Rock of Ages Corp. Temer joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont in 2004, bringing account management experience to BCBSVT from national health insurance carriers. Temer has earned the respect and admiration of co-workers, clients and consultants with her professional attitude and demonstrated commitment to advancing positive change.Temer is participating in the 2007 Leadership Champlain program, a community-service initiative which attracts civic and business leaders in Chittenden County. Temer is the first Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont employee to be nominated to this highly regarded program. Temer also serves on the Diversity Committee at BCBSVT and the Community and Outreach Committee of the Community Health Center of Burlington.Temer, her husband and two children reside in Burlington, Vermont.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest private health insurer, providing coverage for about 180,000 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and has offered group and individual health plans to Vermonters for more than 60 years. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external) Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.