UGA Role in Future

first_img Chancellor Stephen Portch looks at fungi spores through a microscope that’s part of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Digital Distance Diagnostics project. “This is amazing!” he said. “This project can really save entire crops within a matter of minutes. That’s a great benefit to the farmers.”  (Photo by Jennifer Cannon, UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) Portch showed particular interest in the new Distance Diagnostics Digital Imaging system. This system, installed in 31 counties during early 1998, allows county extension agents to take digital pictures of diseased plants both in the field and under a microscope. The agents then upload the pictures to the World Wide Web. Scientists great distances away can identify the problem and make a recommendation, usually via e-mail. “It’s a reality that we can’t have every specialist in every corner of the state to help farmers,” Portch said. “But this system puts together expertise and technology, and this allows us to increase our service.” As an amateur farmer, Portch sees the potential value of the university’s work in precision agriculture using Global Positioning System equipment. He said that’s likely to have long-term impact for Georgia farmers, and for farmers all over the world who will benefit from Georgia research. “Who would have thought, even just 25 years ago, that farmers would need technological and computer skills?” he asked. “But today, farmers almost can’t live without them.” Precision farming, a blend of tractors, satellites, lasers and the like, isn’t magic to Stephen Portch. The University System of Georgia chancellor says the brave new technology is precisely what agriculture needs from the state’s universities.”I do some amateur farming, and I know that if your operation is not precise, it’s not efficient,” Portch said. “And in the professional, competitive world of modern agriculture, that’s what you’ve got to be.” In a recent visit to the Tifton campus of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Portch said he’s excited about the combination of technology and farming he saw. “This is not like your father’s farming,” he said after the 1998 Precision Agriculture Forum and Trade Show. “This is truly fascinating work being done here.” Portch said part of the mission of the University System of Georgia is to not only conduct research that helps Georgians, but to extend that knowledge to them. “We must maximize the use of technology, ” he said, “not just in agriculture, but also in teaching, research and extension.” He sees the entire university system supporting agriculture. UGA, Fort Valley State University and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College have the main responsibility to teach and extend agriculture. But Portch said the system’s role in farming isn’t exclusive to those three schools. “A lot of the technology is being developed at Georgia Tech and several other of our colleges and universities,” he said. “The biggest challenge for all of us is keeping up with the dramatic rate of change. But we do need to stay a half-step ahead of our customers.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *