2009 Agricultural Awareness Day - November 5, 2009
This year, 1,330 students in the 4th grade from the Tift, Ben HIll, Colquitt and Irwin County area and 4th - 6th graders from Ware County toured the 40 stations set up around the University of Georgia Tifton Campus. These students learned about where their food and fiber comes from. Stations included lectures on livestock, picking cotton and harvesting peanuts.
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Dr. Ayodeji Adedoyin
, an Electrical Engineering graduate from Florida State University, has joined Dr. Changying Li’s “Advanced Sensing Lab for Food and Fiber”. He will be working on the project of developing sensing technologies for cotton fiber quality measurement.
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Joe Knoll, (Ozias-Akins Biotech Lab), won 3rd place in the Postdoc Oral Presentation Competition at the annual Society for In Vitro Biology meeting.
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Sergio Villagran, a consulting Irrigation Engineer & a graduate student at the Univ. of Concepcion (Chile), is spending 6 months with the UGA Precision Ag team to learn about precision agriculture.

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University of Georgia agricultural engineer Changying “Charlie” Li is the principle investigator for a project recently funded by the USDA-Specialty Crop Research Initiative program in the amount of $774,581 to work on a project dealing with onion postharvest handling. The multi-disciplinary team consists of engineers, plant pathologists, horticulturist, food scientist, agricultural economist, and rural sociologist.

Onion is the third-largest fresh vegetable crop in the U.S. and the second most valuable vegetable in the world. As a critical link between the farm and consumers, postharvest handling is vital for the profitability and sustainability of the onion industry. However, onion postharvest handling at both fresh-market and storage levels faces enormous challenges such as looming labor shortages, significant storage losses, and enormous quantities of cull onions that need to be disposed of.

Engineers of this team will develop a multimodal sensing platform using X-ray and hyperspectral imaging technologies to enhance the onion sorting efficiency and efficacy in the packinghouse. The effect of nondestructive inspection on onion quality will be evaluated by a sensory panel. Botrytis neck rot and sour skin are two most important onion postharvest diseases, causing significant losses for onion growers and handlers each year. Plant pathologists and engineers will work together to develop technologies not only to detect but also to manage these diseases in storage. Developing environmentally friendly technologies is a priority of this project. The team will develop a high-throughput anaerobic digestion system to convert onion waste into energy and mitigate environmental pollution caused by rot onions. 

Another component of the project is to develop and deliver outreach programs and socioeconomic studies to help growers and onion postharvest industry adopt new technologies to advance onion postharvest handling efficiency and sustainability in the long run.

Other co-principal investigators on this project include professors Ronald Gitaitis, William Tollner, Chi Thai, Gary Hawkins, Robert Shewfelt, Dan MacLean from the University of Georgia, Howard Schwartz from Colorado State University, Krishna Mohan from University of Idaho, Kimberly Morgan from Mississippi State University, and Joseph Molnar from Auburn University.

For more information, please email Changying Li.


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