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A Message from Dean Bill Brown

We hope that you will enjoy this newsletter as a way for our office to provide updates on new and exciting programs and research projects underway across the state. When I walk the halls and visit labs on the UTIA campus in Knoxville or participate in a field day at one of the ten AgResearch and Education Centers or attend an event at a county Extension office, it is easy to see the amazing faculty and staff who work at UTIA and the high-quality science that these individuals are conducting to serve the people of Tennessee and the world. What sets us apart as a land-grant institution is that our cutting-edge faculty are conducting state-of-the-art research and also teaching undergraduate and graduate students and helping to deliver this important information to the public to improve their lives; the integrated mission is our strength.

Tennessee's agriculture and forestry industries have a significant positive effect on the state's economy, generating over $60 billion in economic impact, representing almost 14 percent of the state's economy. These industries support over 350,000 jobs through over $4.0 billion in revenue. UTIA's teaching, research, and extension programs add value to these industries.

Below, we provide an update on the Beef Heifer Development Program, a joint public/private partnership between the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Farmer's Cooperative and the UT Institute of Agriculture as a result of the Governor's Rural Challenge. Our future newsletters will highlight a UTIA faculty member along with construction updates and interesting facts about the AgResearch and Education Centers that you might not be aware of. Dr. Doug Hayes, professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, was recently awarded a large Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant from USDA NIFA and is the principal investigator. He and his co-investigators within UTIA as well as other institutions across the country are investigating the use of biodegradable mulches in fruit and vegetable production. We are beginning to see more and more "Big Grants" being awarded to UTIA faculty as the lead, showing that federal agencies and faculty across the country are seeing UTIA faculty as the "Prime Awardee" to effectively execute transdisciplinary projects.

Again, we hope that you will enjoy this and future issues of the UTIA AgResearch newsletter. As always, our doors are open for your comments, inputs, and questions.


Pumpkin Field Day
September 24, 2015
West Tennessee AgResearch Center - Jackson

October 3, 2015
Brehm Animal Science
Arena - Knoxville

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#GrowTheHerd—Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Center Launches in October

Administrators of the new Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Program are screening nominations for the first class of consignment heifers. They will select up to one hundred heifers to participate in the program, which starts in October. The Beef Heifer Development Program is located at the UT Dairy AgResearch and Education Center in Lewisburg.

The inaugural class will arrive at a new facility built specifically to develop and breed heifers. The weaned heifers will spend eleven months at the Center, where they'll undergo intensive management practices that will result in optimum reproductive efficiency as mature cows.
More ...

Changes Coming to AgResearch Administration

In August, John Hodges, assistant director of UT AgResearch, announced his retirement after more than forty years of service to our university. He plans to step down next summer. The announcement comes just four months after Steve Oliver, assistant dean of UT AgResearch, declared his plans to retire at the end of December 2015.

A search committee has been formed, and the Associate Dean for AgReserach position has been posted. Committee members will begin screening applicants on October 15. The Assistant Director position will be adjusted slightly to include the commodity programs and the work plan system.

Both men have been esteemed members of the AgResearch team, and their leadership will be greatly missed by faculty and staff. Please join me in wishing both Dr. Oliver and Dr. Hodges well as they begin new chapters in their lives. More ...

Faculty 360

You see them on campus, but do you know what makes them tick? Faculty 360 is an all-around look at a UT AgResearch faculty member. In this issue we feature Dr. Nourredine (Nour) Abdoulmoumine, assistant professor in Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. Learn more about Nour in this Q & A. More ...

Neal Stewart's Comparisons of Songwriting and Science

Sometimes hearing concepts described from a different point of view can drive a point home and can serve as an excellent learning moment.

A recent article in Science by Dr. Neal Stewart, Racheff Chair and professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, comparing his renewed activity (and challenges) in writing, recording, and selling country music songs to his faculty life of writing grant proposals and journal articles, conducting research, and training graduate students and postdocs represents an interesting intersection of disciplines with common themes. More ...

Five Things You Didn't Know about
the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center

The Plateau AgResearch and Education Center in Crossville is a site for beef, field crop, and fruit and vegetable research with a history that traces back to the early 1940s. Its staff of thirteen manages the 2,100-acre facility and supports UTIA faculty in dozens of research trials annually.

But did you know it's an official site for monitoring climate change? The Center is home to a climate monitoring station that's part of the U.S. Climate Reference Network—the only one of its kind in Tennessee.

The Center also has its very own KinderGarden, a dynamic new resource for play and learning for young children. Read more about these and three other facts you may not have heard.

Biodegradable Mulch Team Uses Transdisciplinary Approach to Meet Objectives

Researchers say it's a complicated issue for many fruit and vegetable producers—the adoption of biodegradable mulch. While the "environmentally friendly" alternative to plastic mulch may seem like the obvious choice, concerns remain about the impacts these mulches have on soil, productivity, and farm economics. Through a Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant, scientists from several disciplines are now combining their expertise to find a solution to this issue. The transdisciplinary team includes faculty and staff from five UTIA departments. Additionally, there is involvement from an advisory committee that includes growers, biodegradable mulch representatives, suppliers, and Extension agents. More ...

We Need a Name

This online publication will be a useful tool in keeping our faculty, staff, and stakeholders informed of news and events as well communicating the goals and achievements of UT AgResearch. This is your newsletter and we want you to be a part of the naming process. Email your suggestions to Carrera Romanini with the subject line "Newsletter Name." Please respond by November 1, 2015. We look forward to your recommendations.

AgResearch Research and Education Center Renovations

A major renovation effort continues at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson and the West Tennessee Agricultural Museum located at the AgResearch and Education Center at Milan. While the museum project is nearing completion, the West Tennessee Center will undergo a second phase of repairs and upgrades in 2016.

In addition to office building upgrades, the West Tennessee Center recently replaced two greenhouses with newer, larger, state-of-the-art models, increasing the Center’s greenhouse space by almost 1,000 square feet. Faculty, research associates, and graduate students with the Departments of Plant Sciences, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, and Entomology and Plant Pathology use these greenhouses. More ...

UT AgResearch

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Knoxville, TN 37996