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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

News from the Southeast Area

Agency Accomplishments


The America Society of America (ASA) has named Dr. William Anderson to the class of 2015 ASA Fellows for his research on breeding and production perennial warm-season forages and biomass feedstock.  Dr. Anderson is a Research Geneticist with the Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Unit, Tifton, GA.  He will be recognized during the Annual ASA Breakfast, Awards Ceremony on November 16, 2015, at Minneapolis, MN.


Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has been selected as the recipient of the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) “Champion Award” for 2015 in recognition of its work on the use of flue gas desulfurization gypsum in agriculture.  The ACAA established its “Champion Award” to recognize extraordinary contributions to the beneficial use of coal combustion products.  The award was presented at its meeting in Raleigh, NC.   Individuals specifically noted for their contributions for the award included Dr. H. Allen Torbert and Dr. Dexter B. Watts of Auburn, AL; Dr. Martin Locke and Dr. Michael B Jenkins of Oxford, MS; Dr. Dinku M. Endale of Tifton, GA; Dr. Rufus L. Chaney and Dr. Harry Schomberg of Beltsville, MD; and Dr. Ray B. Bryant of University Park, PA.


It was recently announced that the article “Impact of pyrolysis temperature and manure source on physicochemical characteristics of biochar” has been honored with a Best Paper Award for 2015.   This article was the second most cited paper by the Bioresource Technology Journal in 2014 (impact factor 5.33).  The article was authored by a team of Agricultural Research Service-Southeast Area scientists at Florence, SC (Drs. Keri Cantrell, Patrick Hunt, Jeff Novak and Kyoung Ro) and at New Orleans, LA (Dr. Minori Uchimiya).  The information in this article has significant meaning for more effective use of biochar as an amendment for nutrient poor soils.  The award was based on the article receiving 154 citations in a few short years.  Dr. Keri Cantrell is a former Agricultural Engineer and Dr. Patrick Hunt is a former research leader (now retired) at the Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research Center in Florence, SC.   


The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) has named Dr. Gilbert C. Sigua to the class of 2015 SSSA Fellows for his outstanding research and technical contributions in enhancing agricultural and environmental sustainability and improving functionality of degraded soils for environmentally sustainable production in humid region.  Dr. Sigua is a Research Soil Scientist of Southeast Area, Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center in Florence, SC.  He will be recognized during the Annual SSSA Breakfast, Awards and Plenary (Nyle C. Brady Frontiers of Soil Science Lectureship) on November 18, 2015, at Minneapolis, MN.  Fellow is the highest recognition bestowed by the SSSA. Members of the Society nominate worthy colleagues based on their professional achievements and meritorious service.  Up to 0.3 percent of the Society’s active and emeritus members may be elected Fellow.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has named twelve individuals as ASABE Fellows. They were inducted at a ceremony on July 27 at the 2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting, held in New Orleans.  Named to the class of 2015 ASABE Fellows from the Southeast Area were:

KURT C. LAWRENCE, supervisory agricultural engineer and research leader, Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, U.S. National Poultry Research Center, Athens, Georgia, for his outstanding technical contributions to grain moisture sensing and multispectral and hyperspectral imaging for food safety and quality monitoring applications.

BOSOON PARK, research agricultural engineer and lead scientist, Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, U.S. National Poultry Research Center, Athens, Georgia, for his outstanding contributions in the advancement of hyperspectral and real-time multispectral imaging and nanotechnology for food safety and quality.


To be considered for the grade of ASABE Fellow, an individual must demonstrate unusual professional distinction, with outstanding qualifications and experience in the field of agricultural engineering. Twenty years' membership in ASABE is also required. Only about two percent of the active members of ASABE have achieved the grade of Fellow.

Important Events for the Upcoming Week


Outreach and Professional Activities:

November 30-December 4, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Chemist, Gillian Eggleston, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC), New Orleans, LA was invited to speak at a training seminar at the Cenicana Sugarcane Research Institute in Cali, Columbia.  Dr. Eggleston will speak on the following topics: Postharvest deterioration of sugarcane, Control and measurement of sugar losses, Green harvest residues, Sucrose losses in the factory and Colorants in the sugar factory and refinery.  Dr. Eggleston is an expert on green cane harvesting and associated problems and a considerable amount of research has been conducted in her group in recent years on the effect of green cane harvesting on sugarcane factory and refinery processing.  Green harvesting of cane delivers considerable quantities of starch and color to the factory, and newly developed USDA methods will be introduced to Columbian sugar scientists.

December 13 - 16, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Hydrologist James R. Rigby, Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit in Oxford, MS will present the paper entitled, "An Induced Infiltration and Groundwater Transfer Project to Enhance Recharge in the Lower Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer: Modeling and Analysis" at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco, CA.


December 14-18, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Hydraulic Engineer, Eddy Langendoen of the Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit, Oxford, MS will meet with collaborators from: Cornell University on the development and testing of cost-effective gully stabilization measures in the humid northern Ethiopian Highlands; Penn State University on the quantification of sediment sources and their transport at river basin scale; and Louisiana State University and the University of Illinois on the development of new concepts to elucidate the interactions between river hydrodynamics, bed and bank adjustment while attending the Annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, CA.


December 13-19, 2015 Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Hydrologist, Michele L. Reba, Delta Water Management Research Unit in Jonesboro, AR will present the paper entitled, "Seasonal variation in measured H2O and CO2 flux of irrigated rice in the Mid-South, at the Annual American Geophysical Union Fall meeting in San Francisco, CA.


December 14-15, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Agricultural Economist Leah M. Duzy and Agricultural Engineer Ted S. Kornecki of the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, AL are invited to speak at the 2015 Alabama Corn and Wheat Short Course in Auburn, AL. Dr. Duzy will present on wheat production and profitability across the Southeast, and Dr. Kornecki will present on equipment used to manage high residue cover crops.”

December 16, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Research Ecologist Jason Taylor of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit in Oxford, MS will host an outdoor traveling school called Mountain Classroom at the National Sedimentation Lab. While in Oxford, the class will take a tour of the facility, and discuss agricultural research on nutrient cycling and best management practices in the Mississippi Delta with Dr. Taylor.  Mountain Classroom is a travelling semester for high school students at Proctor Academy based in New Hampshire.

December 1, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Agricultural Engineer Ronald Bingner of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit in Oxford, MS will present the poster paper “Development of Wetland Components within the AnnAGNPS Watershed Model for Nutrient Management” at the Soil and Water Conservation Society Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Monitoring Conference in Memphis, TN. 

December 2, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Ecologist Matt Moore of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit in Oxford, MS will assist in judging the Oxford Middle School Science Fair in Oxford, MS.

December 3-5, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Plant Pathologist, Yulin Jia from Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, Stuttgart, AR will attend the annual meeting of a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project in St Louis, Mo.  The project titled ‘Novel Strategies for Managing Blast Diseases on Rice and Wheat’ has been funded by USDA-NIFA under global food security since 2013.  At the meeting, Dr. Jia will present an update on rice blast research as the team leader to the team members and scientific advisors.


December 7, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Horticulturist Elizabeth A. Baldwin of the Citrus, Subtropical & Other Products Research Unit, Fort Pierce, FL is invited to speak on “Chemical Drivers for Flavor Acceptance in Fresh and Processed Fruit and Impact of Citrus Greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) Disease on Orange Juice Flavor” at the 3rd Flavor, Fragrance & Perception Symposium at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

December 10, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Soil Scientist Martin Locke, of the Water Quality and Ecology Research Unit in Oxford, MS will make a presentation on cover crop research to Natural Resources Conservation Service field staff at a Cover Crop Planning Workshop, Jamie Whitten Plant Materials Center, Coffeeville, MS.

December 10, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Scientists Craig Tucker, Geoff Waldbieser, Brian Bosworth, and Les Torrans of the Warmwater Aquaculture Research Unit, Stoneville, MS are invited to present a seminar to the faculty, students, and staff of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, MS.  The ARS scientists will provide an overview of current and past research conducted at Stoneville on the genetics, breeding, and culture of catfish.

Nov 21-27, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Chemist Zhongqi He, Southern Regional Research Center, SRRC, New Orleans, LA, Commodity Utilization Research Unit, will travel to Beijing China on to the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences for a site visit and to give an oral presentation and have a group discussion which will benefit USDA's global efforts on sustainable agriculture and the environment.


November 23-24, 2015, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Research Entomologist Lilia de Guzman from the Honey Bee Breeding and Genetics Laboratory, Baton Rouge, LA will attend a Workshop on Resilient Honey Bees sponsored by Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs in Bennekom, Netherlands.  She will present “The Search for Mite-Resistant Honey Bees” and participate in a round-table discussion addressing knowledge gaps, implementation of resilient bees and future collaboration.


News Clips:

ARS:  Athens, Ga. - Poultry disease is an international issue and developing animals resistant to disease may be one of the long-term solutions.  University of Georgia researchers Steven Stice and Franklin West in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Claudio Afonso at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service have spent the last four years gathering data that could make the process a reality.

The team used a technology platform called shRNA—single strands of RNA that fold back on themselves—to selectively stop the production of nucleic acids that cause disease, such as the Newcastle disease virus.  Dr. Afonso was responsible for the design of the products used to reduce virus replication (gene specific shRNA) and together with his team developed methods to conduct the challenges with virulent viruses and evaluate the results.  Initial experiments were conducted at UGA and final testing and evaluation was done at the BSL3 facilities of U.S. National Poultry Research Center in Athens.

The research team's tooling process for enhancing disease resistance, published recently in the Journal of the International Alliance for Biological Standardization, is potentially a much better way of disease protection than vaccination because it introduces permanent genetic resistance that is transmittable to a bird's offspring. In contrast, many vaccines provide protection for a given period of time and must be re-administered periodically.

Multiple types of animals and disease could be targeted. This technology could also be applied to avian influenza and swine flu.  To read the full story, "Delayed Newcastle disease virus replication using RNA interference to target the nucleoprotein," is available at


ARS News Articles

A New Vaccine to Fight Poultry Diseases
Mar 20, 2015
A New Spanish Peanut Variety for Consumers, Growers
Feb 24, 2015
Killing Fish Egg Fungus with a Disinfectant
Feb 18, 2015
USDA Research Yields Cotton Resistant to Top 20 Ag Threat
Feb 12, 2015
ARS Study Shows No Damage to Soils from Grazing of Cover Crops
Feb 11, 2015
Last Modified: 11/24/2015