Featured photo: Members of the University of Tennessee dairy research herd at the East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center helped usher in a new era of Precision Farming Livestock research during a demonstration of UT’s new robotic milking technology.
Several cows helped UT administrators and stakeholders usher in a new era of dairy research in May at a ribbon cutting and demonstration of UT AgResearch’s new robotic milking technology. Installed at the East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center’s Little River Unit, the new system allows cows to be automatically milked at their own will under a stress-free environment. By way of a sensor on her collar, the system knows how much feed to give the cow while she’s being milked, based on historical data.
The robotic milking system is part of the UT Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) Initiative that aims to improve production efficiency and food-supply chain robustness. Other investments in PLF are being made at AgResearch Centers around the state. Also, in May, UT hosted the second national conference on PLF farming research and production techniques.
UT Extension Celebrates New Center, Century of Roundup
UT Extension is celebrating in a big way. Just one week after the May 22 grand opening of the 4-H & Youth Development Center at Lone Oaks Farm, the first set of campers were busy with science, technology, engineering and math hands-on learning activities disguised as fun. With the support of the Tennessee legislature, Gov. Bill Lee, community and industry leaders, 4-H alumni, volunteer, and many more, UT Extension returned to the tradition of 4-H camping and other center-based youth programs to West Tennessee. The first cabins can house 64 overnight campers. UT Extension is seeking funding opportunities to build additional cabins so more youth can benefit.
Also, this year marks 100 years of State 4-H Roundup. On July 23, 1923, 196 delegates from 16 counties gathered for a picnic on the grounds of UT Knoxville. While the program has changed and even moved around the state, civic education, cultural exploration and project competitions have been core to roundup programming. A century of Tennessee 4-H Roundup will culminate with a celebration where it began, on the UT Knoxville campus July 17–21.
Brewing More Good Ideas
Researchers and Extension specialists are teaming up to support the state’s growing craft brewery industry. A new UT Hopyard has been constructed and planted at the East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center Plant Sciences Unit. Visible from Alcoa Highway in Knoxville, the towering structures support heavy hops vines. The harvest will produce much-needed data for a potential new crop as well as product for industry partners. The site will also be home to future educational hands-on demonstrations and trainings for producers and brewers seeking to join the niche market.