October 12, 2009

PLT workshop helps teachers bring recycling to the classroom

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Teachers at the PLT workshop take the pledge to recycle plastic bottles. From left are Teresa Stewart, Suzzanne Fields, Farrah Lamb and Babita Thakker. (Photo courtesy of Project Learning Tree)

Project Learning Tree® partnered with the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance to present a two-day educational workshop for 22 teachers and solid waste professionals in Wilkesboro, Sept. 24 and 25. The workshop included educational activities to help bring lesson plans focusing on waste and recycling into the classroom, as well as tours of a local material recovery facility and landfill.

“With the plastic bottle ban that began on Oct. 1, this is a great time to help get teachers excited about recycling in their schools, as well as providing them tools and ideas to help that happen,” said Kelley Dennings, education and outreach project manager with DPPEA. “Every second, 100 plastic bottles are disposed of in North Carolina. Now they must be recycled, not thrown into landfills.”

Teachers enjoyed the workshop because the mix of resource professionals and teachers led to great discussions regarding aspects of the recycling and waste industries in North Carolina, including economics. Babita Thakker, a teacher at Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy in Charlotte said “The current information about recycling was valuable, and it was interesting to learn how daily small choices could reduce waste at schools and in the home.”

To learn more about the upcoming plastic bottle ban, visit www.p2pays.org/BannedMaterials/PlasticBottles/. North Carolina citizens are also encouraged to sign the Plastic Bottle Recycling Pledge located on the web site.

For more information about PLT in North Carolina, contact Renee Strnad, North Carolina State University, at 919.515.5518 or visit www.ces.ncsu.edu/plt.

-R. Strnad

Posted by Natalie at 02:03 PM

August 27, 2009

A rain garden grows in McDowell County

Master Gardeners, teachers, Cooperative Extension Director Dan Smith and others joined sixth graders to plant the rain garden at a McDowell County school.
Read more in the McDowell News

Posted by Dave at 08:14 AM

March 13, 2009

Vermicompost workshop to be held in Durham

N.C. State University's 9th Annual Vermiculture Conference will be held on June 4-5 in Durham. Learn about vermicomposting technologies, marketing castings and worms, castings tea, the benefits of using castings and other topics. This is the only training on mid-to-large scale vermicomposting in the United States.

For details on the conference location, hotel accommodations and registration, please visit our
Web site at www.bae.ncsu.edu/workshops/worms09/

Posted by Natalie at 01:55 PM

February 11, 2009

Professor wages unrelenting war against erosion, water pollution

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Rich McLaughlin (Rebecca Kirkland photo)

For those science warriors who introduce new methods to control water pollution, it’s a battle of sorts out there, and it’s raging.

And a soil scientist in North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is on the front lines.

Research shows that the top polluter of our state’s waterways is sediment -- any particles that water can move and eventually deposit -- and the resultant turbidity that wash down from construction sites, farms and eroding stream banks. Not phosphorus, not nitrogen, but sediment, which can contain both of those pollutants and many more.

“Our lakes and streams typically turn brown after rains, illustrating that sediment and turbidity pollution is the biggest challenge to water quality,” says Dr. Rich McLaughlin, associate professor and Extension specialist in the college’s Soil Science Department.

“Sediment,” he says, “is the most common pollutant affecting North Carolina’s waterways, impacting a range of aquatic organisms, reducing reservoir capacity and hurting their aesthetic value. In many areas, the major source can be construction sites, including roadway projects, which have erosion rates a hundred times greater than farmland.

“In fact,” McLaughlin notes, “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed rules that require runoff from many construction sites to be treated so they are nearly free of turbidity before release.”

The 200-page EPA draft document that proposes those rules, including a new minimum water-quality standard for construction sites of 30 acres or more, comprises some of McLaughlin’s research, such as his development of a technique that uses polyacrylamide (PAM) to rapidly settle clay particles by bonding with them. PAM is a water-soluble, synthetic polymer commonly used in various water treatment processes, including municipal water supplies and wastewater, and as a food processing aid.

While current stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) effectively handle larger sediment particles, they usually aren’t as effective at trapping smaller silt, clay and organic particles, McLaughlin says.

“Speed is essential when you are trying to clean a deluge of stormwater before it leaves a construction site and flows into the watershed,” he says in a recent Soil Science Department newsletter. “PAMs are now used on less than 5 percent of North Carolina’s construction sites each year, but we hope to increase their use to 100 percent by teaching methods to all practitioners in the state.”

McLaughlin works at the Sediment and Erosion Control Research and Education Facility at N.C. State University’s Lake Wheeler Field Laboratory. With funding from the North Carolina Sedimentation Control Commission, McLaughlin developed the facility along with colleague Dr. Greg Jennings, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department professor and Extension specialist. They, with Extension associates Jan Patterson and Scott King, also developed required certification courses for state Department of Transportation contractors and engineers involved in erosion and sediment control practices. Patterson and King teach most of the workshops.

Opening new fronts on the war on erosion, after developing new techniques at Lake Wheeler, McLaughlin and his research team apply them to construction projects around the state.

In a recent project with DOT in western North Carolina, his team demonstrated how to bring turbidity down to levels acceptable for sensitive trout stream waters. Study sites included two road paving projects near Lenoir in Caldwell County and one north of Boone in Watauga County, where researchers compared new erosion control techniques to “standard” DOT erosion control designs: mostly rock checks and small sediment-trapping basins.

Each study site included the installation of a drainage ditch adjacent to the road, where DOT had placed control measures to reduce the sediment amount discharged from the site.

“We portioned these ditches into experimental sections, each one hydrologically distinct from the others by the periodic placement of drainage culverts that run under the road, discharging stormwater off the project site,” McLaughlin says.

The study evaluated two things: how well alternative new “check dams,” composed of cylindrical fiber or plastic mesh bags filled with either straw or coconut-husk “coir” fibers slowed stormwater flow, and the effectiveness of adding granular PAM to these new BMPs.

PAM can be manufactured in a variety of charged forms to be cationic, anionic or non-ionic (neutral), but each is intended to increase the particle binding that occurs in treated water. This significantly increases the sedimentation rate by increasing the sediment particles’ sizes.

“Most applications involve the anionic PAM because it is non-toxic to aquatic organisms, so in this study we used anionic APS 705, which has been approved for stormwater treatment by the N.C. Division of Water Quality,” he says.

The study results indicate a significant advantage in using the new sediment control systems, particularly those with PAM added.

“Overall,” McLaughlin says, “we can capture 99 percent of the sediment with all the systems in place except PAM, but turbidity will still be high. Add the PAM in the right way and the turbidity can also be reduced by more than 90 percent.”

McLaughlin recommends that the new sediment BMPs be more widely used by the DOT on similar roadway improvement projects, particularly in areas adjacent to sensitive habitat waters.

DOT listened to McLaughlin’s reports from the field and lab. The department is starting to use the fiber check dam system instead of rock in ditches. The proven combination of fiber dams and PAM is likely to be applicable to other construction sites, and could lead to significant reductions in stormwater impacts on adjacent streams and lakes, he says.

Also, based in part on one of McLaughlin’s research projects, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources now uses his porous baffled skimmer sediment basin design as its new standard of practice. And a current state Department of Transportation project near High Point has effectively employed all of McLaughlin’s approaches.

How much does it cost to deploy these new techniques?

While it’s not easy to compare cost estimates per device among the various BMPs, the new BMPs are not significantly more expensive than standard BMPs, based on overall average costs, McLaughlin says.

“The differences for each project,” he says, “would likely be less than a few hundred dollars, very small in comparison to the total project costs.

“It also appears that the new BMPs are a reasonable substitute to the standard BMPs with regards to their overall water storage volume capacity,” McLaughlin adds, “as their calculated storage volumes for the project sites were equal to or exceeded those of the standard BMPs.

“We’re working with some large developers interested in using this strategy,” McLaughlin says in the newsletter. “I believe it could have a profound impact in North Carolina because it makes good environmental and business sense.”

And that means significant advances in the scientific war on water pollution.


For sedimentation and turbidity fact sheets by McLaughlin and his team, go here:
http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/about/publications.php#Erosion,SedimentandTurbidityControl


-- Art Latham

Posted by Art at 11:05 AM

January 30, 2009

Boone wetland project under way

Cooperative Extension is working with the town of Boone to build a wetland that will treat storm water from 30 acres of impervious parking lots, roads and buildings, removing sediments, nutrients, heavy metals, chemicals and bacteria by natural means and preventing them from entering the nearby New River.

Read more in The Mountain Times

Posted by Dave at 01:28 PM

January 15, 2009

BAE Stormwater Engineering Group makes it happen for Wal-Mart

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Bill Lord points out the profile of the permeable concrete used in the Wal-Mart parking lot. (Photo by Art Latham)

At first, it seemed that Wal-Mart might be running into substantial regulatory roadblocks to its plans for a new “Super Center” on U.S. Highway 64 in Nashville, N.C.

Due to anticipated adverse wetland and stream impacts, in 2007 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Division of Water Quality had rejected Wal-Mart’s original site plan, which didn’t include room to meet stormwater-control regulations and destroyed almost an acre of wetlands.

Stormwater runoff from the site eventually drains to the Tar River’s nutrient-sensitive waters, then into Pamlico Sound, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program.

“Flooding and nutrient pollution associated with development and reduced pervious surfaces are major concerns nationwide,” says Bill Lord, environmental educator with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. “Pollution sources in urban stormwater include automobiles, associated roads and parking lots and contributions from atmospheric deposition.”

At about the same time Wal-Mart was facing its regulatory challenges, Dr. Bill Hunt, assistant professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) at N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and N.C. State’s Stormwater Engineering Group leader, was looking for a shopping center site on which to conduct low impact development (LID) stormwater practices research.

This was part of an EPA 319(h)-funded project that required installing at least two research-validated stormwater best management practices (BMPs). LID strategies help develop a site so it mimics on-site water’s pre-development properties, distribution and effects on the earth's surface.

The Wal-Mart project seemed a likely prospect, so the group, located in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, proposed a win-win solution.

Hunt, a professional engineer and N.C. Cooperative Extension urban stormwater management specialist; Dan Line, a BAE extension associate; and Rob Brown, BAE graduate research assistant, partnered with site designer Paul Smith of Stocks Engineering of Raleigh to create a LID design to lessen the project’s water-quality impact and gain regulatory agency approvals.

Wal-Mart chose bioretention and permeable pavement as its stormwater BMPs, and Smith included stormwater wetlands to further meet water quality and quantity requirements. Such BMPs reduce polluting nitrogen, phosphorus and water input from new developments such as the Wal-Mart site.

Because of NCSU’s involvement and the fact that Smith had reduced the negatively impacted, naturally occurring wetlands area to .1 acre, DWQ accepted the compromise design with undersized stormwater wetlands and larger bioretention beds. The agency also accepted a combined permeable pavement/bioretention system that can treat approximately two inches of rainfall, rather than the one inch usually required.

The Wal-Mart now has 47,600 square feet of permeable concrete parking areas, eight bioretention beds and 20,000- and 10,000-square-foot stormwater wetlands that accept runoff from the store roof, parking lot and out parcels. That includes runoff from 1.47 million square feet of permeable concrete parking and associated underground water storage areas.

And as of 2008, Nashville has a more environmentally friendly Super Wal-Mart.

However, the story wasn’t over yet.

“Based on prior experience,” says Lord, “Stormwater Group members advised the engineer and contractors to protect the bioretention beds from sedimentation during construction, since sediment from unstable parking lot base layers and soil clog and contaminate them if it rains in the interlude between bed-filling and parking lot paving. And it rained.”

In this case, the contractor had filled the beds with a custom nitrogen- and phosphorus-removing soil mix after the parking lot was covered in a gravel-and-sand mix and the beds covered with geotextile, a woven polyester fabric, to protect them from sedimentation before paving. After the parking lot was paved and the bioretention beds planted and mulched, several drained very slowly and remained excessively wet for several days after a rain. Apparently, a fine granite-based sediment layer accumulation in the fill media’s top layer was inhibiting drainage.

Indeed, sediment layer analysis showed high silt and clay levels several inches under the bioretention beds’ surfaces.

“Although attempts were made to protect bioretention beds from sedimentation,” says Lord, “subsequent poor drainage and investigation shows that geotextile provides insufficient protection from sediment. Based on our experience with this project, we need to do more to protect bioretention beds during construction.”

Rob Brown will observe and monitor the poorly draining beds for a year before removing the sediment layer from each to contrast performance before and after sediment removal.

“We are not only collecting water-quality data on the stormwater BMPs as part of a bioretention research project,” says Lord, “but we are also documenting the BMP system’s planning, construction and performance to help us learn how to do a better job on future projects. We present this information as a case study, and it’s all part of the learning process.

“Every site is different, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with Wal-Mart and to monitor the BMPs’ performance over time,” he says. “The design engineers, contractor and Wal-Mart were extremely cooperative during construction, but stormwater BMPs are relatively new technologies and we are learning as we go, even on this project.

“As with all of our field work,” Lord says, “the Stormwater Group, contractors and owners continue to learn from the collective experience and we continue to refine our recommendations on BMP construction and maintenance.”


The Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources helped fund this research project.

-A. Latham


Posted by Art at 08:46 AM

January 12, 2009

BAE, Extension, Boone team install water-saving cistern

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Eric Gustaveson and Andrea Gimlin demonstrate the relative size of a recently installed 5,000-gallon water-saving cistern. (Photo by Art Latham)

The large cistern, pipes and related gutters were installed in July in Boone by a team led by Jason Wright, Extension associate with North Carolina State University’s Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department’s Stormwater Team in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Wendy Patoprsty, North
Carolina Cooperative Extension natural resources agent, helped choose the site.

“The Town of Boone actively supports water conservation and recycling,” says Andrea Gimlin, Boone’s Every Drop Counts water conservation program coordinator. “Our water conservation education program supports our philosophy of managing the environment in a manner that does not despoil, exhaust or extinguish water, our natural resource.”

Water stored in the cistern, which first flows from a 2,800-square-foot town maintenance building roof, is used for street and vehicle washing and for street salting, says Gustaveson, who is facilities maintenance superintendent for the Town of Boone’s parks and its Greenway Trail.

“This installation is part of a demonstration and evaluation of rainwater harvesting and cistern technology in North Carolina research project funded by a state Division of Water Quality grant,” says the Stormwater Team’s Wright.

The project includes water-harvesting installations at four sites across the state, including large cisterns already in place at Fayetteville Technical Community College Horticultural Center in Cumberland County, the Craven County Animal Shelter and the Guilford County Agricultural Center.

“The grant includes monitoring the Guilford County cistern to determine the effect of cisterns on water quality and monitoring water use associated with each cistern to determine the overall impact on stormwater,” he says.

-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 10:26 AM

December 01, 2008

Moore County officials focus on water re-use techniques

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Dr. Mike Hoover, left, professor of Soil Science and Extension soils specialist at NC State University, describes hands-on technology demonstrations and educational displays at the training site. (Photo by Rebecca Kirtland)

Moore County community leaders visited NC State University’s Lake Wheeler Road Field Training Facility in Raleigh in October to learn about the importance of water-use and re-use technologies in community resource development.

Moore County Cooperative Extension Center personnel helped design the Moore County Leaders Decentralized Water and Wastewater Planning Forum at which U.S. and Canadian industry leaders shared their technologies and experiences.

Also speaking at the J. Edward Booth Field Learning Laboratory, NC State researchers and extension specialists from the College’s Soil Science and Biological and Agricultural Engineering departments covered these wastewater-related topics: centralized management of decentralized water-use technologies, including water re-use; preliminary soil and site assessments for on-site wastewater systems in developments, groundwater planning, water re-use standards and challenges of water reuse in affordable housing.

“The forum provided a direct and immediate linkage and transfer of research-based wastewater treatment technology trends from NC State University researchers to local county decision-makers,” said Dr. Mike Hoover, professor and North Carolina Cooperative Extension on-site waste disposal specialist in the Soil Science Department in NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Our community leaders must make important water and wastewater infrastructure decisions that will affect the future of our county and these leaders valued coming to NC State to not only receive research-based information, but also to have a one-on-one exchange with researchers and industry experts in this field,” said Craven Hudson, Moore County Cooperative Extension director.

The Moore County group included two county commissioners, the county manager, the planning director and planning board members, public works director, county engineer, environmental health staff and a Sustainable Sandhills Association leader.

After the leaders viewed on-site wastewater technologies and discussed wastewater re-use techniques at Lake Wheeler Labs, they toured water re-use developments in Chatham County, including a stop at “The Preserve” development, where they saw a community-scale water re-use system in action.

The Booth Field Learning Laboratory is a hub for hands-on field training and demonstrations focusing on environmental uses of land conducted throughout the Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory.

Related industries financially sponsored the forum through donations to the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation donation.
-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 02:02 PM

August 28, 2008

Middle school gets rain garden

Fulfilling two missions at once - helping the environment and creating a living, breathing, growing teaching tool.

Those are the twin goals of a new 1,200-square-foot rain garden in front of Williston Middle School on South 10th Street in Wilmington.

Officials from several state and local agencies, including North Carolina Cooperative Extension, teamed with school officials on a wet and humid Wednesday morning to plant 85 trees, shrubs and other vegetation in a shallow hollow that had been excavated near Williston's main entrance.

Read more in the Wilmington StarNewsOnline

Posted by Dave at 08:45 AM

July 14, 2008

N.C. State presenters well-represented

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Dr. Greg Jennings explains a stream restoration project on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville to tour participants.

Several North Carolina State University presenters were among the 300 engineers, city, county and federal officials who attended a university-sponsored Low Impact Development summit in Asheville June 23 - 24.

The summit addressed planning, policy and financial aspects of making Low Impact Development (LID) principles a reality.

LID is an alternative to traditional site design, incorporating water treatment structures into the landscape and a building’s “footprint,” the amount of earth it covers. LID features are research-based stormwater best management practices (BMPs) constructed to mimic pre-development hydrologic conditions. The BMPs improve water quality by reducing surface runoff, erosion and pollution not from specifically identifiable sources, such as waste treatment or industrial sites.

“With today’s economic benefits and available flexible designs, LID principles are becoming a more popular, attractive way to treat water quality on sites,” says Dr. Bill Hunt, of N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ (CALS) Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department (BAE), and North Carolina Cooperative Extension urban stormwater management specialist.

How popular?

Attentive attendees hailed from 24 states, 19 institutions of higher education, 41 municipalities, 17 counties, the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the Pentagon, as well as from more than 70 private businesses and 17 sponsors and exhibitors.

N.C. State presenters and their topics included Hunt (bioretention, permeable pavement, water harvesting); Dr. Lee-Anne Milburn, of CALS’ Landscape Architecture Department, who told an approving crowd that North Carolina’s LID manual should be ready by Jan. 1, 2009; Matthew Jones, BAE (LID coldwater stream considerations); and Dr. Rich McLaughlin of CALS’ Soil Sciences Department (construction BMPs).

Five concurrent “hands-on” sessions included workshops on permeable pavement by Dr. Bruce Ferguson, University of Georgia; water harvesting by Hunt; and LID site assessment by Milburn and Christy Perrin, of Cooperative Extension’s Watershed Education for Communities and Officials, in CALS' Agricultural and Resource Economics Department.

Dr. Greg Jennings (BAE Professor and Extension specialist) hosted a tour of several stream restoration sites in Buncombe County, including on the French Broad River and a stream that feeds it through the Biltmore Estate. Landscape architect Jon Calabria, of N.C. State’s Water Quality Group and French Broad Training Center coordinator, hosted a stormwater BMP tour at the North Carolina Arboretum near Asheville.

Summit hosts included CALS’ BAE, N.C. State’s Water Quality Group and College of Design and Cooperative Extension. Also hosting: U.S. Agriculture Department Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service’s Southern Regional Water Program, the N.C. Environmental and Natural Resources Department’s Division of Water Quality, the Low Impact Development Center and the Center for Watershed Protection.

Posted by Art at 01:17 PM

Sherman helps reduce waste at Eno Festival

recycling station

Festival-goers, volunteers and vendors worked together to make this year's Eno Festival trash-free, and their efforts paid off. Of the 5,300 pounds of trash generated over the three-day event, 93 percent will never see a landfill. Instead, it will be composted or recycled.

The secret, according to Cooperative Extension's composting specialist, Rhonda Sherman, is for "everyone - vendors, event organizers and festival goers" to work together with a common goal in mind. Vendors signed a contract stipulating they would use compostable plates, cutlery and even straws and that they would avoid single condiment servings (those little foil packets)."

Festival organizers erected 12 trash recovery stations and staffed them with volunteers to help festival goers sort their trash into items they could compost or recycle and those that had to go into the trash. Those who attend the festival did their part by using the trash stations and even bringing litter they'd found on the way to the station.

Of the 5,300 pounds of waste generated, 93 percent or 4,929 pounds will not be thrown away. Instead, 70 percent will be composted and 23 percent recycled. Because of plastics and other items brought by attendees the event was not 100 percent trash-free, but 93 percent is, "an excellent recovery rate, especially when you consider that each North Carolina resident generates 1.34 tons each in a year," according to Ellen Lorscheider, in the state's Solid Waste Planning & Program Management Branch. Landfills are difficult to site, and construction costs are rising.

Sherman also states, "We've been getting calls from other event planners, asking how they can duplicate the Eno Festival's success. Composting is a wonderful way for large events and individuals to reduce the amount of waste they generate." This is the Festival for the Eno's 17th year of recycling waste.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension partners with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of North Carolinians.

Posted by Natalie at 08:20 AM

June 26, 2008

E-Conservation efforts timely as energy costs rise

Leigh Guth
Leigh Guth, Lincoln County Extension agent, left, helps insulate pipes during an energy audit.

As energy costs continue to rise, consumers are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption and save money. Through a program known as E-Conservation, North Carolina Cooperative Extension is helping consumers understand what they can do at home to conserve energy.

Through E-Conservation – on the Web at www.e-conservation.net -- Extension has partnered with the State Energy Office on an educational program that helps homeowners reduce their energy consumption and save money on their utility bills. This program is offered in 78 of the state’s 101 Cooperative Extension county centers across the state. The interdisciplinary program, which started in 2005, involves family and consumer sciences agents, as well as natural resources, agriculture and 4-H agents.

Energy conservation has become an important issue for consumers and communities for a number of reasons, according to Dr. Sarah Kirby, associate professor and Extension housing specialist in charge of E-Conservation.

“Most of the energy sources we use are nonrenewable, and therefore limited,” Kirby said. “And the cost of these energy sources is on the rise.” In addition, energy conservation is directly tied to water conservation because energy is required to treat, heat and pump water. This was especially critical last spring in parts of North Carolina that were still conserving water in the spring under the worst drought in the state’s history.

Energy resources are becoming scarce and more challenging for family budgets, she said. Finally, consumers are beginning to see the connection between energy use, fossil fuel expenditures and the environmental impacts that contribute to air and water pollution, as well as global warming. To help reduce these environmental impacts, consumers need to be more thoughtful and efficient in their energy usage, Kirby said.

Power companies also are interested in conservation because many face the need to expand their power production by building new plants. Since the cost of new power plants will be staggering, energy conservation is one way to reduce or delay that need and save the monetary impact on consumers.

“There’s an issue, and it’s time to address that issue,” Kirby said.
Extension agents conduct E-Conservation workshops, designed to train homeowners on ways to use energy efficiently and conserve energy in their homes. Those who participate in the workshops receive a home energy conservation kit, complete with a light-emitting diode (LED) night light, thermometers for the refrigerator and for checking home water temperature, foam wall gaskets for blocking air leakage behind electrical outlets, a compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulb and a faucet aerator.

Fifteen counties have offered homeowners an opportunity to sign up for a home energy audit by a certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater, offered at a discounted price. In the pilot phase of the program, audits were offered at no cost. Now, homeowners pay a fee of $100 for an audit, a bargain compared with the $500 market value for the service. The audit program focuses on existing homes that are up to 2,000 square feet, five years old and have one heating and cooling system.

“Homeowners have to work with what they have – they can’t walk away from their largest investment,” Kirby said.

The City of Rocky Mount used Housing and Urban Development funds to pay the cost of about 12-15 audits aimed at helping low-income residents to conserve their energy dollars.

Jim Burke
Gaston County Agent Jim Burke, left, listens as a rater explains energy-saving measures during an audit.

The audits included a thorough examination of the home and a blower door test to identify air leakage. Raters inspect mechanical, heating and ventilation systems, insulation, and conduct a walk-through inspection of current home appliances. Following the audit, each homeowner receives a standardized report that lists specific no cost/low cost improvements and higher cost improvements that could made to the home in order to make it more energy efficient according to Amy Chilcote, Extension associate with E-Conservation.

Bigger changes, or retrofits include installing programmable thermostats or purchasing high-efficiency Energy Star appliances to replace older, less efficient appliances. A lower-cost energy conservation measure would include switching incandescent light bulbs to CFLs, Chilcote said. In addition to techonology changes, auditors also discuss behavioral changes that can impact energy efficiency and use.

Once a home audit is conducted, Extension agents work with the homeowner participants for one year, gathering follow-up data at six-month and one-year intervals to find out how homeowners responded to the summary information that was provided to them. During the year, the homeowners’ utility usage is also captured. Thus far, data show that participants:
· Performed a number of no-cost, low-cost and high-cost retrofits;
· Reduced their kilowatt usage;
· Reduced their carbon footprint;
· Increased their families comfort level; and
· Saved money.

In Buncombe County, FCS Agent Nancy Ostergaard conducts E-Conservation workshops each month during winter and incorporates conservation principles in the home maintenance course she offers five times a year. She also provides energy-related news articles to various publications monthly. Following Hurricane Katrina, when energy costs soared, clients became more motivated to conserve, and they began to see conservation as more than just a winter issue, she said.

Ostergaard says that this year 15 clients have had energy audits conducted. The response has been favorable, and last spring, some clients were waiting to use their tax refunds to make recommended retrofits. By fall, she hopes to have more information on energy cost savings for clients.

In Orange County, FCS Agent Deborah Taylor has been conducting energy programming since E-Conservation began. Her efforts even inspired her county government to form an Energy Conservation Team.

“What has helped is that I’m in a county where people are very concerned about energy and the environment, so it wasn’t a hard sell for me,” she said.

Nineteen of those participating in Orange County energy workshops have also commissioned energy audits. Though data collection is still underway, Taylor reports that clients are responding to the audit recommendations. “It’s rewarding to hear what people have to say,” she said. “A lot of people report energy savings and cost savings.”

Among the major retrofits her clients have undertaken are installing new energy-efficient windows, buying Energy Star appliances to replace older appliances and installing CFLs where possible.

Taylor also developed a Web-based program on lighting choices. The site gives consumers information about different types of light sources, including LEDs and CFLS as well as the applications for which each is intended.

An E-Conservation video on “10 Low-Cost, No-Cost Ways to Save Energy” is running in the local lobby of Piedmont Electric Membership Corp., giving consumers who drop in tips on saving energy. Taylor also has developed a brochure on “Energy Myth Busters” that she wants to provide for consumers.

With no end in sight to the rising energy costs, consumers will only become more interested in finding ways to save, making Extension and E-Conservation an increasingly valuable resource.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 09:11 AM

May 30, 2008

IPM program helps schools manage pests safely

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Dr. Godfrey Nalyanya, right, of the School IPM Program helps school systems control insect pests safely.

Since the passage of the Schoolchildren’s Health Act in 2006, North Carolina public schools have been finding safer and more effective ways to reduce pests on school grounds, according to a report by school integrated pest management experts at North Carolina State University.

Based on a 2007 survey of state public school maintenance directors and facilities supervisors, 61 percent of school districts have adopted integrated pest management programs. Over 71 percent of North Carolina school districts apply pesticides only as needed for pest problems, and 80 percent notify parents, guardians and staff whenever a pesticide will be applied on school grounds.

Telephone surveys of public school maintenance directors and facilities supervisors were conducted in June and July 2007. Out of 115 school districts in North Carolina, 114 participated in the survey. The Center for Urban Affairs and Community Services at N.C. State University conducted the interviews.

Passed in July 2006, the Schoolchildren’s Health Act (HB 1502) mandated North Carolina public schools to notify parents, guardians and school staff at least 72 hours in advance of pesticide applications to school grounds. In addition, the bill required schools to adopt an integrated pest management policy and IPM program by Oct. 11, 2011. Integrated pest management (IPM) is a comprehensive approach that combines biological, cultural and chemical control tactics to prevent and solve pest problems.

Dr. Godfrey Nalyanya, head of the School IPM Program in the Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University, designed the survey to assess the status of IPM implementation in North Carolina public schools. North Carolina school pest management practices have not been surveyed since 2003, two years before the School IPM Program began training on IPM implementation in schools.

According to the report, 71 percent of the school districts with IPM programs adopted them between 2006 and 2007. Nearly all respondents to the survey said they were aware of the Schoolchildren’s Health Act, and 95 percent said they knew about the IPM training program at N.C. State University.

“It is clear that the Schoolchildren’s Health Act gave many school districts the impetus to implement IPM programs, as seen by the significant increase in the number of school districts that adopted IPM programs in 2006 and 2007,” Nalyanya says. “Training workshops and educational materials available from NCSU’s School IPM Program have provided the necessary information and technical support that enable school districts to adopt IPM programs more easily.”

For indoor pest problems, 82 percent of school districts incorporate non-chemical pest control methods into their pest management plans. The most popular tactics are glue boards, caulking and cleaning up clutter. In fact, 54 percent of respondents said that pest control contractors often recommend additional measures such as repairs and sanitation practices to keep pests to a minimum. Nearly all respondents using IPM tactics reported that they were effective.

Most respondents reported that they used pesticides in classrooms and hallways as the situation warranted, rather than relying on monthly treatments. The exception was in food preparation areas, where most schools still use monthly and bi-monthly treatments.

For weed control, respondents reported that their weapon of choice was mowing, followed by pesticides. When pesticides are used, most school districts apply them on weekends or after school hours.

“There is significant progress in implementing IPM programs, reducing pesticide use and in changing the patterns of pesticide use on school property. These actions are definitely helping to provide a better quality of school environment for children to learn,” Nalyanya says.

The report concludes with recommendations to continue IPM training and education, expand training efforts to IPM for outdoor pests and weeds and encourage more school districts to formalize their IPM programs. A copy of the report can be found at http://schoolipm.ncsu.edu/documents/2008SurveyReport.pdf.

-R. Hallberg

Posted by Natalie at 11:03 AM

May 09, 2008

Drought is not over yet

dry pond
A pond at a Cary park shows the effects of drought. (Art Latham photo)

Given the recent spring rainfall, some might think the worst of this past year’s drought is history. That’s understandable, since ponds on farms or in local parks are looking full again, and some days there’s even standing water in the roadside ditches.

Droughts, however, like everything in nature, are cyclical.

Meanwhile, the demand on North Carolina’s natural resources, including our finite water supplies, is increasing as rapidly as the commercial and residential development that triggers that demand.

As of early May 2008, about half of our state remains in a drought status that ranges from moderate to severe, and several counties in the state’s south-central area remain in severe drought, according to the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council. But even if the drought eases, albeit temporarily, researchers and educators at N.C. State University and in North Carolina Cooperative Extension will continue to do all they can to ensure that we have enough clean water to drink, despite the pressures of steadily increasing population and ever-decreasing supplies.

These scientists have developed not only water-saving but water-cleansing technologies to keep poisons from entering our ever-scarcer drinking water.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences researchers in the departments of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE), Soil Science and Crop Science have developed best management practices (BMPs), various engineered ways both to save rainwater and keep it pure enough to drink. And Cooperative Extension agents in all 100 counties and on the Cherokee Reservation pass that information along to the public.

For instance, rain gardens and other BMPs such as constructed wetlands, swales, permeable pavement, retention ponds, dry detention and infiltration basins manage rainfall when there’s too much of it. They control silt, the top polluter, and cleanse water of poisons: chemicals such as agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers, pesticides, petroleum products, litter, pet and yard waste, fecal coliform and metals.

“In wet seasons or dry, water-quality BMPs also help treat huge amounts of drinkable water,” says Bill Lord, Cooperative Extension area specialized agent for environmental education.

“Most of our BMPs recharge groundwater,” Lord says. “For instance, every bit of a one-inch rainfall that pours into a water retention bed like a rain garden goes back into the water table, cleansed of nitrogen and phosphorus.”

Lord is a regular on UNC-TV’s weekend “Almanac Gardener” series, which will focus this season on helping home gardeners weather drought, says host Mike Gray. Segments from April to August will include weekly water-saving topics such as recycled water use, drip irrigation, drought-tolerant landscape plants, water-saving mulches, instal-ling cisterns, constructing rain barrels and rain gardens and more.

While neither researchers nor Cooperative Extension agents have yet discovered how to produce rain, Extension agents and local partners have worked for more than a year to install rain-catching “water-harvesting systems” such as those to be shown on “Almanac Gardener.” The systems — cisterns or rain barrels — replace water uses ranging from lawn, commercial turf and horticultural crops irrigation to toilet flushing and vehicle washing.

“Cisterns capture rooftop rainfall runoff and use it in place of potable water supplies,” says Dr. Bill Hunt, BAE assistant professor and Extension urban storm-water management specialist and a registered professional engineer. “That saves water and money and is less demanding on the aquifers.” Moreover, cisterns are a natural choice for storm-water managers, Hunt says.

“For some, it’s hard to see how other BMPs pay for themselves,” he explains. “With a wetland, for instance, you often can’t see immediate or ultimate benefits to the aquifer. But with a cistern, it’s easy to see the payback in money saved by using this device.”

Getting a head start on the demand, several years ago a BAE student design team created a mathematical model since used statewide to size cisterns. Based on that work, Matthew Jones, currently a BAE graduate student, developed a user-friendly Web site that helps consumers decide if they need a cistern, and how to build one. (See sidebar.)

“We have refined the model that takes into consideration differing rainfall amounts in different parts of the state,” says Hunt. “CALS alumni from several firms have contacted me to say they used this model to design their water harvesting systems.”

From North Carolina’s mountains to the sea, many College, BAE and Extension centers’ water conservation education projects include cisterns.

“The severe drought, coupled with declining aquifer water levels, has made water conservation a priority for North Carolina,” says Charles Humphrey, Extension area specialized agent for environmental education based in Craven County.

Last fall, Humphrey, New Bern officials and the East Carolina Council of Governments partnered to install water harvesting systems at a municipal building and elsewhere.

At the city fleet management center, a pipe and gutters divert more than 1,500 gallons to the 3,000-gallon cistern for each inch of rain that falls on the building’s roof. Water then is pumped to a tanker truck used to irrigate city park grounds.

“As a result, the city is reducing potable water consumption,” says Humphrey, whose Extension program areas include education, septic systems, storm-water and agricultural BMPs, wetlands, general water quality and water conservation.

Humphrey also installed water capture systems at the Cooperative Extension Center (the County Agriculture Center) and has sold discounted rain barrels.

Along the coast, thanks to a grant Hunt procured, a cistern is in place at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harker’s Island.

In the Bottoms neighborhood in Wilmington, Jason Wright, BAE and Extension associate in coastal storm-water management, along with Christy Perrin and Patrick Beggs of Extension’s Watershed Education for Communities and Officials (WECO), helped install several mid-sized cisterns and distributed 24 rain barrels to inner-city residents. Also, a BAE senior class team is designing a large cistern for nearby Wrightsville Beach.

In Eastern North Carolina, Dwane Jones, Cooperative Extension area specialized agent for environmental education, helped install cisterns for Goldsboro, at the Cooperative Extension Center at Snow Hill, and in Lenoir County to wash vehicles at the Kinston motor fleet operations center.

In the Piedmont, at Guilford County’s Cooperative Extension Center, an EPA grant funded a Carolina Yards and Neighborhoods water conservation and water quality program.

Karen Neill, Extension’s Guilford County urban horticulture agent and an “Almanac Gardener” regular, reports that a state Department of Environment and Natural Resources grant helped install 550- and 1,100-gallon cisterns to irrigate demonstration gardens and to construct a new wetland and rain garden designed by BAE’s Wright at the county center. Neill also worked with Page High School classes to convert an old holding pond to a wetlands, which cleans water more efficiently.

In Western North Carolina , in Buncombe County, Jon Calabria, French Broad Training Center coordinator, BAE Extension associate in water quality and a landscape architect, obtained grant funds to add a cistern and landscape-watering pump under the bonsai pavilion at the North Carolina Arboretum. The arboretum also installed two cisterns to provide the necessary pure rainwater for its crafts pavilion and is increasing its rain barrel use.

Wendy Patoprsty, Extension agent for natural resources and environmental education in Watauga County, and Hunt are involved with an upcoming Town of Boone municipal building cistern installation.

While the demand for cisterns is growing, rain barrel demand is increasing even faster, probably for a good reason.

Dr. Garry Grabow, BAE assistant professor, Extension specialist and a licensed professional engineer, is working on a project to evaluate technologies to manage turf irrigation and prevent over-watering. His co-researchers include Dr. Rod Huffman, associate BAE professor, and two Crop Science Department turfgrass experts, Dr. Dan Bowman, associate professor, and Dr. Grady Miller, professor.

“It takes a lot of water to irrigate,” says Grabow. “To apply an inch of water to 1,000 square feet of turf requires 623 gallons. So ‘fully functional’ cistern systems are expensive, which is why most have been installed at government or other institutional places that have money.”

In February, the College’s American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers student branch converted 10 250-gallon containers into rain barrels. After the story appeared on WRAL and Fox TV, the barrels sold out in 10 minutes.

In Carteret County, Anne Edwards, Extension agent for agriculture and horticulture says, “We sent 42 of the 60-to-70-gallon rain barrels home with people after our rain barrel workshop last summer.

“They’ve been very successful,” she says. “People who have them are just so pleased. I know for me, every time I turn the spigot it just makes me smile. It gives a ridiculous amount of joy just to be using rain water.” Extension’s Karen Neill says, “In Guilford County, since the 2002 drought, when we sold 1,500, Extension has sold rain barrels. We now average about 300 a year.”

Wendi Hartup, Extension area specialized agent for environmental education for Forsyth and Stokes counties, ran a rain barrel-making workshop in April. Other Extension agents across the state are following suit.

To initiate drought-related lifelines in other ways, Extension agents developed educational Web pages and other initiatives.

In Eastern North Carolina, Dr. Diana Rashash, Onslow County-based area specialized agent for environmental education, posts a newsletter and other drought information regularly.

From the west, Lenny Rogers, Extension’s Alexander County director, reports that “at the request of our county commissioners, we are doing a major educational thrust on water conservation. Our 4-H agent highlights these tips with many after-school groups, we are doing newspaper and radio articles and are offering this topic as a program through our local speakers’ bureau. Plus, we developed a water conservation fact sheet and use a Power Point ‘Jeopardy’ game.”

And Eric Caldwell, Extension’s Transylvania County director, and his team put together a Web page with links to many other drought-related sites.

Several times in 2007, Extension agents took the message to the people through other media.

Mitch Woodward, Extension area specialized agent for agriculture and Neuse River coordinator in Wake County, offered practical tips for homeowners in coping with the drought. He appeared on Fox 50, WRAL-TV and Capitol Broadcasting’s “News and Views with Chris Fitzsimon” on WRAL-FM (101.5) and WCMC-FM (99.9), as well as on WRAL’s Web site and many North Carolina News Network-affiliated stations.

This placed him squarely on the “News and Views” “top newsmakers for 2007” list and helped the public understand the implications of the drought to our water supplies.
In Lincoln County, Kevin Starr, Extension county director, submitted articles to the local media. In Caldwell County, Allen Caldwell, county Extension director and two City of Lenoir officials appeared on a cable TV show and agricultural agent Seth Nagy appeared on a second show to explain how to reduce water use. Caldwell also submitted three news articles to local print media. Those efforts resulted in an approximate 15 percent water use reduction, a city official said.

In these driest of times, educating the public about water conservation and creating means for them to save water continue as among Extension and the College’s highest priorities.

Because even if it’s raining outside as you read this, remember this: Researchers say tree core samples dating as far back at 1548 A.D. show the piedmont has averaged one to two extended droughts — four years or longer — per century in the past.

And with droughts, as with all else in nature, what goes around comes around.

-- Art Latham


Posted by Art at 10:10 AM

More drought-related information is available

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ multi-media response to drought conditions — both through Cooperative Extension offices and academic departments — has been rapid and reliable.

Here are some examples:

• UNC-TV’s Almanac Gardener features drought-related segments during its 2008 25th anniversary season: www.unctv.org/gardener

• Rain barrel information, including how to make one: www.unctv.org/gardener/rainbarrel.html

• The College’s “Making a Difference” drought information page with CALS-generated stories and links, written and produced by the Communication Services Department: www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/difference/drought

• How we use our water:
www.ncsu.edu/project/calscommblogs/news/archives/2008/02/what_do_we_use.html

• Water harvesting: www.ncsu.edu/project/calscommblogs/news/archives/2008/02/experts_offer_r.html

• Weathering the drought in the landscape: www.ncsu.edu/project/calscommblogs/news/archives/2008/02/weathering_the.html

From the CALS Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
• Cisterns, including a computer model to determine the right size for various situations: www.ncsu.edu/project/calscommblogs/news/archives/2008/02/weathering_the.html

• What rain gardens are and how they work: www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/bioretention

• How to build a backyard rain garden: www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/raingarden

-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 10:00 AM

April 04, 2008

Water conservation tips from Cooperative Extension

Tune in this weekend to hear Cooperative Extension's own Mitch Woodward of Wake County discuss how to conserve water during dry conditions and how to make the most of limited water supplies in your lawn and garden. Join Woodward and Bruce Ferrell, host of the North Carolina Report, this weekend at stations across the state. If there's not a signal near you, the show will be posted for one week on the same Web page that lists the affiliate stations.

Posted by Natalie at 03:57 PM

March 05, 2008

Ort discusses drought with state climatologist

Weather experts say the current drought is the worst on record. As this historic drought continues, there is growing concern about what extreme water shortages mean for residents and businesses across the state. In this Inside Extension interview, Dr. Jon Ort of North Carolina Cooperative Extension talks with State Climatologist Ryan Boyles about the drought.

Posted by Natalie at 10:27 AM

December 13, 2007

Stewards provide water-quality education

marjorie_rayburn.gif
Dwane Hinson, left, district conservationist, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, speaks with Dr. Greg Jennings, water quality coordinator for N.C. State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Water Education Network director, and Marjorie Rayburn, N.C. Cooperative Extension water quality specialist, at a Water Education Network site visit and demonstration in Edenton, N.C.(Art Latham photo)

EDENTON -- In 2005, Marjorie Rayburn heard a presentation about an Oregon "Watershed Stewards" program at an annual agricultural agents' conference in New York. The presentation sparked an idea.

"I always look for ways to improve homeowner awareness of water quality issues and how things they do in their yards can impact water quality," says Rayburn, North Carolina Cooperative Extension area-specialized agent for water quality in Gates, Chowan and Perquimans counties.

"Also, many of our residents in northeastern North Carolina are 'newcomers' who relocate here to enjoy the water resources such as fishing and boating, but have little knowledge about those resources," she says.

Back home, Rayburn met with her water quality advisory council: farmers, environmental community representatives, a forester, a wetland plant nursery owner and a Perquimans County Soil and Water Conservation District board member.

"They encouraged me to start a 'Water Quality Stewards' group," says Rayburn, who also covers commercial horticulture for Extension. The council also helped develop a mission statement and suggested topics and speakers.

That mission: to educate landowners, local government officials and others such as teachers, children, parents, boaters, and such about water quality issues and practical actions they can take to protect and improve water quality in their own backyard and community.

"From there," says Rayburn, "I went to work."

She set up a tentative schedule, contacted speakers, found a meeting location - usually the Albemarle Learning Center in Edenton - and coordinated numerous field trips. Recruiting through newsletters, word of mouth, Extension Master Gardener contact lists, newspapers and flyers, she attracted 10 dedicated participants who met weekly from March through June 2006.

To help initiate a class project, Rayburn arranged a "Let's Build a Rain Garden" session led by Charles Humphrey, Cooperative Extension area specialized agent in environmental education and Kelly Collins, a North Carolina State University Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) grad student.

After locating a potential site on Perquimans County property where water from a county building's roof was eroding the lawn and eventually running into a nearby creek, the group got to work.

Says Rayburn, "With cooperation from a lot of partners - the Town of Hertford, Perquimans County, Coastal Plain Conservation Nursery, Planters Ridge Garden Center, N.C. State's BAE Department, N.C. Cooperative Extension -- and our volunteers, the rain garden now provides an attractive alternative to manage roof runoff."

The project reduces erosion on the building's front lawn by holding water in a garden of wetland plants until it can soak in, rather than having water run off unfiltered into a nearby creek. The Perquimans county manager was so impressed, he has already suggested a county recreation site for the location of another rain garden.

In addition to the project and lectures and demonstrations by specialists, the group took field trips to water-quality-related sites all over Eastern North Carolina

Workshop and field trip topics included soils, geology, hydrology, drainage, fisheries, flora and fauna, stream classification, low-impact development, septic systems, estuary processes, water- quality monitoring and, of course, rain gardens. Speakers represented Cooperative Extension, the state Division of Water Quality and the state Wildlife Resources Commission, Merchant's Millpond State Park, a private wetland nursery, retired water quality experts and local government.

In addition to its educational aspects, the class resulted in other benefits to the community.

"The first Water Quality Stewards class donated more than 200 volunteer hours, not only in projects such as the rain garden, but in educating others about and monitoring water quality," Rayburn says. "I estimate those hours to be worth more than $3,800."

Rayburn was involved in water-quality work in northeastern North Carolina before "water quality agent" became part of her job title.

"Many farming practices promoted by Cooperative Extension are positives for water quality - conservation tillage, fertilizer amount, timing and placement to reduce runoff into streams and other water bodies, integrated pest management and more," notes Rayburn.

As an area Integrated Pest Management agent for a decade prior to being named a water-quality agent, she realized early on that "farmers did a pretty good job of managing their land to protect water quality for economic reasons, not just environmental reasons: they can't afford to spend money applying fertilizer that runs into the river!"

Rayburn also provided information for basin-wide management plans for the Chowan and Pasquotank river basins and chaired the former Chowan River Basin Council. She now serves on the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program's policy board and citizens' advisory committee.

With another Water Quality Stewards class set for January, Rayburn is incorporating feedback from her first class. Popular field trips to N.C. Estuarium in "Little Washington," the Coastal Plain Conservation Nursery near Edenton, and Merchants Millpond State Park near Gatesville were highly rated and will be a part of our next program.

And thanks to one Extension agent's open mind and willingness to experiment, in northeastern North Carolina, good water-quality-education-related ideas just keep on coming.

For information on the next Water Quality Stewards class, set for January 2008, call Rayburn at 252.357.1400 at the Gates County Cooperative Extension Center (cell: 252.333.7774), or email her at marjorie_rayburn@ncsu.edu.

Written by:
Art Latham, 919.513.3117 or art_latham@ncsu.edu

Posted by Dave at 03:33 PM

November 19, 2007

Extension, state aquariums team up for water quality demos

Roanoke Island Aquarium
To water this cypress forest display, Roanoke Island's North Carolina Aquarium uses an indoor irrigation system fed with storm water harvested and stored in rainwater-collection cisterns. Art Latham photo

Everything old, as the song goes, is new again. Well, maybe not everything, but this is: To help conserve every precious drop of our available water supplies, a team that includes North Carolina Cooperative Extension storm-water specialists and personnel from our state's three aquariums has launched a low-impact development (LID) education and demonstration campaign.

-A. Latham

To read more from Perspectives magazine

Posted by Art at 11:07 AM

October 23, 2007

Cope to lead conservation society

Dr. Gregory Cope, associate professor and department Extension leader in the Environmental and Molecular Toxicology Department at North Carolina State University, has been elected president-elect of the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society (FMCS) for 2007-2008. He joined the FMCS Executive Committee in 2007 as president-elect and will assume leadership of the society in 2009 for a two-year term.

With about 375 members from throughout North America and the world, the FMCS is dedicated to the conservation of freshwater mollusks, North America's most imperiled animals, through research, education, and outreach. Membership in the society is open to anyone interested in freshwater mollusks and who supports the mission of the society, including advocating for conservation of freshwater molluscan resources, serving as a conduit for information about freshwater mollusks, promoting science-based management of freshwater mollusks, and promoting and facilitating education and awareness about freshwater mollusks and their function in freshwater ecosystems.

Cope joined NC State as an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Toxicology, in 1997. Prior to his appointment at NC State, Cope was a research fisheries biologist and aquatic toxicologist with the United States Geological Survey’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse, Wis., for six years.

Cope earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, master’s degree in biology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and doctorate in toxicology and fisheries biology from Iowa State University.

Posted by Natalie at 02:48 PM

September 23, 2007

Bugfest draws crowds in Raleigh

Children at Bugfest
(Photo by Becky Kirkland)

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was well represented at Bugfest, an educational events sponsored by the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. A number of college-connected faculty, staff and students presented exhibits in the "beneficial bugs" area of the event, held Sept. 15. In this photo, children enjoy examining a live specimen. Bugfest participants from the college included: Chrystal Bartlett, Cooperative Extension marketing director; David Orr, Mike Linker, Fred Hain and Jennifer Keller, Entomology; David Penrose, Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

Posted by Natalie at 08:04 AM

September 21, 2007

Woodward to appear on Sunday

Tune in Sunday, Sept. 23, to see Cooperative Extension's Mitch Woodward (Wake County) discuss water conservation inside and outside of the home on "Tarheel Talk" this Sunday. Tarheel Talk airs at 6:30pm on Fox 50, on the WRAL Newschannel on Sunday from 4:30 - 5pm and on Tuesday, Sept. 25, from 10:35 thru 11:00 pm.

*For Time Warner digital cable subscribers, the NewsChannel is available on channel 256. Over-the-air viewers can receive it on digital channel 5.2

Posted by Natalie at 03:15 PM

May 21, 2007

Alum contributes expertise to improve campus, state water quality

westmoreland
Darrell Westmoreland, right, and Dr. Greg Jennings, BAE, along the banks of Rocky Branch on NC State's campus.

Last December, on a tree-lined terrace above Rocky Branch Creek on N.C. State University’s campus, two men monitored the progress of several groups of trainees and their instructors below. Darrell Westmoreland, stream restoration and wetlands mitigation expert, was on the job.

He and Dr. Greg Jennings, Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) professor at N.C. State, watched a multi-ton North State Environmental Inc. (NSE) trackhoe carefully repair part of the Rocky Branch stream restoration project damaged by last June’s Tropical Storm Alberto.

Westmoreland, a 1991 BAE graduate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, co-owns NSE. Jennings, a licensed engineer and water quality specialist who leads “River Course” classes for BAE’s Stream Restoration Program, also heads North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Watershed Education Network.

The heavy equipment operator they observed exhibited a delicate touch on this environmentally sensitive job, no problem for carefully hired and specially trained NSE operators. Westmoreland’s employees are noted for their ability to handle 30-ton tracked excavators or bulldozers in mid-channel, positioning rocks, logs and dirt to create natural-looking streams and banks without disrupting a site.

Water quality engineers appreciate NSE operators’ finesse.

“Darrell’s operators are all skilled, patient experts, who are not afraid to get out of their equipment and use their hands and feet to make sure things are built properly. They have a set of chest waders in every cab,” says Dan Clinton, a 1997 BAE alumnus, former Rocky Branch design team member and River Course instructor, and now a Town of Cary storm water engineer.

North Carolina’s streams are familiar habitats to Westmoreland.
With his wife, Stephanie, he founded the Winston-Salem-based NSE in 1994 to repair and restore waterways to their natural state through specialized channel design and installation services. Stephanie is NSE president; Darrell, project manager and vice-president. He handles field operations, stream restoration and wetlands mitigation, job estimating, equipment scheduling, and maintenance and field personnel management.

Despite the responsibilities and busy schedule, the company provides a dream job to Westmoreland, an outdoorsman who likes to fish any stream he has restored to make sure it supports aquatic life.
Westmoreland is noted not only for his efforts to preserve our environment, but also for his dedication to N.C. State.

The Westmorelands have provided at least $20,000 worth of in-kind donations to the Stream Restoration Program and other College water-quality efforts, Jennings says. They’ve been involved with five training workshop-related projects in Raleigh, Brevard and Purlear, near North Wilkesboro.

Workshop receipts supported the Rocky Branch restoration work during SRP’s three-day certification training as part of a hands-on training program. Instructors included Westmoreland, Jennings, Clinton and N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Ecosystem Enhancement Program staff.

During training, 55 construction contractors, consulting engineers, regulatory agency employees and others visited a multi-faceted real-time water flow demonstration area that NSE had constructed earlier at N.C. State’s Lake Wheeler Road Field Labs. NSE also constructed storm-water research ponds on Centennial Campus for N.C. State’s water quality group, headed by Extension specialist Dr. Jean Spooner, also of BAE, who directs the College’s Soil and Water Environmental Technology Center.

“The Lake Wheeler area is unique,” Clinton says. “No other place in the country has a full-scale outdoor stream construction demonstration project for educational purposes, and Darrell helped build it.”

At Rocky Branch, class participants learned specific techniques and erosion control methods applicable to this type of construction. For instance, students spent 45-minute field rotations observing Westmoreland’s red-T-shirted workers use heavy equipment to install root wads and boulders in an Alberto-damaged stream bank. A group of his workers also installed a brush mattress, while others seeded and planted the stream bank with native riparian vegetation for bank stabilization.

Now in its 12th year, NSE was honored by Equipment World Magazine as 2006 NSE national Contractor of the Year. The same year, the nonprofit Soil and Water Conservation Society honored the company for outstanding efforts and achievements toward the society’s goals of “fostering the science and art of natural resource conservation.”

As evidenced during the December N.C. State restoration job, Westmoreland’s on-the-job streamside attention to detail pays dividends. “The Rocky Branch work was well done,” he says. “The rock and log structures and the channel held up, despite a major precipitation event after we finished the job.”

—A. Latham

Posted by Art at 09:35 AM

April 02, 2007

Workshops focus on development, water quality

Two regional low-impact development (LID) workshops aimed at educating coastal decision-makers, developers, elected officials, planners and the public on how to lessen urban development’s impact on North Carolina's fragile coast and its clean water supply are set for April and May.

The first is on April 11 at Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium; the second, on May 3, is at the Roanoke Island Aquarium in Manteo.

The sites are no coincidence, as one workshop goal is for North Carolina aquariums to help educate the public about low-impact development, says Dr. Bill Hunt, a workshop organizer.

Hunt is an assistant professor in North Carolina State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department and a North Carolina Cooperative Extension urban stormwater management specialist

"LID (low-impact development) is a land development approach that uses various planning and design practices and technologies to protect natural resources and minimize the cost associated with infrastructure," says Hunt. "LID does not inhibit growth but encourages a comprehensive, environmentally friendly planning and implementation process."

Hunt adds, "LID tries to mimic a site's predevelopment hydrology by using design techniques to infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate and detain stormwater runoff close to its source. LID can be applied to new development, urban retrofits, redevelopment and revitalization projects."

The workshops will provide an overview of low-impact development design as well as implementation elements, practices and case studies and field tours to sites where low-impact development is being practiced.

Workshop instructors urge engineers, landscape architects, stormwater managers, land surveyors, regulators, students, homeowner association members, municipal officials and anyone else who designs, reviews or constructs low-impact developments to attend. Registration and other information is available online at http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/workshops/LID/. Information is also available from Andrea Olevano in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University at 919.515.6780 or andrea_olevano@ncsu.edu.

The workshops are funded through a grant from N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Water Quality Section.

- Art Latham, 919.513.3117 or art_latham@ncsu.edu -

Posted by Dave at 11:48 AM

December 18, 2006

Wilmington school installs rain garden

Wilmington raingarden
Jason Wright, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension coastal stormwater management associate, helps students from Wilmington's Gregory Elementary School start planting the new rain garden in front of the school. (Art Latham photo)

On a pleasant autumn day in a south-central Wilmington neighborhood known as The Bottom, third- and fifth-graders spilling out of Gregory Elementary School of Science and Math seemed glad to get a chance to stretch outdoors.

But the students weren’t headed for the playground.

Joined by their teachers and the principal, they filed out to an area between the school’s front parking lot and Anne Street, where a small chore awaited: helping construct a rain garden to keep polluted parking lot water from reaching Burnt Mill Creek, then the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Read more

Posted by Art at 03:54 PM

November 13, 2006

Later, Alligator

Extension team members tackle alligatorweed from a canoe
Extension team members tackle alligatorweed in Eastern North Carolina waterways. (Photos courtesy Diana Rashash)

It clogs waterways and backs up irrigation ponds. Wildlife get tangled in it, and it does a number on boat propellers. Worst of all, it grows out of control – like, well, a weed. It is a menace, and true to its name, alligatorweed takes a real bite out of eastern North Carolina’s waterways.

“We’ve declared war!” says Diana Rashash, Cooperative Extension area specialized agent in Onslow County.

Rashash has teamed with Wayne Batten, Extension director in Pender County, who launched the first attack on alligatorweed last year. Also on board are the North Carolina Division of Water Resources, the city of Jacksonville, Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base and New River Air Station.

A perennial, mat-forming aquatic plant, alligatorweed causes debris build-up, which further impedes water flow and invites mosquitoes. According to Batten, large stretches of streams in Pender County have become impassable to paddleboats and fishermen, and water quality issues such as oxygen content are serious concerns.

“Alligatorweed is like Mickey Mouse’s broom in ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’” Rashash describes. Like the multiplying broom that wreaked havoc in the Disney classic, alligatorweed reproduces from fragmentation, so any attempt to cut it back is futile, Rashash explains. It just keeps growing.

Chemical control isn’t a good option either, because most of it harms other plants, Batten says. In early 2005, Batten worked with Mike Linker, CALS professor of crop science and Extension specialist, to write a proposal for an Integrated Pest Management grant for biological control of alligatorweed. His method of choice: the alligatorweed flea beetle.

alligatorweed flea beetle
Alligatorweed flea beetle.

Native to Africa, the beetle is alligatorweed’s natural predator. It also has proven to work well in Florida, and Batten’s hope is for similar results in North Carolina.

Batten won the $6,861 grant from N.C. State, and in May 2005, released about 6,000 beetles in select Pender County waters. The beetles were donated by the Army Corps of Engineers in Florida, who were conducting similar experiments there and planned to use North Carolina data to supplement their work. It’s a nice partnership, Batten says, “a win-win.”

Batten’s team used GPS to monitor the locations of the beetles and track their “attack” on the weed. The results were mixed. In a few sites, nothing happened, and Batten figures the beetles fell victim to hungry birds, or were killed by chemicals sprayed to control mosquitoes.

But, in many other cases, the beetles conquered the weed.

“One of our local nurseries had a big problem with alligatorweed, and 40 to 50 percent of their irrigation pond was covered with it,” Batten says. “Now, after the beetle release last year, there’s not a single sprig.”

These results inspired Batten to apply for a second year of grant funding, and to take a regional approach to combat the weed.

This year, the Cooperative Extension offices of Onlsow and Pender counties received a $9,730 Integrated Pest Management grant from N.C. State. And, Florida kicked in another supply of free beetles.

“This is the first time we’ve coordinated our efforts to take on alligatorweed – county, city, state, military bases and volunteers,” Rashash says. “We’re all dealing with the same problem, and it’s been a great partnership.”

Rashash’s group alone covered a 20-square-mile area in Onslow County at the same time that the others were releasing beetles throughout Pender County and Camp Lejeune. In all, they released 11,000 beetles over 50 acres in May.

So far, the results are promising. In many spots, the beetles have made the weeds “look like swiss cheese,” Rashash says. In others, the teams are supplementing the beetles’ work with environmentally-friendly herbicides.

“We’re looking now at the possibility of expanding into other counties,” Batten says. “They’re having similar problems with alligatorweed in northeastern North Carolina, and we’d like to continue this collaborative approach for grant funding. Our ultimate goal is to get rid of alligatorweed in all these places.”

Rashash agrees, adding, “The weed is an issue from Brunswick County right on up the coast. Coordinating the efforts of Extension and our various partners will give everyone a bigger bang for their buck.”

- S. Stanard

Posted by Suzanne at 03:04 PM

November 01, 2006

Publications update from Communication Services

Four new publications have been delivered and are available from Communication Services. Click on a publication title or go through http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/xrdb to reach Cooperative Extension’s online catalog and order copies.

If you’d rather, you can still fax orders to Jeanne Marie Wallace at 919.515.6938. Please note that these publications are free to county centers. The price shown in the online catalog is for public orders.

Grafting for Disease Resistance in Heirloom Tomatoes (AG-675)
This eight-page publication by Frank Louws and Cary Rivard describes grafting techniques that growers can use to unite the disease resistance and enhanced vigor of hybrid tomato cultivars with the high fruit quality of heirloom varieties. It describes the benefits of grafting and provides a step-by-step guide to grafting tomato transplants, healing and acclimating them to growing conditions and planting them in the field.

Godfrey Nalyanya has added three Spanish brochures to the titles in his Campana MIP en las Escuelas (School IPM Campaign):
· Combata las Plagas en las Escuelas (Get Tough on Pests in Schools) (AG-631-02S) tells how to use IPM in schools to prevent and solve pest problems by using safe, effective strategies.
· Como deshacerse de las Plagas en las instalaciones escolares (Get Tough on Pests in School Facilities) (AG-631-03S) tells how to use IPM to prevent and solve pest problems in school facilities from cafeterias to boiler rooms by using safe, effective strategies.
· Elimine las plagas en las areas de servicios alimenticios (Get Tough on Pests in Food Service Areas) (AG-631-05S) tells how to use IPM in school food service areas to prevent and solve pest problems by using safe, effective strategies.

Posted by Natalie at 08:45 AM

October 16, 2006

School IPM workshops offered

North Carolina State University’s School Integrated Pest Management Program announces its winter training workshops to be held in across the state in November. The recent passage of the state’s School Children’s Health Act, requiring school districts to implement IPM, creates an urgent need for training. Owners, managers and technicians of pest control companies that serve or intend to serve schools are encouraged to attend.

At the half-day workshops, participants will:
· Learn about the School Children’s Health Act passed by the General Assembly in June.
· Learn to successfully implement school IPM programs in schools.
· Receive three CCUs in the P-Phase.
· Receive a training certificate.

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a proactive and common-sense approach to pest control that reduces the risk of exposure to pesticides for students, teachers and staff in public schools.

Training sessions conducted at county centers of North Carolina Cooperative Extension and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The following are dates and locations for each session:
· Nov. 3, Winston-Salem
· Nov. 7, Raleigh
· Nov. 8, Wilmington
· Nov. 13, Clinton
· Nov. 15, Asheville
· Nov. 22, Greenville

The workshops are sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, N.C. State University. Each workshop is free of charge, but participants are urged to register in advance. Registration materials can be downloaded from http://schoolipm.ncsu.edu. For more information contact Dr. Godfrey Nalyanya, godfrey_nalyanya@ncsu.edu, by phone at 919.515.5650 or by fax, 919.515.5315.

Posted by Natalie at 09:20 AM

October 10, 2006

Demon drain

Demon drainage project
Devilish fix: We slightly enhanced this aerial photo of the ‘Demon BMP’ by adding a touch of green. (Original photo by Seth Nagy)


Alamance high school uses mascot image in drainage project

Halloween’s edging closer, and an Alamance County school is ready. That is, if the spooky holiday ushers in a rainy season this year.

That’s because at Graham High School, the Trollinger Road home of the “red devils,” North Carolina State University researchers are proving that science can help boost school spirit, while helping keep our drinking water clean.

Here’s how science and spookiness mix.

Graham High officials last year asked Dr. Bill Hunt, of NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, for an innovative best management practice to catch and clean up petroleum residue, lawn chemicals and soil draining from school property. Hunt turned to designer Ryan Smith.

Smith, a BAE Extension research associate, designed and helped install a bioretention area on the downhill side of one of the school’s parking lots: a water catchment and filtration best management practice.

And keeping GHS’s fiendish mascot in mind, he designed the research and demonstration BMP in the shape of a cartoon-like devil’s head.

The BMP hadn’t filled in sufficiently with vegetation since its spring construction for a definitive photo in late August when N.C. Cooperative Extension personnel overflew the site with a model plane fitted with a small camera. But with a little image enhancement on our part (see slightly retouched photo), you can see Smith’s design concept emerge from the rolling grassy area into which it’s dug.
The BMP works like this: polluted water from the parking lot flows into a central area, the forebay – a pre-filtration holding area – then splits equally into two “eyes” – other holding areas. Water flows around the eyes’ “irises.”

“If it rains a ton, the eyes will cry, the thing fills up and tears come out the tear ducts,” Hunt says. But most importantly, the filtered water then flows to a storm drain, which drains to Haw River, then to Jordan Lake.

The groundbreaking project is the first grassed bioretention area under study in this hemisphere.

“Sometimes landscape aesthetics dictate a grassed area,” Hunt says. Because no study had been done on grassed cells, this and other states had been very reluctant to permit the use of grassed areas, and if they did, didn’t give them the same pollutant removal credit as their tree, shrub or grass mulch counterparts.”

The Graham site also is testing an innovative BMP soil medium. “This is the first time we’ve used a expanded slate in a bioretention area,” he says. “Previously, it had been used just for plants in boxes or garden beds. The slate collects more pollutants than traditional media.

“Early indications show the bioretention areas are both doing a very good job of removing nitrogen (the numbers are out-of-this-world good) and a good job of removing phosphorus,” says Hunt. Both nutrients, used in agriculture and lawn care, can pollute drinking water.

There’s a practical reason for the demonstration and research BMP’s location in Jordan Lake’s upper watershed.

“Water quality regulations are coming soon to Jordan Lake just as they did earlier to the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins,” says Mitch Woodward, a Wake County Cooperative Extension area specialized agriculture agent who spent many hours helping install the BMP.

And, he says, “Nitrogen and phosphorus will both be of interest in the Jordan Lake watershed and this study looks at both of them.”

Research projects such as the “demon” BMP are critical, says Woodward, who like Hunt, is a member of NC Cooperative Extension’s Water Education Network and was active in recent Neuse River basin cleanup research and projects.

“If pollution sources are not managed properly in the Jordan Lake watershed in coming decades,” he says, “the lake won’t support its designated uses as a major regional drinking agent water supply, recreational resource and aquatic habitat.”

That could mean polluted tap water, no jet skis and no fish.

And wouldn’t that be another devil of a fix?

A Piedmont Triad Council of Governments $10,000 grant funded the project’s design work; a 319 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources helped with construction, as did Rett Davis, Alamance County Cooperative Extension director, and cooperators with the Alamance County Schools and the City of Graham.

-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 11:13 AM

May 30, 2006

Correct plant use enhances environment

Cliff Ruth

The correct use of plants increases property values and provides natural filtration systems for water and air, says Cliff Ruth, North Carolina Cooperative Extension area specialized agent in commercial horticulture and turfgrass.

As our communities grow, the landscaping and nursery industries, unlike many other agricultural areas, are expanding exponentially and will continue to grow and thrive.

That's the expert opinion of Ruth, who works in the midst of such growth in Henderson County in Western North Carolina. The county's status recently changed from rural to smaller urban, he says.


Read more from Perspectives Magazine

Posted by Art at 01:04 PM

May 10, 2006

Extension helps with water-quality lessons for Western NC

Water Education Network logo

Water quality has deteriorated so much in Western North Carolina that Buncombe County’s erosion control officer received almost 250 complaints between July and October last year, says a January story in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Experts say the two reasons for water quality’s decline, erosion and stormwater runoff, both apparently due to increased development, are getting worse. Three major mountain watersheds – the French Broad, Watauga and New – are in the grips of major development.

But communities can learn how to improve water quality. North Carolina Cooperative Extension, partnering with North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, have produced and presented water-quality related education programs for years.

Read more from The Water Shed

Posted by Natalie at 09:29 AM

April 17, 2006

EDEN provides West Nile Virus site

With all the news related to avian influenza, the Extension Disaster Educaton Network urges Extension professionals to remember the efforts being made to combat West Nile Virus (WNV). As a human health concern, it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to transfer the disease.

Thanks to Kim Cassel – EDEN's point of contact for South Dakota State University – EDEN now has a complete Issue page on WNV: www.eden.lsu.edu/wnv. This is an informative page that provides an overview of the virus and answers the following questions:

* How many kinds of mosquitoes are in the United States?
* Why do mosquitoes bite?
* What disease-causing microorganisms can mosquitoes transmit?
* What is the most effective way to prevent mosquito bites and control mosquitoes at home?

A number of helpful and informative resources are accessible through this page, including a report titled "Public Health Confronts the Mosquito: Developing Sustainable State and Local Mosquito Control Programs."

As the summer season approaches and mosquitoes once again become the seasonal obstacle, this page may prove a valuable resource for Extension professionals.

Posted by Natalie at 08:02 AM

January 13, 2006

Universities host environmental workshop

Research Triangle universities will host a workshop on environmental conflict resolution Feb. 10 at McKimmon Center. The workshop, "Collaborating on Environmental Decisions: For Better? For Worse? For Whom?" will focus on collaborative decision making in environmental policy and natural resource management. The workshop is sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Natural Resources Leadership Institute at N.C. State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read more

Posted by Natalie at 09:39 AM

November 01, 2005

Water quality pros examine Rocky Branch

While North Carolina State University’s Stream Restoration Institute trains hundreds of hydrologists, engineers and other water-quality professionals each year, a recent session of about 35 people was unique.

Continue reading "Water quality pros..."

Posted by Natalie at 07:58 AM

October 25, 2005

North Carolina schools recognized for safer pest management

Photo
Godfrey Nalyanya, left, and Mike Linker of N.C. State's School IPM Program, discuss award winners at Monday's event. (Daniel Kim photo)

School systems that have implemented Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs were recognized for their efforts by North Carolina State University’s School IPM Program Oct. 24 at N.C. State’s McKimmon Center. The School IPM Program honored the leaders from 21 North Carolina school districts during the program’s first-ever awards ceremony.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a common-sense approach to pest control that dramatically reduces the risk of exposure to pesticides for students, teachers and staff in public schools. There is a growing national movement to safeguard children’s health using IPM.

“Every opportunity we get, we should reduce kids’ exposures to toxic chemicals,” stated James Reuter, an award winner from Nash-Rocky Mount Schools and past president of the N.C. Public Schools Maintenance Association.

Children spend six to eight hours a day in school for 185-200 days each year. Because children are more vulnerable than adults to pests and the pesticides that many schools districts rely on for pest control, it is important for schools to adopt safer pest management methods that do not rely on toxic pesticides.

Here in North Carolina, local school districts have taken the lead in implementing creative, cost-effective programs that ensure clean, safe learning environments for children. The Integrated Pest Management Program at N.C. State University works with these districts to provide trainings and technical resources on pest management. The program also has the support of state agencies, professional associations, local schools and community groups in implementing IPM programs across the state.

On the surface of it, IPM just seems like a common sense idea, said Rep. Grier Martin, addressing the award winners. “You have taken a great idea and turned it into real results on the ground – and that is not easy,” he said. Martin, along with Representatives McLawhorn (Pitt County) and Lucas (Cumberland County) has sponsored legislation that would phase in IPM for all public school districts in North Carolina.

Dr. Jack Cherry, president of the N.C. School Boards Association, and a school board member from Beaufort County, another award winner, had a challenge for the group. “Let’s make sure that all 115 local school districts can be recognized for this high achievement,” he stated. The School Boards Association plays an important role in policy development and promotion for local boards.

Awards were presented to the following school districts. Each district’s school IPM coordinator is listed.

Leadership awards (for long-standing, model IPM programs):
1. Wake County Public Schools, Buddy McCarty
2. Catawba County Schools, Jane Williams
3. Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Schools, Jack Ward
4. Buncombe County Schools, Clark Wyatt
5. Pitt County Schools, Douglas Price Jr.

Program Awards (for strong new IPM programs):
6. Elkin City Schools (Yadkin Co.), Ron Mack
7. Granville County Schools, Sydney Moody
8. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Chip Irby
9. Nash-Rocky Mount Schools, James Reuter
10. Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools, Steve Cutright
11. Orange County Schools, William Crabtree

Initiative Awards (for school systems that are in the process of implementing an IPM program):
1. Haywood County Schools, Ray Hipps
2. Yancey County Schools, Niles Howell
3. McDowell County Schools, Gavin Trinks
4. Rowan-Salisbury County Schools, Tim Pharar
5. Durham County Schools, Randy Tant
6. Cumberland County Schools, Robert Kelly
7. Robeson County Schools, Earney Hammonds
8. Vance County Schools, Claiborne Woods
9. Beaufort County Schools, Phillip Boyd
10. Yadkin County Schools, Donald Hawks

Posted by Natalie at 04:08 PM

October 14, 2005

Johnston County's ag center incorporates water-quality methods

Photo of Bill Lord and Ken Bateman
Art Latham photo

North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Johnston County staff is proud of the water-quality-enhancing efforts incorporated into the new $5 million Johnston County Agricultural Center, which includes Extension’s county offices.

Continue reading 'Johnston County's ag center incorporates water-quality methods'

Posted by Natalie at 03:40 PM

October 06, 2005

School IPM offers workshops

Workshops to train pest management professionals on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for controlling insect pests in schools will be held across North Carolina in November. These workshops are highly recommended for owners, managers and employees of pest control companies that service schools or intent to bid on schools in North Carolina.

IPM is a strategy for safely and effectively controlling pests by addressing conditions that can lead to and favor pest infestations and using pesticides only when necessary.

At this year’s half-day workshops, participants will:
· Learn to successfully implement school IPM programs
· Learn about the School Children’s Health Act of 2005.
· Receive 3 CCUs (Certification Credit Units) in the P-Phase.
· Receive a training certificate.

You will learn from dynamic speakers from North Carolina State University, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Structural Pest Control Division, pest control industry and more. Training sessions will run from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Below are the dates and locations for each session:
Nov. 4, Greenville
Nov. 8, Winston-Salem
Nov. 10, Wilmington
Nov. 14, Clinton
Nov. 17, Asheville
Nov. 18, Raleigh

The workshops are sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension and N.C. State University, and each workshop is free of charge. Participants are urged to register in advance. To register download registration material from http://schoolipm.ncsu.edu or contact Dr. Godfrey Nalyanya, godfrey_nalyanya@ncsu.edu, by phone at 919.515.5650 or by fax, 919.515.5315.

Posted by Natalie at 03:13 PM

September 06, 2005

24 graduate from NRLI

North Carolinians from across the state are the most recent graduates of the Natural Resources Leadership Institute, a nationally recognized and founding model offered by other states such as Kentucky, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Montana, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Indiana. Developed by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and housed within the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at N.C. State University, the institute is designed to build the leadership capacity of North Carolinians involved in natural resource management and some of our most contentious environmental issues.

Graduates represent a diverse mixture of experiences, backgrounds, affiliations, and statewide geographic locations. During the 18 month leadership development program, participants engage in exploring the leader within as expanding their understanding about the practice and responsiveness of leadership. Progress Energy provides partial scholarships for participants to attend who otherwise would not be able to do so. As part of their learning environment, Institute participants put practice to work as they develop and apply a leadership project mentored by the institute faculty. The 2004 graduates and their projects are listed below.


Alexander County
Tommy Sports, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Forest Resources
Project: Expectations of Plan Development and Procedural Conflicts that Effect Work in Field and Product Distribution to NCDFR Customers

Beaufort County
Kevin O’Kane, Weyerhaeuser
Project: Creation of a Memorandum of Agreement to Protect RCW Habitat and Maintain Flexibility of Use of Weyerhaeuser Property in Tyrell County

Tom Stroud, Partnerships for the Sound
Project: Creation of a Memorandum of Agreement to Protect RCW Habitat and Maintain Flexibility of Use of Weyerhaeuser Property in Tyrell County

Buncombe County
Alma Watson, Puckett Institute
Project: Development of Tool Kit to Support the Natural Resource Experience

Carteret County
Blake Price, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Marine Fisheries
Project: The Formation of the Marine Fisheries Commission Sea Turtle Advisory Committee

Columbus County
Mary Beth Hanson, International Paper
Project: Accessibility to the Green Swamp: Partnerships Providing Workable Solutions

Craven County
Tim Lisk, Wake County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space
Project: Partnership for a Multi-Use Trail System in Wake County

Dare County
Sara Mirabilio, N.C. Sea Grant College Program
Project: Utilization of Cultural Models and Collaborative Learning to Advance Management of the North Carolina Blue Crab Fishery

Fairfield County
Roger Stallard, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Forest Resources
Project: Forestry Education Outreach to Non-Industrial Private Forestland Owners and Establishment of Multi-County Landowner Association to Address Policy Issues Impacting Forestry

Guilford County
Amy Armbruster, UNC-Greensboro, Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling
Project: University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Buy Recycled Campaign

Jackson County
Steve Yurkovich, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources Management
Project: A Collaborative Approach to Address Issues Related to the Cullowhee Dam Water Supply System

Mecklenburg County
Jeff Lineberger, Duke Power
Project: Land Conservation Opportunities and the Catawba-Wateree Hydro Relicensing Project

New Hanover County
Elisa Barrett, Earth Rescue and Sierra Club
Project: Providing a Broad Perspective Bibliography Relating to Global Warming and Climate Change

Orange County
John Howard, N.C. Department of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of Forest Resources
Project: Development of a Cooperative Agreement for the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources and Orange County

Wake County
Stephen Bentley, Wake County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space
Project: Wake County Land Stewardship Business Plan

Alan Clark, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Resources
Project: Addressing Runoff Pollution through Education and Outreach: A Department of Environment and Natural Resources Initiative

Gabrielle Cooper, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Resources
Project: Comprehensive Water Conservation Program for the City of Raleigh

Marti Gibson, City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department
Project: Comprehensive Water Conservation Program for the City of Raleigh

Nancy Guthrie, Clean Water Management Trust Fund
Project: Review of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund Stewardship Procedures

Rusty Harris-Bishop, Ft. Bragg and the Sustainable Sandhills Initiative
Project: Facilitation of the Sustainable Sandhills Project

Todd Kennedy, N.C. Department of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of
Water Quality
Project: North Carolina Department of Transportation Cross Training Program

Elizabeth Lee Lusk, N.C. Department of Transportation – Office of Natural Environment
Project: North Carolina Department of Transportation Cross Training Program

Janine Nicholson, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Office of Environmental Education.
Project: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning: Implementating the EIC Model in North Carolina

Shardul Raval, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Forest Resources
Project: Collaborative Process for the Development of a Land Acquisition Policy & Procedure for the NCDFR Educational State Forest Expansion Plan

For more information on the Natural Resource Leadership Institute or to learn about the upcoming 2006 Leadership Development Program, contact Mary Lou Addor, 919.515.9602 or Mary_Addor@ncsu.edu, or visit the NRLI Web site, www.ces.ncsu.edu/NRLI.

Posted by Natalie at 01:43 PM

July 25, 2005

Three waste technologies may be alternatives for swine industry

Dr. Mike Williams

Three additional alternative methods of treating the waste from swine farms have made what might be called the first cut toward being declared “environmentally superior” to the method now used by most North Carolina hog farms to treat waste.

Dr. Mike Williams, director of the Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center at North Carolina State University, added three technologies to the two that were determined last year to have met what Williams called “environmental performance criteria” necessary to be considered environmentally superior. Williams made his selections in an annual report delivered to the North Carolina Attorney General’s office Monday, July 25.

Williams directs an effort to identify swine waste management technologies that are considered environmentally superior to the lagoon and spray field system now used on almost all North Carolina hog farms.

None of the five technologies singled out thus far has been declared environmentally superior. In order for that to happen, they must be judged economically and operationally feasible. Williams said that won’t happen until later this year, when he releases a final report on the five-year, $17.3 million effort.

The effort is funded by pork producers Smithfield Foods and Premium Standard Farms under agreements the two companies reached with the North Carolina Attorney General in 2000. Since then, experts from NC State University and elsewhere have been evaluating alternative swine waste management technologies.

While the Smithfield agreement spells out environmental criteria the technologies must meet, it also stipulates the technologies must be economically feasible. Williams said the economic feasibility analysis is not complete, and until the economic work is finished, his determinations should be considered conditional.

The three technologies that Williams determined meet environmental standards all treat only the solid portion of the waste stream from a hog farm. So if any of the three is to find its way to North Carolina farms, it would have to be combined with a technology that treats the liquid part of the waste stream.

Two of the technologies that meet environmental standards treat solid waste by burning it, while the third is a composting system.

One of the two technologies that burn waste does so in a chamber called a gasifier. Gasification involves burning a substance in a low-oxygen environment, which converts complex organic compounds in the substance to gases. It is possible to collect gases such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen and make ethanol.

The second burning technology goes by the acronym BEST, for Biomass Energy Sustainable Technology, and includes two methods of separating the solid and liquid portions of the waste stream. Solids are then burned in a fluidized bed combustion system. In this system, the temperature is above 1,300 degrees.

Both combustion systems produce ash, which contains nutrients and has value as a fertilizer.

The composting system was developed by Super Soil Systems USA. Waste is mixed with bulking materials such as cotton gin residue and wood chips, while a machine called a Compost-A-Matic is then used to mix the material daily.

Another Super Soil Systems technology that separates solids from the waste stream, then treats the remaining liquid waste in a series of large metal tanks was given conditional approval last year. Thus far, this technology is the only one that treats the liquid waste stream to receive conditional approval.

In order to meet environmental standards, technologies must:
* eliminate the movement of animal waste to surface waters and groundwater through direct discharge, seepage or runoff;
* substantially eliminated atmospheric emissions of ammonia;
* substantially eliminate the emission of odor that is detectable beyond the boundaries of the farm;
* substantially eliminate the release of disease-transmitting vectors and airborne pathogens; and
* substantially eliminate nutrient and heavy metal contamination of soil and groundwater.
As did last year’s report, this year’s includes assessments of eight technologies. Williams said that while five of the 16 technologies now meet the environmental performance criteria, several others could with relatively minor changes. He added that it may also be possible to combine elements, or processes, from different technologies to produce systems that will meet the environmentally superior standard.

Smithfield Foods is providing $15 million to evaluate technologies, while the attorney general allocated $2.3 million from the Premium Standard Farms agreement, for a total of $17.3 million.

In 2002 the attorney general entered a third agreement with Frontline Farmers, an organization made up swine farmers. While Frontline Farmers is not providing funding, the organization’s membership agreed to work with the attorney general and NC State University to develop and implement environmentally superior technologies.

The technologies that have been evaluated were selected by Williams working with panels made up of representatives from government, the swine industry and environmental groups as well as economists and waste management experts. In many cases, technologies have been evaluated on hog farms at full scale.

- Dave Caldwell

Note: The report delivered to the Attorney General’s office is more that 1,000 pages. It will be available later this week on line at http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/waste_mgt/smithfield_projects/phase2report05/phase2report.htm.

Posted by deeshore at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Aquatic insects bugged by pollution

Have you seen a stonefly or mayfly lately? If you have, then chances are the water you found it in is relatively clean. Scientists at North Carolina State University are using the smallest residents of our rivers and streams to help assess a big concern: aquatic pollution levels.

Read more in this NC State University news release featuring Dave Penrose, an extension research associate in the College of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

Posted by deeshore at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)