Dr. Cedric Ogden, professor of agriculture engineering technology and Extension engineer at Fort Valley State University, secured a McIntire Stennis Grant to use drones in locating diseased pine trees that could be converted to wooden fuel pellets.
Dr. Cedric Ogden, professor of agriculture engineering technology at Fort Valley State University, recently secured a grant aimed to assist Georgia’s $35.2 billion forestry industry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded FVSU a $565,565 McIntire Stennis Grant. The funds will be awarded annually beginning July 2018 and ending July 2023. Funds can be used to cover costs associated with research, graduate assistants, travel to conferences and publications.
“The purpose of the grant is to study the feasibility of processing and harvesting Loblolly pine trees infected with diseases caused by pine beetles,” Ogden said. “Remote sensing in aerial vehicles equipped with infrared and thermal sensors, will be used to scan and identify infected areas by locking in on vegetation reduction and heat spikes caused by the disease.”
Ogden, who also serves as an Extension engineer for the university, said harvesting infected pine trees and converting them to pellets could be an alternative fuel source. These can be used for facility furnaces generating heat and utility power plants generating electricity. The pellets may also help landowners and the timber industry reduce losses caused by trees that would normally be discarded.
The FVSU professor said that in addition to providing an avenue to generate revenue for landowners and the timber industry, the research could lead to solutions preventing the disease from spreading through Georgia pine trees.
Ogden said majority of his research is designed to provide the community and landowners with efficient options for their resources. “There are several communities with landowners that have plenty of land, but are unsure of the most efficient way to utilize that property,” Ogden said.
As an 1890 Land-Grant University, FVSU has a mission to provide research based education and outreach services to its constituents through the Cooperative Extension program.
For more information about the grant, contact Ogden at (478) 825-6590 or email@example.com.