Agriculture students visit URBC

Posted: March 6, 2013

The Ukulima Root Biology Center was pleased to host students from the University of Limpopo on March 6, 2013.
Mabore explains a cowpea phenotyping trial

Mabore explains a cowpea phenotyping trial

More than 50 bright undergraduate agriculture students enrolled in Prof. Mariga's Crop Production class at the University of Limpopo visited the research team at the Ukulima Root Biology Center. The focus of the field day was The Roots of Agricultural Development. The URBC team took a workshop station approach in which students were separated into groups and rotated through 20 minute sessions at different sites, described below. The URBC interns (Tsitso, Stanford, Mabore, and Tino) lead three of the four stations and helped organize and plan the whole event. Two researchers from the Educational Concern for Hunger Organization (ECHO) lead the fourth station to demonstrate system level approaches with intercropping and soil management.

Larry waving his arms about the lab's work

Johan Prinsloo welcomed the group and gave an introduction to the collaboration between the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Penn State. Larry York (above) described the basics of the Roots Lab's root traits based approach to agricultural development, such as the phenotyping of large panels for genetic mapping, and the use of controlled physiological studies for assessing the functional utilities of specific root traits.

Tsitso explaining maize RSA

At the lab station, Tsitso (above) described root crown phenotyping (shovelomics), the processing of soil cores for root distribution, and laboratory equipment and methods for nutrient analysis of plants and soils.

Stan explaining P field

At the phosphorus field station, Stan (above) demonstrated the use of drip irrigation for controlled well-watered and water-stressed treatments, high and low phosphorus effects on plant growth, the growth habits of cowpea and common bean, time domain reflectometry (TDR) for monitoring water, and a sorghum experiment.

Tino explaining the SPAD meter

At the pivot field station, Mabore demonstrated effects of foliar and soil applications of zinc on cowpea growth and large cowpea and chickpea root trait screenings. Tino (above) showed the growth of maize in low and high nitrogen and how to assess plant vigor.

Chris explaining ECHO's work

At the ECHO station, Chris D'Aiuto (above) and Brandon Lingbeek showed their research involving optimizing cropping systems by studying different legumes intercropped with sorghum, and the ability of various legumes to improve soil and produce biomass.

Last, the students were given an opportunity to see farm machinery in action by Johan Prinsloo and Nate. 

U of Limpopo students group photo

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the students for their professional behavior, attention, and inquisitiveness.


--Written and Posted by Larry York