The Agroforestry and WildlifeField Day Sept. 28 in Griffin, Ga., has something for everyone,whether you’re a forest landowner or a wildlife enthusiast.The event was previously calledthe Land Use and Forest Management Field Day. But the name andprogram have been changed to reflect the trend of landowners usingtheir land to make the most of the environment. This includesgrowing trees and crops together and allowing wildlife to flourishon the same property.ForHunters and Wildlife EnthusiastsFor hunters, the field day willoffer information on managing deer, wild turkey and bobwhite quail.Wildlife enthusiasts can learn about the benefits of attractingwildlife, creating a backyard habitat, controlling wildlife damageand managing threatened or endangered species.Forest landowners will benefitfrom the information on prescribed burning, forest health, marketingand selling timber, Georgia’s Forest Stewardship Program, bestmanagement practices for forest roads and annual pine straw removal.Those with wetlands on their propertywill want to attend the sessions on pond construction and renovation,waterfowl management and best management practices for streamsides.Leavell to Speakand EntertainChuck Leavell, 1998 American TreeFarm Program’s Outstanding Tree Farmer and keyboardist for theRolling Stones, will be guest speaker for the field day. Leavellwill also perform for the field day crowd during lunch.A $15 fee covers the presentations,lunch, a program booklet and field day hats to the first 300 registrants.The field day is sponsored by the University of Georgia Collegeof Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Warnell Schoolof Forest Resources, the Georgia Forestry Commission, U.S. Departmentof Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service and theGeorgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division.For more information, call (770)228-7318. Or visit the AWFD Web site at www.griffin.peachnet.edu/awfd.
Buckwheat adds nitrogen to garden plots, produces beautiful flowers and delicious pancakes.Each year I start my garden with grand visions of endless bounty. Something happens around the first part of July, though.By then, I’ve had plenty of squash and cucumbers, and even had a few choice tomatoes; basically, my stomach gets too full to keep up.Now, the spring vegetables are petering out, as well as some of those early squash and cucumbers. The stifling heat and humidity make going out in the garden almost impossible before 7 p.m.This year I have a plan to keep those garden beds from turning into pastureland. No, it’s not mountains of mulch or more hours with the hoe and tiller. It’s buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum).Buckwheat is an unusually fast-growing plant produced by commercial agriculture for its grain-like seeds. In the home garden, it is one of the best summer cover/green manure crops available.George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were some of the first American farmers to grow buckwheat, as they recognized its benefit in a healthy crop rotation. Native to Russia, the flexibility and adaptability led buckwheat to be grown on more than a million acres in the U.S. in the late 1800s.The grain is ground into flour and used in a variety of foods, from noodles in Japan to breakfast staples like cereal and pancakes in the U.S. I even had pillows made from buckwheat hulls when I lived in the tropical Pacific. The pillows are meant to be cooler because of the increased space for air. I never got past the crinkling noise I heard each time I moved.Buckwheat is easy to grow. Simply broadcast the seeds and lightly rake them in. A pound of seed is recommended per 500 square feet of garden space, or 3 ounces of seed per 100 square feet. You can’t really put too much seed down. Since it’s usually sold in bulk from the local feed store, it’s better to err on the side of too much. Buckwheat does not require highly fertile soils but will benefit from modest levels of nitrogen. Its many fine roots are well adapted to find lower levels of phosphorous, and when crop residues are returned to the soil, it becomes more available for other plants.Germination begins in about three to four days, and within 10 to 14 days, the ground should be fully covered with emerging leaves. This quick leaf cover protects the soil from erosion, retains moisture and shades out those dastardly weed seeds.Now just sit back, drink some iced tea and wait for the best part: the floral display that begins three to four weeks after planting. A large, dense planting will literally stop traffic. My neighbors tell me they always slow down to admire the 5-by-100-foot strip I planted along the roadside.The prolific flowers on buckwheat are a good nectar source for honeybees and other pollinators. The resulting honey is dark-colored and distinctly different in taste from clover or wildflower honey. The timing of flowering is also very beneficial to bees because midsummer is usually when there is less native forage available.Remember that those prolific flowers turn into a seed if allowed to develop and dry on the plant. If you do not want buckwheat carrying over into your next planting, cut the plants or till them under two to three weeks after flowering. Some farmers cut it and leave the plant residue on the surface as mulch, which will provide a premulched area for new transplants.
Britain’s first legally-approved HIV self-testing kit went on sale online on Monday, promising a result in just 15 minutes with a 99.7 percent accuracy rate.Developers hope the BioSure HIV Self Test will help identify the estimated 26,000 people in Britain who have HIV but do not yet know.“Knowing your HIV status is critical and the launch of this product will empower people to discreetly test themselves when it is convenient to them and in a place where they feel comfortable,” explained BioSure founder Brigette Bard.Early diagnosis reduces the risk of passing the disease on to other people and also raises the success rate of modern treatments, which now make the disease manageable.“Over 40 percent of people living with HIV are diagnosed late, meaning they have been living with HIV for at least four years,” said Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust (NAT).“People diagnosed late are 11 times more likely to die in the first year after diagnosis,” she added.The kit reacts to antibodies — proteins made in response to the virus — in a drop of the person’s blood, producing two purple lines in the event of a positive diagnosis.The self-test, which is only available via the Internet, can only detect antibodies three months after the patient has become infected, and is not effective during this initial period, and all positive results must be confirmed by professional health workers, experts said.Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive at HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said it was “great to see the first self-test kits being approved.“However, it is important to make sure people can get quick access to support when they get their result.”Currently, those who fear they may have been infected have to collect a blood sample at home and send it to a laboratory, waiting five days for the result.There are almost 110,000 people in Britain living with HIV, which can lead to AIDS if the sufferer’s immune system becomes badly damaged.A similar test in the US has been available since 2012, giving a result in around 30 minutes from a sample of the person’s saliva or blood.–AFPRelated Bountiful harvest makes Zimbabwe self-sufficient Zimbabwe launches HIV/AIDS treatment manual Uganda to introduce oral HIV self-test kit
Bars in Alaska are now offering pregnancy tests. The pilot program is meant to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome in the state. Alaska has one of the highest rates in the country. Supporters hope the tests will reach women early in pregnancy – a crucial time when they might not know they’re expecting.Download Audio:Inside the ladies room at the Peanut Farm bar in Anchorage, a dispenser advertising free pregnancy tests hangs on the wall.Press the button to get one of the self-administered urine tests, and on this day they’re all out.The front of the machine features a poster showing a silhouette of a pregnant woman drinking from a bottle. The text at the top says: “Remember the last time you had sex?”Aimee Rathbone says she didn’t notice the dispenser at first.“So, I don’t know if it would catch my eye to make me take a test before I drank,” she says.Rathbone wonders, who’s the target audience? She believes most women will quit drinking when they find out they’re pregnant.“I think anybody that might suspect it wouldn’t drink except if they were addicted. You know, if they had a drinking problem then maybe it wouldn’t really change things.”State health officials estimate more than 120 children born in Alaska each year have fetal alcohol symptoms, ranging from mental and physical disabilities to impaired growth to organ damage. Alaska also has a high rate of women who binge drink, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The University of Alaska is conducting the two-year study. Researcher David Driscoll says it will look at whether pregnancy test dispensers in bar bathrooms can be more effective at preventing fetal alcohol syndrome than posters by themselves.“Most of the strategies that we’ve used in the past have been relatively effective,” Driscoll says. “But we’re always looking for ways to try and improve our ability to provide information.”So far, the tests are in just four bars statewide, but Driscoll plans to add more soon. He says women are already filling out an online survey they’re asked to take when they use the dispensers.Between health care, education and social service costs, the state can spend millions of dollars on a person with fetal alcohol syndrome over the course of his or her lifetime. So, advocates say the $400,000 pilot project could have huge benefits.“A lot of women now understand that they shouldn’t drink,” Deb Evenson says. Evenson is an Alaska-based educator, whose fetal alcohol prevention work spans more than 30 years.“But a lot of people are still drinking in early pregnancy, and before they know they’re pregnant, and that can cause a lot of damage.”Evenson applauds the pregnancy tests as something new, even if people have known about fetal alcohol syndrome for decades.“This isn’t new information and somehow it’s missing big segments of our society. And so I think all the way that we can share the information in every direction is really a good idea.”Back at the Peanut Farm bar, basketball and hockey play on several giant screens.General Manager Travis Block says he was wary about putting the pregnancy test dispenser in the ladies room at first. But after learning about the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome in Alaska, and the potential savings from preventing the disorder, he’s a supporter.“People are going to drink, and that’s what we’re here to do is, you know, provide entertainment. But each person has to make up their own decision on what they want to do with their body.”He says maybe the tests will make some women think twice about how much they drink and what the consequences might be.