(01/25/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Forestry is big business in Louisiana, and some students from the Czech Republic are visiting the LSU AgCenter to learn more about research being conducted to support the state’s top agricultural commodity.
Seven students working on master’s degrees in tropical forestry at Mendel University are spending a week in Baton Rouge meeting with LSU students and AgCenter scientists in campus laboratories and at the Botanic Gardens at Burden. Their itinerary also includes visits to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry headquarters and the A. Wilbert’s Sons land management company.
Accompanying the students are Petr Madera, a Mendel forestry professor, and Lukas Kala, director of the university’s international office.
The AgCenter has had a partnership with the university, located in the Czech city of Brno, since 2014.
“We appreciate the longstanding partnership and are glad that we have the opportunity to have you all over so that you can see what we are doing and so that we can learn from you,” Matt Lee, interim LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, told the group during a welcome meeting Jan. 23.
Lee told the visitors that forestry generates $3 billion to $4 billion annually in Louisiana.
“It’s a big part of what we do,” he said. “It’s the biggest commodity in the state.”
AgCenter forestry research programs include finding uses for wood byproducts and working to prevent infestations of invasive insects. Both of those topics fit into a new framework of priority research areas that Lee has been developing.
Lee has laid out seven priorities: soil health, land and water management; crop genetics, plant breeding and plant health; livestock and wildlife animal management; invasive species management; precision agriculture; nutrition and food safety; and biofuels, feedstocks and bioproducts.
“We’ve been working hard to get some focus on our research areas for the organization to help move the agricultural industry in the state forward, and also to move the agricultural industry throughout the nation and globally forward,” he said.
He added that extension personnel with the AgCenter also have a crucial role to play in these efforts, as they help communicate important research findings to the industry. International collaboration also is valuable, he said.
A group of LSU agriculture students is set to visit Mendel over spring break. Mendel and the AgCenter also are planning their third annual joint food symposium, which this year will include a new partner from Poland, the Warsaw University of Life Sciences.
Matt Lee, interim LSU vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture, speaks Jan. 23 to a group of students visiting from Mendel University, which is located in the Czech Republic. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
A group of students studying for master’s degrees in tropical forestry at Mendel University in the Czech Republic is visiting the LSU AgCenter. Here, the students hold a Czech flag while posing for a group photo with AgCenter personnel. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter
A group of students studying for master’s degrees in tropical forestry at Mendel University in the Czech Republic is visiting the LSU AgCenter. They planted trees during a visit to the AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden. Photo by Ivana Tregenza/LSU AgCenter