Tennessee Alumnus

Know Ag? Think again

A mixture of barley and crimson clover are among the many variations of plants and flowers on

(Above) A mixture of barley and crimson clover are among the many variations of plants and flowers on display at the UT Gardens in Knoxville.

Day 7: UT Institute of Agriculture

Established in 1869 as the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Units: AgResearch, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, College of Veterinary Medicine, UT Extension

Students: 1,900
Employees: 1,620
Website: ag.tennessee.edu

Finding solutions is the best way to describe the purpose of the Institute of Agriculture (UTIA). Standing on the pillars of academic excellence, delivering discoveries, hands-on learning and community service, the institute’s four units fulfill their mission statewide and beyond.

(Above left) Camilla the horse stands in the saltwater therapy area in the new Equine Performance and Rehabilitation Center

For 145 years, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources has been educating agriculturalists, food scientists, foresters and more. Since its creation in 1974, the College of Veterinary Medicine continues to grow and excel. The new Equine Performance and Rehabilitation Center and renovated and expanded farm animal and equine hospitals provide improved treatment for about 15,000 animals annually as well as training for students. The rehab center is the only one in the Southeast overseen by board-certified veterinarians in sports medicine and surgery, and UT has the world’s most comprehensive rehab program for horses, livestock, small animals and exotic species.

Video: Sue Hamilton gives a tour of the Beall Family Rose Garden.

Researchers in the Center for Renewable Carbon are converting biomass into various products and studying their uses.

The Institute’s AgResearch and UT Extension units, each with more than a century of service, bring university knowledge to Tennesseans on topics such as human and animal health and wellness, production practices, managing farming businesses and lead-free housing. There is a UT Extension office in all 95 counties. “We can really say we are the front porch of the university,” says Tim Cross, dean of UT Extension, whose office is located on the UTIA campus in Knoxville. Funded by federal, state and local governments, UT Extension returns an estimated $9.88 for every public dollar spent. Finding ways for our country to be energy independent is among the goals of the Center for Renewable Carbon, a hub of bioenergy and biomaterials research. Faculty study every part of the bioenergy chain from identifying beneficial chemicals in biomass such as switchgrass to converting raw biomass into ethanol and creating bio-based products like carbon fiber.

Beetles reared in the Lindsay Young Beneficial Insects Lab will be released to help combat the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, easily recognizable by the white waxy substance that covers it on branches.

The UT Gardens comprise the state botanical garden. Its beautiful settings in Knoxville, Jackson and Crossville serve as public gardens, education centers and test sites for new plants, including a collection for HGTV HOME. UTIA also works with insects, combating undesirables like ticks and mosquitoes and fostering those who are good neighbors. The Lindsay Young Beneficial Insects Lab has raised more than a million beetles to prey on hemlock woolly adelgids, which are killing hemlock trees in the Eastern U.S. including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited. The goal is to create a population equilibrium between the insects that will keep the invasive adelgids in check and halt destruction of hemlocks. Different species of the beetles are being raised and tested to see which works best at combating the adelgids.

Our cover photos with the convertible were taken in Knoxville on and near the grounds of the Institute of Agriculture’s East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center’s Holston unit along the Tennessee River, which we crossed three times during our road trip.