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Technology Upgrades Expand Virginia Tech Research and Outreach Work Across The Commonwealth

A number of technological advances to research facilities in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are being implemented this year that will help support the college and the university’s commitment to smart farming and modern research and agricultural methods.

These upgrades, in addition to updates on several capital projects, were highlighted at the June Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting.

The Virginia General Assembly approved several equipment upgrades at the university’s 11 Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, which are strategically located throughout the commonwealth. These upgrades will increase connectivity and security at the research centers, including new network switches and upgrades, all well as new wireless access points. The upgraded equipment will be deployed throughout the year.

Four of the 11 research centers have already been upgraded with new switches and wireless access points: the Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center (two switches and 14 wireless access points), Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center (five switches and 16 wireless access points), Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (five switches and 19 wireless access points), and the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center (five switches and 13 wireless access points).

In alignment with the new equipment deployments, the college’s Office of Information Technology will migrate the network from a public to a private IP space, which will increase security and provide more addresses to accommodate all new and future equipment.

The General Assembly also allocated funding to install or upgrade audiovisual equipment at Virginia Cooperative Extension county offices. Extension educational programs are often delivered with an online component, from pesticide certification and Master Gardener classes to leadership and community meetings. Based on a survey provided to the county offices, equipment bundles were developed, and each district selected a bundle based on its individual need. These upgrades will allow Extension to better facilitate community outreach efforts via a virtual platform.

In addition to equipment upgrades, several buildings for the college are nearing completion. The buildings, which will help the livestock and poultry industries thrive, are part of the newly formed School of Animal Sciences, which merged the departments of Animal and Poultry Sciences and Dairy Science into one cohesive unit to strengthen their impact on the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

The Swine Center as well as the Beef Nutrition and Kentland Hay Shed at Kentland Farm are nearing competition and awaiting occupation. The Swine Center, a 24,000-square-foot facility, houses a small-scale swine production and research facility, classrooms, boar housing and gestation facilities, and rooms for farrowing, nursery, and finishing. The Beef Nutrition and Kentland Hay Shed, at approximately 33,000 square feet, includes a 20-stall cattle housing area for feed studies, loading chutes, a feed mixing room, laboratory space, four grain bins, four covered bulk commodity bins, and a three-sided hay shed.

The broiler and turkey facilities and equine barn and equipment storage facility projects are complete, according to the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities.

The broiler and turkey facilities are small-scale research facilities on Glade Road. They include pens, work areas, and feed storage. The equine barn and equipment storage facility have more than 18,000 square feet of room and include a 29-stall horse barn with tack rooms, wash stalls, groom stalls, manure storage, locker rooms, and both heated and unheated storage rooms.

According to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences facilities team, all of these projects are 99 percent complete and are projected to be fully operational by the end of 2023.

Max Esterhuizen

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