Dr. Simerjeet Virk is an assistant professor and Extension specialist at the University of Georgia (UGA), in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department. He is originally from India and completed his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering there. For his master’s degree, he moved to the United States to attend Auburn University (AU), where he continued his studies in Agricultural Engineering. His Ph. D. is from UGA, also in Agricultural Engineering, with a specialization in Precision Agriculture. Since August of 2020, he has been a faculty member in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at the UGA Tifton campus.
Within his role, as the precision extension specialist, he works closely with the machinery and technology that relates to row crops. The purpose of his work is to determine the efficiency and productivity benefits associated with precision ag technologies for different machinery systems. A majority of the research he works with includes testing, evaluation, and implementation of the precision ag technologies and practices. His role also includes sharing this research with UGA Extension agents and growers.
One of his most impactful projects in peanut relates to precision nutrient management. This project focuses on how to utilize practices such as precision soil sampling strategies to identify the spatial variability and technology to vary the lime application rate in peanut line application. Their team is also looking into how accurately the current application equipment can apply lime and gypsum in the fields. One of the other projects they are working on is the evaluation of different application parameters and spray technologies on pesticide coverage and herbicide drift. For pest management, the idea that a specific nozzle could be well suited for cotton production, but not for peanut and how this will affect pesticide efficacy and pest control. Their team is also investigating how some of the more advanced spray technologies can better assist in pest management in peanuts. Virk explained that growers typically do anywhere from 6 to 8 fungicide applications in peanut, so even if they can improve one application by 5%, that will accumulate over the season.
Their team is also working with industry to test and utilize these new technologies in peanut production. The industry partnerships focus on how to use and develop new technologies for a crop like peanut. Largely, most of the information from these research projects is shared directly with growers. This information includes how to utilize the best management practices as well as technologies available for the application equipment. Virk explained that most of this research is very applied and will be easy for growers to adapt, especially because most growers already have the technology on their farms, and this information teaches them how to get the best use out of it.
These projects related to peanut research are funded by the Georgia Peanut Commission and the National Peanut Board.
by Caraline Coombs, student assistant, UGA Peanut Team Media