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Jim Maitland

By Charlie Stott

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995

"I have never known anyone to give so unselfishly of their time, facilities and expertise to their clientele as does Jim Maitland," says Jim Jones, director of the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

It is such effort and recognition that makes Maitland a 1995 recipient of the Alumni Association Extension Excellence Award. Maitland,a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Dinwiddie County, is "an energetic, tireless, dedicated Extension professional," said Jones.

"A primary focus of Jim's program is to improve the profitability of the local agriculture. Frequently, his work has culminated in highly relevant multi-county programs, benefiting a wide geographical audience. He has taken a regional leadership role in developing and contributing to educational programs pertaining to cotton production, pesticide applicator training, and worker protection standards," Jones said.

Dinwiddie County, in southeastern Virginia, has a highly diversified agricultural industry. As the agriculture and natural resources Extention agent, Maitland is responsible for educational programs in peanuts, corn, tobacco, soybeans, cotton, grain sorghum, small grains, dairy and beef cattle, sheep, commercial fruits, and commercial vegetables.

Conscious of the need for both profitability and environmental enhancement, Maitland initiated an area-wide educational program on no-till and minimum-till crop production, which has improved water quality and reduced soil loss. As a result of his efforts, no-till and minimum-till practices have increased from a few hundred acres to more than 20,000 acres. With these systems, growers have reduced soil loss by an estimated 1.5 tons per acre.

Maitland also worked with Pat Phipps of the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center on a way to improve the advisory program for peanut leafspot, a highly destructive disease of peanuts. Integration of a product, Envirocaster, into the advisory program has resulted in a state-wide reduction of 300,000 to 400,000 pounds of pesticides used on peanuts.

Anticipating a resurgence in Virginia cotton production, Maitland initiated research to study varieties and production practices that were adaptable for conditions in the commonwealth. His work with researchers at three agricultural research and extension centers on variety information has helped increase Virginia's cotton production from a few hundred acres in 1990 to more than 40,000 acres last year.

Maitland's knowledge of agriculture is highly regarded by research and Extension faculty members, by government officials, and by the agricultural community. A research colleague notes: "The interest among his growers for his Extension message is an indication of his abilities as an effective teacher. His up-to-date knowledge of production recommendations for the numerous crops grown in Dinwiddie County has amazed me."