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Florida Extension is a partnership between the University of Florida and Florida A&M University to improve the quality of life for people like you through education. In the coming decade, decisions will be made by Florida Extension that influence you and your community.

We invite you to participate in our Community Input Survey as a way to give your opinions about certain issues that may impact these decisions. (more …)

UF/IFAS findings could help prevent crop-killing pathogen from coming to U.S.

Topic(s): Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New findings by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers could help prevent more genetic strains of the potato- and tomato-killing late-blight pathogen from entering the United States.

These findings may provide further evidence to help researchers solve the $6 billion-a-year disease that continues to evolve and torment potato and tomato growers around the world.

Erica Goss, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of plant pathology, who published a study in 2014 showing Toluca, Mexico as the origin of the late-blight pathogen, has now discovered the pathogen in other parts of Mexico. Goss and her team also found that each strain varies genetically.

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Hillsborough County pesticide collection aides farmers, protects environment

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Pollution

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When a pesticide is discontinued or banned by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, farmers may opt to store these products until they figure out how to dispose of them properly, says Stephen Gran, director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Hillsborough County.

However, this temporary solution should be just that—temporary, Gran explained.

“Storing these products for long periods poses unnecessary risks to employees, the community and the environment,” Gran explained. “However, proper disposal can be hard to secure, especially for smaller agricultural operations. We knew a public collection program could help farmers get rid of unusable inventory while mitigating potential environmental impacts.”

Starting in 2003, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County began collaborating with state and county agencies to provide free collection, handling and disposal of canceled pesticides to area farmers. In 2016, the pesticide collection program collected and disposed of more than 7,500 pounds of pesticides. Over 92,000 pounds have been collected since the start of the program, he said.

The next pesticide collection day is set for Jan. 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 7202, East Eighth Avenue, Tampa, FL, 33619.

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UF/IFAS model delivers growers severe weather data specific to their farms

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers can now learn about the probability of extreme weather events on their farm before the growing season so they can more appropriately plan agricultural practices such as when to fertilize and irrigate, thanks to new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research.

UF/IFAS experts, led by Caroline Staub and Diego Pequeno, are conducting a study in which they hope to give growers tools to anticipate extreme weather such as severe heat or dry spells during the various phases of crop development. If severe weather strikes during flowering, for example, it can severely impact crops. Their motivation is to better integrate weather information with the decision set at the farmer’s disposal, so that weather-related risk can be reduced in time, Staub said.

“Growers kept asking us, ‘What is the probability of getting an extreme weather event on my farm when my crop is ready to harvest,’” said Staub, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS agricultural and biological engineering department.

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UF/IFAS helps prepare agriculture workers for revised federal regulation

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS, RECs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is getting the word out on updates to the federal Worker Protection Standard. Changes take effect January 2017.

The Worker Protection Standard is a regulation originally issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1992, and was most recently revised in 2015 and goes into effect this year. This regulation is primarily intended to reduce the risks of illness or injury to workers and handlers resulting from occupational exposures to pesticides used in the production of agricultural plants on agricultural establishments, said Fred Fishel, professor of agronomy and director of the Pesticide Information Office. This includes farms, forests, nurseries and enclosed space production facilities such as greenhouses, he said.

Workers are generally those who perform hand-labor tasks in pesticide-treated crops, such as harvesting, thinning, and pruning. Handlers are usually those that are in direct contact with pesticides such as mixing, loading, or applying pesticides.

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UF/IFAS Extension Baker County breaks ground on new teaching orchard

Topic(s): 4-H, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you want to know how best to prune a fruit tree or even how to plant one, Alicia Lamborn can do more than just tell you—she can take you out back and show you.

Lamborn, a horticulture agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Baker County, recently received a $500 grant from Miracle Grow to establish a fruit tree orchard in the arboretum behind the county office. She’ll use the area to teach residents how to care for plum, fig, persimmon and other types of fruit trees.

“I’m a learn-by-doing kind of person, and that’s how I prefer to teach others,” Lamborn said. “For locals who have always wanted to grow fresh fruit in their backyard, the demonstration orchard is a place where they can get the hands-on experience they’ll need to be successful.”

The learn-by-doing approach was on display earlier this month when Lamborn and 4-H agent Shaina Spann led a group of Florida Master Gardeners, 4-H volunteers and 4-H youth in planting over a dozen fruit trees, as well as blackberry and blueberry bushes, in the orchard area.

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UF/IFAS celebrates Arbor Day with research, Extension activities, including tree giveaways

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Forestry, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida Arbor Day approaches on Jan. 20, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and research faculty are holding special commemorations and studying how to ensure trees help our environment and economy.

“Arbor Day is a great time for everyone to be reminded of the importance of trees and forests in their everyday lives and to contribute to the approximately 70 million trees that are planted each year in Florida for reforestation,” said Tim Martin, professor and co-interim director of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

“Wood harvested from Florida’s forests is the largest agricultural commodity in the state,” Martin said. “But these forests provide much more than just paper and boards. Clean water and air, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity are a just a few of the important benefits that forests provide for us all.”

In fact, UF/IFAS researchers have calculated that a typical acre of Florida forest provides more than $5,000 of services to the state’s residents each year, with just 7 percent of that value from timber, he said.

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50 Florida 4-H youth to attend presidential inauguration

Topic(s): 4-H, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — On Jan. 20, 50 youth from the Florida 4-H youth development program will attend the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., to learn more about U.S. democracy and civic engagement.

“4-H believes in learning by doing, and this is an opportunity for our young people to be really engaged in our political process at the highest level,” said Chris Decubellis, associate state program leader for Florida 4-H youth development.

Florida 4-H members will attend the inauguration as part of the Citizenship Washington Focus program, a national program held in Washington, D.C., and attended by 4-H members from across the country ages 14 to 19. 4-H members confirmed their attendance for the inauguration nine months prior to the Nov. 2016 election.

Florida 4-H members will arrive in the capital on Jan. 17 and stay through Jan. 20.

“I am excited for the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and witness such a monumental event in history,” said Gabi Sullivan, an attendee from Marion County and president of the Florida 4-H State Council. “Attending the inauguration is a once in a lifetime event for me, and I believe the experience will open my mind to many new ideas and people.”

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UF/IFAS experts to stress environment, immigration, production at ag policy conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Food Safety, IFAS, RECs, Research

Spiro Stefanou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists and other experts will explore economic insights helpful for making informed business and policy decisions at the second annual Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference, organized by the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

This year’s topics include the innovation economy, food and nutrition policy, agricultural labor, water quality and management and agricultural production policy and trade.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Balm, Florida.

“Agriculture is a vital industry for Florida with interesting opportunities and compelling challenges as we move into the future,” said Spiro Stefanou, chair of the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Our goal is to bring industry experts, researchers, policy and business leaders together to discuss the current and emerging challenges related to Florida as an engine of innovation, policy related to food, nutrition and consumer decision making, water quality and management, agricultural labor and the prospects for our fruit and vegetable industry.”

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Nature Coast research internships give UF students an edge

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pollution, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Last summer, Cory Gillis found himself waking before dawn at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, where he’d been assigned to track the breeding calls of the northern bobwhite quail as part of an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But he wasn’t complaining.

“It was amazing to be out in the forest before sunrise in an area without any human influence, not even a sound,” said Gillis, now a senior in the University of Florida department of wildlife ecology and conservation.

Summer internships like Gillis’ are made possible by Nature Coast Biological Station, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Each year, the station selects a handful of students in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences for internships with various researchers, agencies and labs on Florida’s Nature Coast.

Applications for 2017 summer internships will be open in February, said Savanna Barry, Florida Sea Grant regional specialized agent based at the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station. This winter, another group of students will intern with the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, where they will collect data on manatee-human interactions and assist with other duties around the busy manatee tourism season, Barry said.

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Big Bend Science Symposium puts research on public view

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pollution, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scientists on Florida’s Big Bend coastline spend their careers studying local ecosystems and finding solutions to challenges such as oyster reef decline or the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Feb 1 to 3, the second annual Big Bend Science Symposium will hold an open forum where the public can meet these scientists and learn about their discoveries and projects.

“The goal of the symposium is to communicate the latest science being done in the Big Bend region and to give visitors a chance to engage directly with scientists,” said Mendy Allen, program coordinator for the Nature Coast Biological Station, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Symposium scientists will represent several universities, including the University of Florida, state and federal agencies, and conservation groups.

Oral presentations will begin Feb. 1 at 9 a.m. at the Cedar Key Community Center located at 809 6th Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625. All presenters registered with the symposium may attend.

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