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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Lawn and Garden Fest slated for Saturday, March 14

Topic(s): Agriculture, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

Landscaping, ornamentals, gardening.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Just in time for spring’s arrival, Lawn and Garden Fest returns to the University of Florida campus on Saturday, March 14, to offer residents free advice and information to help them beautify their yards.

It takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Extension Soil Testing Laboratory on the corner of Mowry Road and Hull Road, in the southwest quadrant of the UF campus. The public is invited to the event, which will take place rain or shine, and is presented by the Soil and Water Science Department, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS.

Faculty members from several UF/IFAS departments will be available for consultations at information booths set up under a large tent, said organizer George Hochmuth, a soil and water science professor.

“No matter what questions or problems you may have with your plants, soils or lawn, our experts can help,” Hochmuth said. “Even if you’re happy with the state of your yard, you can probably learn a thing or two just by attending.”

Topics covered at the event will include landscape design, plant variety selection for Florida conditions, establishing new plants, soil chemistry, plant nutrition, fertilization, irrigation, plant diseases, insect and nematode pests, fruit and vegetable gardening, organic production and keeping your lawn in tip-top condition.

The event also offers door prizes and tours of several facilities, and visitors are invited to bring samples of sick or pest-infested plants for diagnosis. Visitors may also bring one soil sample for free pH testing, a procedure that determines the degree of acidity or alkalinity in the soil.

Soil pH testing has been one of the event’s most popular features in previous years, said lead organizer Rao Mylavarapu, director of the Extension Soil Testing Laboratory and a soil and water science professor.

“Soil pH is a very important factor in plant health, and it’s often overlooked by homeowners,” Mylavarapu said. “The pH can vary from one part of your yard to another, and the pH needs of ornamental plants vary from one species to another. You want to make sure you have the right plant in the right place.”

Instructions for collecting the soil sample are posted on the Lawn and Garden Fest Facebook page, http://on.fb.me/1ajNDbB. Tests can be completed for visitors while they wait, but those who plan to stay on-site only a short time can receive results by e-mail. Faculty experts can also explain how to correct pH problems.

For those interested in learning more about pH testing and other chemical analyses, the Extension Soil Testing Laboratory will offer guided tours approximately every 20 minutes. The nearby UF Plant Diagnostic Center will offer tours on the hour, and visitors can also drive to the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory for walking tours of UF’s largest on-campus tract of wildland.

All visitors will be eligible for door-prize drawings, which will happen every 30 minutes, Hochmuth said. Winners will receive everything from free full-range soil chemistry testing to merchandise from the UF/IFAS Extension book store.

Representatives of the book store will be on hand throughout the event with a selection of books, DVDs, identification aids and other items available for sale. Complimentary refreshments will be available as well.

“This is our fourth year and we believe this will be the biggest and best Lawn and Garden Fest yet,” Hochmuth said. “Come on out and get yourself ready to spruce up your yard this spring!”

By Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Sources: Rao Mylavarapu, 352-294-3113, raom@ufl.edu

George Hochmuth, 352-294-3114, hoch@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Middle School students return to woods for tree study

Topic(s): Forestry, IFAS

Michael Andreu and Rob Northrop discuss urban forestry Robert Northrop, Michael Andreu, Hillsborough County, extension, extension agent, UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Michael Andreu

GAINESVILLE, FLA ─ Westwood Middle School will return to woods near their campus next week as part of a tree study they’re doing with University of Florida scientists.

The sixth graders began the second of three studies in the Kids in the Woods program last week.

The study, led by Michael Andreu, an associate professor in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, focuses on tree benefits ─ including pollution control and energy savings through shade ─ at the school/Westside Park and in Loblolly Woods Nature Park.

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Eighth annual UF Bee College event returns March 6-7

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers

A bee on a sunflower.  Helianthus annuus, annuals, honey bees, insects, pollination.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s sweetest event for all things honey bee is set for March 6-7, University of Florida officials announced this week.

The University of Florida’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory has organized and hosted the UF Bee College since 2008 for hobbyists, professionals and anyone interested in maintaining a healthy honey bee population. The event will be held at the UF Whitney Marine Laboratory in Marineland, Fla. (more …)

UF/IFAS’ Sturmer recognized with prestigious national Extension award

Topic(s): Announcements, Aquaculture, Extension, IFAS

STURMERAWARD 022615

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Leslie Sturmer is rooted in the culture – or should we say “aquaculture” – of Cedar Key.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent works with shellfish harvesters and farmers in the small North Florida Gulf Coast town.

“I’ve been in aquaculture my whole life,” said Sturmer, “I’ve lived here for 22 years. I’m married to a clam farmer. I’d like to think I provide assistance to the industry.”

Last month, Sturmer was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the U.S. Chapter of the World Aquaculture Society.

“To be honored by your peers is very rewarding,” she said. “I’d hate to think it’s because I’m getting old. To see Cedar Key continue to be a working waterfront community, to see this community be supported by aquaculture is more rewarding than the plaque. But the plaque is recognition that your peers see you’re doing worthwhile work.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS part of new website showcasing land-grant university impacts

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To help inform agricultural producers, policymakers and the public about its accomplishments, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is contributing to a new website, http://landgrantimpacts.org, that showcases projects by research and Extension programs at UF/IFAS and other land-grant universities nationwide.

By participating, UF/IFAS will raise awareness of accomplishments by its research arm, the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, and its Extension unit, the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“We’re very pleased to contribute to this effort and inform our stakeholders about the great successes UF/IFAS faculty are having in research and Extension, which are two of UF/IFAS’ primary missions, along with education,” Payne said. “I’m often asked about the impacts of our work, and the Land-Grant Impacts website provides an excellent venue for us to demonstrate those impacts.”

The website provides brief narratives about individual research and Extension projects, submitted by land-grant institutions around the country. Florida is home to two land-grant institutions, UF and Florida A&M University. The database is searchable by state or region, as well as the year the posting was submitted and the subject matter the posting involves. (more …)

UF/IFAS partners with USDA to conduct grant workshop to support local foods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers

Farmers Market

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – UF/IFAS Extension is working with federal partners to offer a workshop in Miami in April to help interested parties write and submit federal grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion programs.

UF/IFAS is part of a national effort to train people in attaining these grants.

Workshops are being conducted across the nation, but the Florida workshop will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., April 8 at the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department, 3071 SW 38th Ave., Miami. Pre-registration is not required but is strongly encouraged to ensure materials are available for all participants. Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/amsta-technical-assistance-program-tickets-15668841928.

With $30 million authorized annually through fiscal year 2018 by the 2014 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awards grants to develop new markets for farm and ranch operations serving local and regional markets. The Farmers Market Promotion Program supports farmers markets and other direct producer-to-consumer activities, while the Local Food Promotion Program supports enterprises that aggregate, store, distribute and process local and regional food.

(more …)

Two UF/IFAS experts chosen for national program to help solve community issues

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, IFAS

COMMUNITIES Spranger 022315Muthusami Kumaran.  Family, Youth, and Community Sciences.

Spranger, left, and Kumaran

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members will help a national effort to solve “wicked” community issues.

“Wicked issues” are not evil – they just can’t be easily fixed, said Michael Spranger, a professor in the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences and one of the UF/IFAS faculty members selected for the program. Wicked issues are incomplete, contradictory or continually changing and involve many people come from diverse sets of values and beliefs, Spranger said.

“These issues cannot be easily fixed with a technical solution, but may involve discussions with those impacted by the decision to find common ground,” he said.

Muthusami Kumaran, an assistant professor in family, youth and community sciences, will join Spranger in the training program.

Issues they tackle could include obesity and wellness, food safety and security, low-income housing, poverty, homelessness, public safety, economic development and environmental protection and all matters in between.

(more …)

3 blueberry, 3 coleus cultivars approved for release by UF/IFAS

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Cultivars, IFAS

Cultivar release FEBRUARY 2015 FL06-203_field cluster

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Three new cultivars each of blueberry and coleus have been approved for release by a University of Florida panel.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cultivar Release Committee approved Avanti “FL 06-203,’ Arcadia ‘FL 07-399’ and Endura ‘FL 06-377’ – all blueberry cultivars.

Jim Olmstead, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences and a blueberry breeder, said the cultivars performed best in the central and southern part of Florida’s blueberry region, which includes Desoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Orange, Pasco, Polk and Sarasota counties. Those areas currently produce more than 50 percent of the state’s blueberries.

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UF survey shows Floridians want to conserve water, but not if it costs too much

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

PIE Center water photo 021815

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians remain concerned about water and are willing to make changes to conserve it, at least until their efforts cramp their lifestyles, according to an annual University of Florida study on state residents’ attitudes about this precious resource.

For the second consecutive year, an annual online survey conducted by UF’s Center for Public Issues in Education shows that water ranks third on a list of 10 topics people consider important — behind the economy and healthcare and ahead of public education and taxes. Eighty-three percent of 749 respondents indicated water is an important or extremely important issue.

Yet while three-quarters of them said they were likely to vote to support water conservation programs and nearly as many said they would support water restrictions issued by their local government, only 42 percent were willing to take action to conserve water if it meant their lawns would suffer.

(more …)

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