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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS research finds ways to save water, strawberries and money during cold temps

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Research, Weather

Organic strawberry e-book Javier L. - Jan28,2014 - Citra - Focus grup assessment - Open field (45)-X2

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s strawberry producers must protect their multimillion-dollar annual crop from freeze damage. Traditional methods involve constant spraying of water during a cold snap. Growers are looking for ways to use less water, yet produce the same amount of crop.

New University of Florida research shows growers can keep using both their current sprinkler spacing and low pressure or enhanced real-time irrigation control to save water – and they can produce the same strawberry crop yield during mild freezes.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Michael Dukes, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering and the lead author on the study. The improvement? An automated control treatment that used real-time dew point measurements – rather than temperatures — to turn the system on and off, he said.

(more …)

Citrus greening bacterium changes the behavior of bugs to promote its own spread

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, RECs, Research
An Asian citrus psyllid feeds on a citrus tree, leaving the citrus greening bacteria. The bacteria will starve the tree of nutrients and eventually kill it.

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LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — The disease that threatens to destroy Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry appears to have its own mechanism to promote its spread, making it harder to control.  A recent study by five University of Florida researchers shows Asian citrus psyllids fly earlier in their life cycles, more frequently and farther when they are infected with citrus greening bacterium.

 

Kirsten Pelz-Stelinski and the team of researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred say these conclusions have global implications for how the disease spreads and strategies to control it. (more …)

UF/IFAS researcher finds way to cut cost, save water and help the environment by changing one simple thing

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, IFAS, RECs, Vegetables
University of Florida Professor Sanjay Shukla has developed a "compact bed geometry" that cuts water, fertilizer and pesticide use in half.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sanjay Shukla looked out over row upon row of tomato and pepper plants and had an idea: What would happen if he made the compacted soil rows taller and more narrow?  Would the plants need less water, fertilizer and fumigation?  Would the plants grow as tall?  Would the plants produce as many vegetables? (more …)

UF/IFAS study: Few science museums use the word “agriculture” to teach

Topic(s): Agriculture, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

Aerial Williams, left, Cynthia Brown and Laken McPherson add water and dyes to a groundwater simulator in a Tallahassee park (Wednesday 7/18). The device, which contains sand, plastic components and pipes, demonstrates how oil, pesticides and other chemicals poured on the ground can contaminate the water supply. Williams is in 11th grade at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Brown is a Leon County extension agent with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and McPherson is in fourth grade at Coast Charter School in Crawfordville, Fla. (AP Photo: Thomas Wright, University of Florida/IFAS)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Walk into a science museum, and you may read the words “paleontology” or “astronomy.”

But you’re not likely to find the word “agriculture” in any science museum, even though many exhibits relate to agricultural content or practices.

Katie Stofer found this gap when she surveyed 29 science museums in cities of all sizes across the U.S., and her findings are published in a new study in the journal Science Education and Civic Engagement.

“Unfortunately, we have effectively separated agriculture from the other sciences,” said Stofer, a UF/IFAS research assistant professor in agricultural education and communication.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers use pigs to root out problem weeds

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Green Living, IFAS, Livestock, Research, Vegetables
Professor of Agronomy and Weed Science Greg MacDonald with his pigs.

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CITRA, Fla. — Sometimes, the old-fashioned ways are the best ways.

Back before chemical pesticides and herbicides, farmers had to come up with ways to kill the weeds that took over their fields. One method used “back in the day” was letting pigs loose in fields that were not being used for crops for a season and allowing the pigs to do what they do naturally: dig up the roots of weeds and  fertilize the land.

In the last year, Greg MacDonald, a weed science researcher with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, decided to give the method a try to combat nutsedge, a weed that looks like grass and is so resilient it can sprout up through plastic row-crop coverings and even the plastic lining of above-ground pools. (more …)

Agricultural workers can get discounted UF football tickets for Nov. 7 homecoming game

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

University of Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, walkway, football, athletics, trees, grass, environmental horticulture. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers, ranchers, landscapers – and everyone in between – are invited to celebrate Agriculture and Gardening Day at the University of Florida’s homecoming football game, Nov. 7.

UF Athletics and UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are hosting the event and offering discounted tickets to all agricultural workers, their families and friends. (more …)

Specialty Crop Conference slated for Aug. 15 in Jacksonville

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

2011 Small Farms Conference.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The First Coast Specialty Crop Conference, created by UF/IFAS, comes to Jacksonville on Aug. 15, the first of five new regional conferences in 2015 and 2016 across the state.

The conference has evolved from an annual statewide event that began in 2009 in Kissimmee to more targeted, regional conferences across the state. A team of UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension agents and other stakeholders created the conference series, said Danielle Treadwell, a UF/IFAS associate professor in horticultural sciences.

Experts at the program at the Student Union Building of the University of North Florida will address concerns of Northeast Florida farmers, providing them with multiple learning and networking opportunities.

Whether you are interested in improving your farming skills by enhancing your soils and pest management, obtaining practical knowledge for postharvest practices, or diversifying your farm through cut-flower production, mushrooms or microgreens, this is a great place and time to learn.

(more …)

Survey: Floridians care about endangered species, want to know more

Topic(s): Uncategorized

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Floridians are passionate about conserving and protecting plants, animals and their habitats, but they feel woefully uninformed, according to a survey by the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“People seem to want to do the right thing, but don’t necessarily know what that is or how to go about it,” said Ricky Telg, PIE Center director. The center conducts four public opinion surveys every year that focus on key issues to Floridians.

An online survey of 502 Floridians showed that only a quarter of residents believed they had seen news coverage of endangered species in the past month. But, 85 percent said they would pay attention to future coverage.

More than half of those surveyed didn’t know what species were endangered in Florida, while many were also unaware of government, industry or policy impacts on endangered species.

Despite feeling uninformed, a majority of Floridians surveyed—almost 90 percent—would support or strongly support imposing fines on people who harm endangered species. Also, 88 percent agreed with imposing fines on those who harm habitats of endangered species.

When respondents were asked to prioritize which native species should be conserved, 90 percent agreed that mammals should be saved, followed by birds at 85 percent, and fish and plants at 84 percent. Floridians felt reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and microorganisms were the least important to protect.

In addition, 79 percent of Floridians agreed that the importance of maintaining a diverse ecosystem was the most important criteria to consider when prioritizing which species to protect. More than 70 percent identified the severity and urgency of the threat to endangered species as major concerns, but fewer than 30 percent prioritized the size, intelligence or attractiveness of the species.

Survey respondents said they were more likely to engage in conservation by donating to organizations and visiting zoos and museums compared to joining an organization. Floridians also showed mixed results when evaluating current policies and punishments for interfering with endangered species. More than half believed that lighting restrictions protecting sea turtles should be strengthened, while almost 60 percent felt penalties for harming gopher tortoises or their habitat were adequate.

 

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

 

Source: Ricky Telg, 352-273-2094

 

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