IFAS News

University of Florida

Americans are water conscious, UF/IFAS survey shows

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Shorten showers. Limit lawn irrigation. For the most part, Americans get it: They are fairly water conscious, according to a new national survey conducted by a team of University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

UF/IFAS researchers based their assessment on responses to a survey of 1,052 respondents. The poll shows 46 percent are “water considerate;” 44 percent of the participants are what researchers classified as “water savvy conservationists” and 9 percent are not concerned about water conservation.

“Water considerate” consumers take a few actions to conserve water but could stand some improvement, said Laura Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication. “Water savvy conservationists” are most likely to engage in landscape irrigation conservation practices, and they’re more likely to use professionals for various landscape tasks. The savvy ones are also more likely to have social support or perceive expectations to conserve from friends and family, Warner said.

So-called “unconcerned water users” lack the strong perceived value for water resources, said Warner, who is also affiliated with the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.

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UF hosts international symposium for Global Child Nutrition Month

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — April is Global Child Nutrition Month and researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are working to find innovative ways to combat malnutrition worldwide.

According to 2015 UNICEF, WHO and World Bank estimates, approximately 24 percent of children in the world, roughly 159 million in 2014, suffer from chronic malnutrition, and almost half of all child deaths worldwide are linked to undernutrition.

Thus, scientists from across the globe are gathering at UF on March 29 and 30 to share experiences in research and programs, and to discuss ways to improve nutrition through animal-source foods in some of the most impoverished regions in the world. The theme of the Global Nutrition Symposium, is “Nurturing Development: Improving human nutrition with animal-source foods.”

The effects of malnutrition are devastating, said Adegbola Adesogan, director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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UF CALS student wins regional award for mosquito research and leadership in the entomology field

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS, Pests

Casey Parker

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduate student received the prestigious Kirby L. Hays Memorial Award. The award, from the Entomological Society of America’s southeastern branch, was presented at the branch’s 91st annual meeting in Memphis, Tenn., on March 12 to 15.

Casey Parker recently began her Ph.D. program at the Florida Medical Entomology Lab and is dual enrolled in the master of public health program. She hopes to become a leader in the field of medical and veterinary entomology.

The award honors her work as an outstanding master’s student in entomology and nematology, taking into account her teaching experience, outreach, research and past awards.

“This is a huge honor for me,” Parker said. “Before I was presented the award, the chair of the student awards committee said one of the many reasons I was chosen for this award was because of my leadership ability in teaching, research and Extension like Dr. Hays, after whom the award is named.”

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Antique turpentine still to be unveiled at UF Austin Cary Forest

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

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’ve ever sipped Gatorade, eaten a Cadbury Crème Egg, put on a Band-Aid or used a Post-It note, you have a forest to thank.

These products are on a long list of items with ingredients derived from pine gum, the sticky substance that oozes from tapped pine trees, said Wayne Smith, emeritus professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

One hundred years ago, Florida was the world’s leading producer of pine gum, which was processed into turpentine and rosin, Smith said.

On April 1, the UF/IFAS Austin Cary Forest Campus will commemorate the turpentine industry’s impact on the state with the dedication of the A. Chester Skinner Jr. Family Turpentine Education Site. The site includes traditional and modern pine gum collection techniques, an antique turpentine still restored to historic accuracy, four educational kiosks, and ADA compliant paths connecting the site to the other buildings and trails on the campus.

The dedication will kick off the annual Spring Celebration for alumni and students of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. Dedication, ribbon-cutting and site tours are set for 10 a.m., followed by a barbeque lunch, and the School’s annual scholarship and awards ceremony.

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UF students learn how to save environment, lessen wildfires with prescribed burns

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Departments, Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Pollution, Safety, Weather

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Assistant professor Raelene Crandall walks her 18 students into Austin Cary Forest, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where they will set a fire. Crandall and the students stand out in their lemon yellow shirts, forest green pants, leather boots and gloves, and hard hats—all fireproof.

“Wildfire season is starting early this year, because we’re seeing a warmer, drier spring,” said Crandall, who teaches fire ecology in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. “Experts predict an unusually bad wildfire season this year with the dry conditions and prescribed burns may help lower that number.”

The students check the plow line, which is used to contain a fire to a particular area and then start a fire along the edge. They stand back as plants begin to burn and the fire gradually progresses. “If we don’t conduct prescribed burns, we will get larger, often catastrophic fires that threaten families and structures,” Crandall explained.

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Wet ‘dry season’ damaged valuable ornamentals

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s winters are usually dry, but the wet winter of 2015-2016 helped spread pathogens that destroyed ornamental plants in Miami-Dade County. That’s a problem in an area where the industry generated an estimated $998 million annually in sales in 2015, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers say.

Damage figures are not yet available from the 2015-2016 winter rains, but UF/IFAS scientists have found the pathogens Phytophthora and Pythium caused the most destruction. Rain spreads those pathogens, said Georgina Sanahuja, a post-doctoral researcher at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida.

Meteorologists consider Florida’s “dry season” to run from Oct. 1 to March 1 and the rest of the year to be the “wet season.” But last year, the “dry season” wasn’t so dry, because of El Niño, which brought more rain than South Florida has seen since records were kept starting in 1932, a new study published in the journal HortTechnology says.

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Lake County 4-H club opens first of five miniature community libraries

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

Who:    The Deep Roots 4-H club supported through the Lake County 4-H Youth Development Program of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

What:    Thanks to funding and donations from the Florida State 4-H Foundation, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Bob Strier of Bookman Bob, Ace Hardware and local residents, the Deep Roots 4-H club members have planned and constructed five miniature community libraries, four to be installed at local public parks and one that will travel with the club to events.

The libraries will house 5,000 books donated by Bookman Bob, and most will be for young readers. The project aims to help more children access books and experience the joy of reading. Borrowers do not need a library card, and there are no late fees.

The opening of the first library will coincide with several youth soccer games at the same location. About 400 youth are expected to participate in these games. The Deep Roots 4-H club will invite players to discover the library and learn about the project.

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Florida Agriculture Literacy Day Set for May 2

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Use your imagination to hop aboard ‘Ole Red’ and ‘Bobby Boat’ for a tour of Florida’s aquaculture and seafood industries, part of the 14th annual Florida Agriculture Literacy Day on Tuesday, May 2.

To celebrate, participants from many sectors of Florida’s agriculture sector, including employees and volunteers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will read to elementary schoolchildren in their classrooms.

They’ll read the book, “Drive Through Florida: Aquaculture and Seafood,” which features the animated red truck ‘Ole Red’ and his new friend, ‘Bobby Boat.’ Participants are encouraged to read the book ahead of time to familiarize themselves with the content before their classroom readings.

“Ag Literacy day is a great opportunity for students to learn about something they may not see in their daily lessons,” said Becky Sponholtz, executive director of Florida Agriculture in the Classroom. “Students enjoy the interaction with industry representatives, who often take the reading day as a chance to further engage students with hands-on examples of their commodities. Last year, volunteers across the state brought samples of Florida vegetables for students to taste and feel. This year some students may get to see and touch an alligator.”

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UF/IFAS shares in $2.45 million to research tickborne disease risk

Topic(s): Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Research

Plant ecologist Luke Flory, an associate professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Gainesville, is seen at a local facility where he researches invasive plants, in this 2013 file photo. UF/IFAS photo by Amy Stuart

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To protect personnel on Southeastern military installations from tickborne diseases, a federal program has awarded a five-year, $2.45 million grant to a team of researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and other institutions. The grant was provided by the federal Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, an initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The scientists will determine how tick populations are affected by invasive plants, fire and the availability of host animals in specific locations; this information will help the team assess tickborne disease risk under future climate conditions.

Portions of the project based at UF/IFAS will receive more than $700,000 in funding, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “This project requires an interdisciplinary approach to account for all of the relevant ecological factors that influence the risk of people being exposed to tickborne diseases,” Payne said. “An ideal team of subject-matter experts has come together here, and I’m proud that UF/IFAS is involved.”

Participating faculty represent UF/IFAS, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Boston University, Payne said. Field studies will take place on more than a dozen U.S. Department of Defense properties where the lone star tick is found, including sites in six states where the tick co-exists with an invasive plant known as cogongrass — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Researchers will also assess Midwestern sites where the tick is present but the invasive plant is not.

The team will conduct three years of field work to assess tick populations, white-tailed deer populations, plant communities, plant invasions, and pathogen presence in ticks, said Jackie Burns, UF/IFAS dean for research and director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. Two years of data analysis will follow, she said, with researchers using models to develop disease-exposure risk maps for future time frames and climate conditions, as well as early-warning systems and management guidelines. (more …)

UF/IFAS to host farmer’s market food safety workshop on April 10

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmer’s markets have been growing in popularity over the past decade, as consumers discover the benefits of buying farm-fresh food from local growers. However, increasing popularity has also raised food safety concerns for produce sold at farmer’s markets.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting a one-day workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, April 10. The workshop will be held at the Power Plant Business Incubator, 2nd floor training room, 405 SE Osceola Ave., Ocala, Florida 34471.

Assistant professor Soo Ahn, in the food science and human nutrition department, and other UF/IFAS faculty will host classes on what matters most to consumers, food safety issues, safety guidelines for growers and vendors, and how to ensure products are in compliance.

Cost of attendance is $40 through March 31 for early registration; $50 starting April 1. Click here to register online. For more information, contact Soo Ahn at sahn82@ufl.edu or 352-294-3909.

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

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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