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University of Florida receives part of $7 million grant to empower women farmers in Africa

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, IFAS
An Ethiopian woman brings cow dung to market, which is sold as a fuel for fire. By Kathleen Colverson.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – When Kathleen Colverson works in places like Mozambique, Tanzania and Ethiopia, she watches as women farmers rise before dawn to gather firewood and water to make breakfast for their families.

They send the older children off to school, strap their babies to their backs, and leave the 5-year-olds to watch the toddlers while the women head into the field to raise greens, corn and beans, said Colverson, associate director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ international programs – also known as IFAS Global.

At harvest time, they pick the crop, dry it and then process it – all by hand.  If they are fortunate, they belong to a women’s co-op, which helps them sell their crops and any crafts they make at home by firelight after cooking dinner.

“I have tremendous admiration for women farmers because they are such strong, capable people,” said Colverson, whose work is part of UF/IFAS’ mission to help farmers throughout Florida, the U.S. and the world learn about the latest crops and growing techniques.

The United States Agency for International Development recently awarded UF/IFAS part of a $7 million grant to help extension provide better reach to African women farmers, which will contribute to higher household incomes and improved nutrition.  USAID administers this and other programs, providing economic and humanitarian aid in more than 80 countries worldwide. (more …)

UF/IFAS organic strawberry research featured in e-book

Topic(s): Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Economics

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A new e-book from the University of Arkansas System features University of Florida scientists’ quest to establish a Florida organic strawberry industry.

A chapter titled “Organic open-field and high tunnel strawberry cropping systems for long-term viability of the southeastern industry” examines the participation of five Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty in the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative sponsored by the Walmart Foundation.

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‘Nudges’ try to help college students live healthier

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Nutrition

College weight 111214

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Internet lessons and “tailored” text alerts can help some young people adopt healthier lifestyles, according to a national study aimed at preventing weight gain.

Although experimental group students didn’t gain or lose more weight than their control group counterparts, researchers remain hopeful the Internet-message approach can work because it helped college students progress from what researchers call the “contemplative stage” to the “action stage.”

An example of the contemplative stage would be someone who’s thinking about trying to eat fatty foods less frequently, but hasn’t taken action to do so, while someone at the action stage would choose to eat a salad, instead.

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Endangered green sea turtle, ‘IFAS,’ recovering from surgery

Topic(s): Conservation, Extension, Uncategorized

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An endangered green sea turtle rescued last month in the lower Florida Keys was recovering today after surgery performed Friday to remove potentially life-threatening tumors from its eyes.

Shelly Krueger, a Florida Sea Grant agent who works with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Monroe County, was leading a group of Florida Master Naturalist students on a snorkeling trip at the Mote Marine Lab Center for Tropical Research’s coral nursery, in the lower Florida Keys when they discovered the turtle.

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UF/IFAS mosquito-feeding study may help stem dangerous viruses

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, RECs, Research, Safety

Culiset_melanura1

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mosquitoes bite male birds nearly twice as often as they bite females, a finding that may help scientists understand how to stem some viruses from spreading to humans, new University of Florida research shows.

In findings published online today in Royal Society Open Science, UF entomology assistant professor Nathan Burkett-Cadena found mosquitoes bite male birds 64 percent of the time, compared to 36 percent for females.

This marks the first step for scientists to try to determine why mosquitoes bite men more often than women in some parts of the world and vice versa in other areas, said Burkett-Cadena, who is based at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach.

“Understanding why mosquitoes bite males more often than females may lead to novel strategies for interrupting disease transmission,” said Burkett-Cadena, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.

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UF/IFAS researcher finds inexpensive, easy way to filter arsenic from water

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Environment, IFAS, Pollution, Research
UF/IFAS Researcher Bin Gao has developed an inexpensive and easy way to filter arsenic from water.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida professor has developed a quick, cheap and easy way to filter from water one of the world’s most common pollutants: arsenic.

Bin Gao’s team used iron-enhanced carbon cooked from hickory chips, called biochar, to remove the toxin. He is an associate professor with the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ in agricultural and biological engineering. (more …)

Lauded science communicator Alison Van Eenennaam to give fall York lecture

Topic(s): Announcements, Uncategorized

Alison Van Eenennaam

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For scientists to better communicate with the public, they’ll have to use more than their brains: they’ll need their hearts and souls as well, says Alison Van Eenennaam, who will present the fall 2014 York lecture.

Van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California, Davis, will give a talk called “GMO Technology: What do the facts say?” Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. at Emerson Alumni Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.

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UF/IFAS panel approves three new tomato breeding lines, three other cultivars

Topic(s): Cultivars, IFAS, Research

Caladium cultivar UF 432 Caladium cultivar UF 4015 Oat cultivar

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida scientists hope three new breeding lines approved for release will eventually improve the virus resistance and quality of future tomato varieties.

The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cultivar Release Committee, in partnership with the Florida Foundation Seed Producers Inc., approved Fla. 8638B, Fla. 8624 and Fla. 8923 on Oct. 22.

Fla. 8923 shows promise for resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus while 8624 and 8638B provide resistance to yellow leaf curl virus and tomato mottle virus, according to Professor Jay Scott and Assistant Professor Sam Hutton, tomato breeders at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.

Committee members agreed to release the breeding lines hoping seed companies can use them to develop improved cultivars for Florida and globally. The resistance genes these improved lines provide originated from a wild tomato species that Scott transferred into tomatoes nearly 25 years ago.

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UF, N.C. A&T forge ahead with organic strawberry research

Topic(s): Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Research

Strawberries.  UF/IFAS Photo by Marisol Amador.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With an additional $200,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, scientists from the University of Florida and North Carolina A&T University are expanding grower engagement in organic strawberry research.

While the focus of the 2013-2014 work was broad and exploratory, a key component of this year’s research will be to test the best aspects of the organic strawberry production system under farm conditions and with grower management.

Growers at three farms in North Central Florida are assessing two cover crops and three commercial strawberry cultivars that performed well in last year’s Phase I trials. Grower evaluations of the Phase I research resulted in suggestions that researchers assess cover crop combinations as well as a cover crop that could produce a marketable product.

In Phase II, scientists will evaluate the on-station and on-farm research for seasonal variability in market yield, nutrient-use efficiency, consumer acceptance and response to postharvest handling and storage.

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