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University of Florida

UF/IFAS West Florida REC to host Fall Harvest Dinner on Nov. 13

Topic(s): Uncategorized

WHO:   UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center will host the annual Fall Harvest Dinner on Nov. 13. Tickets are $50 per person and are tax deductible. Proceeds from the event will be used to convert an existing equipment building at the UF/IFAS West Florida REC in Jay into a conference facility for faculty, staff and students.

WHAT: The Fall Harvest Dinner is held each year to raise funds for the UF/IFAS West Florida REC. The mission of the center is to create and extend knowledge in agriculture and natural resources through teaching, research and Extension to improve the quality of life.

WHERE: The Fall Harvest Dinner will be held at the UF/IFAS West Florida REC, 4253 Experiment Road, Hwy 182, Jay, Fla., 32565.

WHEN: The dinner is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13.

INFO: Tickets include dinner and show by comedian Lee McBride. Lee is a family friendly comedian and story teller. For more information or to buy tickets, call Robin Vickers at 850-983-7134.


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

Source: Robin Vickers, 850-983-7134, rvickers@ufl.edu

UF study shows restored oyster reefs beneficial beyond the dinner plate – shellfish help create and protect habitats critical to wildlife and human communities

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Conservation, Environment, New Technology, Pollution
Researchers working on an oyster bar survey off of the coast of Cedar Key, Florida.  Airboat, storm clouds, coast.

Researchers working on an oyster bar survey off of the coast of Cedar Key, Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Oysters thrive under brackish conditions, and now a University of Florida study reveals that the bivalves can actually help create the mix of fresh water and brine they crave.

While evaluating a new method of restoring degraded oyster reefs, researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF’s College of Engineering confirmed an observation that Cedar Key-area oystermen have made for years – some oyster reefs act as natural dams, impounding fresh water that flows seaward from nearby creeks and rivers.

The result: large areas of reduced-salinity water that help maintain near-shore estuarine habitats supporting oysters, sea grasses, juvenile game fish and invertebrates important to the marine food chain as well as seafood production and recreational opportunities for people.

This finding, published in a report available at http://www.projects.tnc.org/coastal, could aid ecological and fishery restoration projects along Florida’s Big Bend Coast, a largely undeveloped area bordering the Gulf of Mexico between Wakulla and Pasco counties, said project leader Peter Frederick, a professor with UF/IFAS’ Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.

The Big Bend Coast is one of the nation’s few coastal areas featuring numerous oyster reefs that run parallel to shore and stand above the water’s surface at low tide. The study site, off the Levy County coast, is a chain of oyster reefs punctuated by a few openings that allow seawater to mix with fresh water that the reef holds back as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico from the Suwannee River.

“We’ve known about other ecosystem services that oyster reefs provide, like acting as breakwaters that reduce the impact of wave action on the shore,” Frederick said. “But the role of oyster reefs in modulating the salinity of water near the shore had not been demonstrated before.” (more …)

UF/IFAS researchers seek ways to keep pathogens, pests from traveling with grain

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Finances, Food Safety, IFAS, Pests, Research

Beef cattle grazing in front of a grain silo at the Range Cattle REC in Ona, Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member says new research can help grain handlers and grain inspectors find key locations for pathogens and pests along rail routes in the United States and Australia.

In a new analysis in the journal BioScience, UF/IFAS researchers evaluated how wheat moved along rail networks in the United States and Australia. Through their analysis, researchers identified U.S. states that are particularly important for sampling and managing insect and fungal problems as they move through the networks, said Karen Garrett, a UF/IFAS plant pathology professor and senior author of the study.

“The movement of pests and pathogens can be especially important when there are quarantines against the movement of particular species, or when pesticide-resistant insects invade new areas and make management more difficult,” said Garrett, who began work earlier this year in the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS).

“This innovative research to understand how effectively the world’s food networks function and how they can be improved addresses one of our core missions for ISFS,” said Jim Anderson, professor of food and resource economics at UF/IFAS, director of the ISFS. “This work can have real impact.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers earn $11M in federal grants to study specialty crops

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers will work to improve avocado production, develop turfgrass with improved drought responses and combat a bacterial disease riddling tomatoes, working with $11 million in recently awarded federal grants.

The grants were announced Oct. 5 by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Randy Ploetz, a plant pathology professor at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida, will use $3.4 million to study how to stem the impact of laurel wilt on avocados. Kevin Kenworthy, an associate professor of agronomy, received $4.4 million to study drought resistance in certain turf grasses, and Gary Vallad, an associate professor of plant pathology at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida, will use $3.4 million to improve the management of a bacterial disease that plagues tomato production.

(more …)

New UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station in Cedar Key to expand opportunities

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

cedar key

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Jack Payne, University of Florida senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, has a vision for Florida’s Nature Coast region: to support and expand the world-class research conducted by UF scientists while supporting the communities and helping to conserve the region’s rich resources.

With that in mind, the UF Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences has created the Nature Coast Biological Station, to be housed in Cedar Key. The station is a site to help enhance conservation and improve management of natural resources up and down the Gulf Coast — from Hernando to Wakulla County, Payne said.

“UF/IFAS has had a longtime presence in Cedar Key and has a history of doing important work in these communities,” Payne said. “We helped establish the clam industry, and now, 70 percent of clams sold in the state come from that region.”

(more …)

Sumter County Extension helps implement SNAP/EBT at farmer’s market, spreads the word

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition
Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers' market

Buying and selling at an outdoor farmers’ market

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Making it easier for residents to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and increase Florida farmer’s profits is the win-win result of a partnership between the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Sumter County Office and the Sumter County Farmer’s Market.

The team launched a successful campaign to accept SNAP/EBT, also known as food stamps, which allows SNAP recipients to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the Sumter County Farmer’s Market.

The program has been successful for shoppers and vendors, said Martha Maddox, Sumter County, Family and Consumer Science Agent.  “Residents have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, along with healthier food choices,” she said.  “While at the same time we are promoting buying local produce and increasing the farmers’ revenue.  It’s a great program all the way around for everyone involved.”

(more …)

Everglades REC is unveiling a new and improved soil testing lab

Topic(s): Agriculture, IFAS, RECs

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — For decades, whenever farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area needed help figuring out what fertilizers to use in their fields, they turned to the University of Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center for soil testing and lab work.

The building that houses the EREC’s soil testing laboratory was built at the height of the Vietnam War and originally housed the facility’s library.  More than 15 years ago, it was turned into the lab and, this month, an expansion and improvements are being unveiled.

An open house of the updated facility is scheduled for Thursday, October 22 at 3 p.m. (more …)

Pioneering UF/IFAS cattle scientist recognized at World Dairy Expo

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida emeritus graduate research professor in the Department of Animal Sciences was recognized last week at the 2015 World Dairy Expo for his decades of work in cattle reproduction.

Virtus Nutrition honored several researchers, including William Thatcher, as the company launched the Fatty Acid Forum Legacy Series at the expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Virtus showcased the significance of dairy research and the scientists who pioneered numerous dairy cattle nutrition breakthroughs. Some of the scientists’ findings serve as resources for nutritionists and producers now and for future generations.

Thatcher, an active emeritus UF/IFAS faculty member, is considered one of the world’s leading experts in animal reproduction. He played a key role in establishing links between the intake of fatty acids by dairy cows and their effects on improving reproduction.

(more …)

UF/IFAS helping teachers with creative biology lessons

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Need a creative way to teach students about Florida’s ecosystems?  How about tracking the journey of an invasive plant or putting together a puzzle of freshwater plants?  The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has you covered.

Fun lessons are available through The Florida Invasive Plant Education Initiative, a partnership between the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (more …)

Strategies to keep pollutants out of your neighborhood storm water pond

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Pollution

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many people live in subdivisions with storm water ponds, which collect water from the neighborhood and help keep pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and pet waste from getting into the broader environment. Now, UF/IFAS researchers and Extension faculty have devised strategies to help homeowners limit their pollution contribution.

Before they crafted the strategies, outlined in a new Extension document, “Strategies to Encourage Adoption of Storm Water Pond Best Management Practices (BMPs) by Homeowners,” http://bit.ly/1M6SBrU,

UF/IFAS research and Extension faculty surveyed a large planned community in Manatee County, Florida. Among other things, they found that nearly half the homeowners either didn’t know what storm water runoff was or did not know where storm water runoff goes.

Paul Monaghan, an associate professor of agricultural education and communication and a co-author of the document, said the survey result is fairly typical of homeowners across Florida and elsewhere.

“They see the curb and gutter, and they think the water is going to be treated at a plant,” Monaghan said. “They don’t really know their water runs off into the storm water pond. It’s all accumulating. It matters what you do and what your neighbors do. If we can get homeowners to understand that and know it has an effect, we will be taking a step in the right direction.”

(more …)

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