IFAS News

University of Florida

UF study traces global red imported fire ant invasions to southern U.S.

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, Invasive Species

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Red imported fire ant invasions around the globe in recent years can now be traced to the southern U.S., where the nuisance insect gained a foothold in the 1930s, new University of Florida research has found.

Native to South America, the ant had been contained there and in the southeastern U.S. before turning up in faraway places in the last 20 years — including California, China, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

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Updated UF scientific report explains relationship between turf grass, water quality

Topic(s): Lawn & Garden

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Lawn fertilizer misuse is one of many factors degrading water quality in Florida and summertime fertilizer bans may not be a quick-fix solution, according to an updated report released this week by University of Florida scientists.

Numerous published, peer-reviewed studies confirm that turf grass is healthiest and absorbs the most fertilizer nutrients during the active growing months of summer. Research also shows that nutrient leaching and run-off are greatest during other times of the year.

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$20 million federal grant has hidden benefit for UF-led pine group, two other funded projects

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida formally accepted a $20 million federal grant last week on behalf of a consortium working to improve southern pine management; now it seems there’s a hidden benefit to the grant—the UF-led team can save money and boost the project’s usefulness by collaborating with groups funded to work on corn and wheat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced all three five-year, $20 million grants, known as Coordinated Agriculture Projects, Friday at a press conference in Washington, D.C. The projects will help major crops adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.

At the event, UF representatives met with leaders of the Iowa State University-based corn project and University of Idaho-based wheat project. They agreed to coordinate on matters such as measurement standards, data management protocols and computer software.

By doing this, all three projects can reduce expenses and make it easier for scientists to compare and combine data, said Tim Martin, a professor with UF’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation and principal investigator for the project. Martin accepted the grant and took part in meetings to discuss planted pine, one of the most economically and environmentally important crops in the Southeast.

“I think there will be a great deal of synergy between these projects,” Martin said. “The scientists can work together, for example, by agreeing on the protocols for making standardized measurements, taking soil samples, taking atmospheric samples. When you can coordinate fundamental procedures that way, it’s an enormous scientific opportunity.”

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UF-led consortium garners $20 million grant to improve pine forest management

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Conservation, Crops, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Pollution, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Pine trees are one of the most important crops in the southeastern U.S., and a consortium led by University of Florida personnel has been awarded a five-year, $20 million federal grant to help landowners and foresters throughout the region adapt to and mitigate global climate change in coming decades.

The award was announced Friday, Feb. 18 in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. It was one of three awards funded by the institute as part of a program to encourage agriculture and forestry to increase their capacity to provide what’s called carbon sequestration—the practice of producing and storing durable materials that contain carbon, to slow the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Besides UF, the consortium includes 10 southeastern land-grant universities, eight forestry research cooperatives, the U.S. Forest Service, state climate offices and the multistate Southeast Climate Consortium.

The grant is one of the largest ever associated with UF, said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“This is a tremendous achievement for all of the collaborators, and demonstrates the wisdom of taking a team approach to big challenges,” Payne said. “People throughout the Southeast should be proud that this team has attracted $20 million to improve the planted-pine industry, one of our region’s premier economic engines.”

The grant will fund efforts to develop and transfer better management practices for southern pine, notably loblolly pine, which accounts for 80 percent of planted forest in the Southeast.

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Disease-carrying Asian citrus psyllids find refuge in abandoned groves, UF study shows

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For years, citrus growers have feared that abandoned groves provided refuge for the Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive insect that transmits citrus greening—now, University of Florida researchers say they were right.

A study published in the current issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology shows that the psyllid not only survives in abandoned groves, it often travels to commercially active groves nearby, bringing along the bacterium responsible for the disease.

First detected in Florida in 2005, greening is incurable and fatal to citrus trees. It is considered the biggest threat to the state’s $9 billion citrus industry. Asian citrus psyllids pick up the greening bacterium by feeding on sap from infected trees and later transmit the pathogen while feeding on healthy trees.

The results underscore the need for landowners to remove or destroy unmanaged trees, something the state is urging, said entomologist Lukasz Stelinski, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and one of the study’s authors.

“There was very much anecdotal evidence that these abandoned areas are harboring citrus psyllids,” Stelinski said. “It’s just one of those things that had to be confirmed.”

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Frank Stronach Plant Science Center Announced for UF’s Citra Operation

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, IFAS

Frank Stronach

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida officials announced Wednesday that construction of a much-needed conference center will begin soon at the university’s Plant Science Research and Education Unit (PSREU) in Citra, Fla. thanks to $1.5 million gift from Frank Stronach, founder and Chairman of Magna International Inc.

The 5,380-square-foot multipurpose building will be accompanied by a 7,000-square-foot open pavilion to accommodate year-round educational programs at the site, which is operated by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

In recognition of the gift, the building will be named the Frank Stronach Plant Science Center.

Stronach has been a longtime advocate of the research conducted by the PSREU and wanted to show his support for the successful future of the operation and its educational component.

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