IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS expert has five tips to reduce mosquitoes around your home

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs

A water-filled tank of a bromeliad, in which mosquito immatures stages, including A. albopictus, occur. Photo by Dr. Phil Lounibos.

Please see caption below the story.

AUGUSTINE, Fla. — During Florida’s wet summers, your backyard or patio area can easily become a breeding area for container mosquitoes, said Jim DeValerio, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension horticulture agent. Though there are no reports that mosquitoes are transmitting the Zika virus in Florida, residents should still take measures to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding in their home landscapes, he said.

Here are DeValerio’s five tips homeowners can use to reduce mosquitoes on their properties.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers try to cut costs to control aquatic invasive plants in Florida

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Biocontrols, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species

Aquatic invasives plants 062816

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Of all the invasive plants in Florida’s waterways, hydrilla costs the most to contain — $66 million over a seven-year period, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

But UF/IFAS researchers are finding new ways to use less chemical treatment, and thus less money, to manage hydrilla.

From 2008 to 2015, state and federal water resource managers spent about $125 million to control invasive aquatic plants, according to an April Extension document co-written by Lyn Gettys, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agronomy and aquatic weed specialist. You can find the document here: http://bit.ly/28UsGoh.

Of that $125 million, about $66 million goes to control hydrilla, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

(more …)

UF/IFAS expert has five tips for keeping your beach clean this summer

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Pollution

Beach signage in Florida. Ocean, warning, protected, environmental.

Please see caption below story.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Maia McGuire was leading middle-schoolers on a local beach clean-up when she noticed a cluster of deflated balloons on the sand. It’s not unusual to find balloons on the beach, McGuire said, but these were different: Each balloon was printed with the name of a nursing home in Texas.

“Those balloons were probably the weirdest thing I’ve found on one of our beaches,” McGuire said. However, this discovery made it clear that, while beach clean-ups are often done by locals, keeping beaches clean is everyone’s responsibility, she said. That’s because, in the environment, trash travels, and one person’s trash can easily become another person’s clean-up hundreds of miles away.

McGuire works in St. Johns and Flagler counties as a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Sea Grant agent. Part of her job is to help the community keep its beaches and oceans clean. You can do your part this summer by following these five tips.

(more …)

UF/IFAS Extension Zika Challenge empowers faculty, public to take up the fight against mosquitoes

Topic(s): Extension, IFAS

A albopictus. Asian Tiger Mosquito. Photo: James Newman

Please see caption at the end of the story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jim Davis is studying hard for his public health pest control license exam. In the past, getting this license wouldn’t be a usual part of his job. But with the recent public concern about the mosquito-borne Zika virus, expertise in mosquito control could soon be the norm for many University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension faculty like Davis.

Davis and several others have already signed up for the UF/IFAS Extension Zika Challenge, a new program that helps Extension faculty become public health pest control license (PHPC) holders. Faculty will use this training and other outreach strategies to educate their communities about mosquito control.

Ken Gioeli, a UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County agent, wondered if other Extension agents would benefit from this training after he got his own PHPC license. The Zika Challenge grew out of discussions Gioeli had with Anita Neal, director for UF/IFAS Extension’s south district, and Roxanne Connelly, a professor and Extension specialist at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida. Gioeli and Connelly designed the program.

(more …)

Michael Dukes receives John Deere Gold Medal award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research, Soil and Water Science

Michael Dukes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Michael Dukes, director of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been honored with the 2016 John Deere Gold Medal award. Dukes is nationally recognized as an expert in irrigation and water conservation.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers gives the award to recognize distinguished achievement in the application of science and art to the soil.

“It is a great honor to be selected by my peers for this prestigious award,” Dukes said. “I look forward to continuing my work in helping create sustainable landscape practices that will impact not only Florida, but the world.”

As a professor and UF/IFAS Extension irrigation specialist, Dukes conducts research on water conservation and efficient irrigation with a focus on landscape irrigation. His research is used to inform irrigation professionals, decision makers and other stakeholders on how to implement changes and manage landscape irrigation systems to maximize efficiency while maintaining aesthetically pleasing landscapes. His work is invaluable, said Wendy Graham, director of the UF Water Institute.

(more …)

UF/IFAS, Pinellas Sheriff’s office create urban farms in Pinellas County

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

Loften Center students learning about gardening and nutrition on Thursday, May 21st, 2015.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Residents in a county on Florida’s Gulf Coast are getting the help they need to access healthier foods via a collaboration between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Pinellas Sheriff’s Police Athletic League. The two entities have teamed up to create an urban farm in Pinellas County.

Urban farms promote an abundance of food for people in need while raising awareness of health and wellness. “It is an opportunity to teach families and children the values of nutrition and establish a level of commerce for produce distribution,” said Mark Trujillo, a public health regional specialist for UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program.

Trujillo introduced the executive director of the Pinellas Sheriff’s PAL, Neil Brickfield, to an empty U-Pick farm in Lealman, Florida, Pinellas County. After discovering the potential that the farm had to help the county, Brickfield then began to work with UF/IFAS to identify the needs of the farm and community.

Because Lealman, Florida is considered a food desert, the idea of an urban farm was essential for the area, Trujillo said. According to Brickfield, the citizens in Lealman are more than a mile from a local grocery store. “So, the urban farm is an opportunity for people to have fresh produce readily available,” Brickfield said.

(more …)

UF survey shows most Floridians want to know more about genetically modified foods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Nutrition, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While almost half of Floridians acknowledge buying genetically modified foods, a recent survey by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida reveals that most people want to know much more about those foods.

“The study shows that Floridians believe they don’t know much about genetically modified foods and their benefits,” said Joy Rumble, assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Many people are favorable to supporting research, and they think it’s essential that government support it. Floridians see a place for GM foods, but they do have hesitations.”

The PIE Center surveyed 500 Floridians on their perceptions of genetically modified foods. Respondents were largely unsure about the potential benefits of genetically modified food, with more than 40 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing that food technology such as GMOs allows people to live longer or better lives.

(more …)

In UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H, leadership starts at a young age

Topic(s): 4-H

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nine-year-old Rose Ducanis did not want to go to her first 4-H club meeting. “My mom pretty much had to drag me there,” Ducanis said. “I didn’t want to go because I just had no idea what to expect.” However, during that first meeting, she realized that UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H wasn’t just a bunch of kids listening to adults and eating snacks — it was a chance for her to find her voice as a leader.

“As I got more involved in 4-H, I realized that I had good things to say and that people would actually listen to them. You don’t often get that opportunity as a kid,” Ducanis said. Though Ducanis grew up in Davie, Florida, a suburban community, she liked how 4-H’s focus on leadership could apply to youth from any community.

Now, after nearly a decade as a 4-H member, Ducanis is the 2015–2016 Florida 4-H state council president. She has also been chosen as governor for this year’s 4-H Legislature, the main civic education event for Florida 4-H members between the ages of 13 and 18. From June 27 to July 1, youth from around the state will be at the Florida State Capitol, where they will learn to play the part of lawmakers, lobbyists and media correspondents in a mock legislative setting.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers to study how to reduce carbon dioxide in ranch soil

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Green Living, IFAS, Livestock, Research, Soil and Water Science

A herd of beef cattle on a Florida ranch, trees, cows, grass. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers hope to reduce possible pollutants emanating from soils in Florida cattle ranches by using a $710,000 federal grant to study soil microbes.

In the new study, UF/IFAS researchers will use lab and field studies to investigate how pasture management and factors such as temperature and rainfall affect soil microbes. They’ll also look for genetic markers to get a glimpse into microbial identity. Genetic markers are genes or short sequences of DNA scientists use to find other genes on a genetic map.

“The goal is to put together a model that can predict the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from soils under a climate that is expected to be warmer and experience more extreme dry and wet periods across the Southeast,” said Stefan Gerber, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in soil and water sciences and one of the investigators on the new study.

(more …)

Science teachers to explore what makes plants sick, healthy at UF/IFAS workshops

Topic(s): Agriculture, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The work of a plant pathologist, or plant doctor, is much like that of a regular doctor—you have sick patients who need treatment, said Monica Elliott, professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, who has organized a free plant pathology workshop for middle and high school teachers.

However, there is one crucial difference between curing plants and curing people that should put the more squeamish of the attendees at ease, Elliott said. “There’s no blood!”

Over the next few weeks, educators will spend the day at one of several UF/IFAS Research and Education Centers across the state learning the basics of plant pathology and the role it plays in growing healthy crops. The workshops are designed to give teachers material they can bring back to their classrooms.

(more …)

Back to Top