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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found, for the first time, that crop models predicting yields for one of the world’s most important crops begin to disagree under climate change scenarios.
By knowing where those models break down, researchers will be better able to improve them. The computerized models predict crop yields for wheat, one of the world’s most-consumed foods.
Scientists use crop models to foresee which parts of the world may face the greatest food shortages, so that efforts to improve food production can be directed to those places.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One of the world’s fastest growing agricultural industries, goat farming, is plagued by deadly intestinal parasites, particularly the barber’s pole worm – a pest that poses great danger to the goat-farming industry in the Southeastern U.S. and other parts of the world.
Improper use of commercial medicines has helped make the parasites resistant to many deworming drugs.
But recent research by the University of Florida’s Animal Sciences department may be closing in on a solution. Although researchers say it needs more study, they’ve recently found papaya seeds to be an inexpensive, alternative method for ridding goats of their parasitic passengers.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The plant hormones called auxins are well-known for stimulating development of roots and other structures, and now University of Florida scientists have shown that auxins help plants cope with environmental stresses.
The findings could lead to crop varieties that better tolerate heat and salinity, said author Bala Rathinasabapathi, a professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Our findings show there’s a possibility of manipulating plant stress tolerance with auxins,” Rathinasabapathi said. It may be possible to administer auxins to crops at critical stages of growth, he said, or possibly engineer new varieties that respond to auxins more efficiently.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — There is no evidence that pollutants from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill contributed to the “unprecedented” decline in recent Apalachicola Bay oyster populations, according to a report this week by the University of Florida.
Instead, the report by UF’s Oyster Recovery Team cites drought, insufficient rainfall and increased salinity in the bay as factors contributing to the dramatic drop-off in oyster landings beginning in September 2012 and continuing through the year, said Karl Havens, task force leader and director of Florida Sea Grant.
“There was a whole chain of circumstances that led to this situation, some of which are beyond human control,” Havens said. “Our report makes recommendations for many things that can be done to help the oyster population through management and restoration.”
Havens and other recovery team members discussed the report and findings with a crowd of about 60 residents and seafood workers Wednesday at the Apalachicola Community Center.
The full report and a summary are available at the UF/IFAS Franklin County Extension office or its website, http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu.
Pigweed, pictured here, poses one of Florida’s biggest weed-management challenges. UF/IFAS photo by Thomas Wright
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Integrated weed management, or IWM, is a management option for crop producers who want to fight weeds using every available technology; it involves three activities – scouting, prevention and control – coordinated to discourage weeds from growing in the first place.
Producers have been slow to adopt IWM, but a team of scientists with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say it can be a sustainable, affordable choice.
In fact, the team publishes so much research on the subject that they earned UF several top five results in a recent study that assessed the productivity of weed science teams worldwide.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new era began for the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation April 6 as ground was broken for the Austin Cary Forest Learning Center, a 7,800-square-foot education and outreach complex in the heart of the UF-owned forest northeast of Gainesville.
The learning center will succeed and surpass the Austin Cary Forest Conference Center, destroyed by fire in July 2011. Fundraising and recovery efforts began immediately after the fire, and at the groundbreaking event, UF Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Jack Payne expressed awe at their rapid progress.
“I never thought we’d be here two years later,” said Payne, who noted the importance of forest products to the state’s economy — $15 billion and 90,000 jobs. Speaking to a crowd of about 400 supporters, he discussed the Austin Cary Forest’s role as an essential link between natural resources and agriculture, and the role that pine trees may play in providing more of the world’s biofuel and fiber needs.
Construction for the learning center is slated to begin immediately and should be completed in less than one year, SFRC Director Tim White told attendees. The learning center will greatly enhance the school’s ability to provide distance education from Austin Cary Forest and accommodate large in-person events there, he said.
“This is a community resource, not an SFRC resource,” White said. “Tell people we want it to be used.”
UF/IFAS file photo of Austin Cary Forest palmetto and pine, by Dawn McKinstry
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This spring, the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation has two reasons to celebrate:
One is the annual SFRC Spring Celebration on April 5-6. Here, alumni and friends of the School reconnect, recreate and learn about SFRC’s latest achievements.
The other reason: This year’s celebration includes a special milestone — groundbreaking for the new Austin Cary Forest Learning Center at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 6.
Dignitaries speaking at the groundbreaking include UF President Bernie Machen and UF Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Jack Payne.
“This groundbreaking marks a huge step forward for the School of Forest Resources and Conservation,” Payne said. “Thousands will benefit from activities on-site at the new Learning Center, and many programs taught here will be offered via distance education to audiences statewide and beyond.”
The 7,800 square-foot building will facilitate education and outreach events at Austin Cary Forest. It’s larger and better-equipped than the conference center it replaces, said Tim White, director of the School. That facility fell victim to a fire in July 2011.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Crops aren’t just for food, fiber and fuel. Researchers at the University of Florida are making new industrial applications possible for them as well.
They’ve developed a method to turn sugarcane bagasse — the crushed-stalk waste product of sugar production — into succinic acid that can be used to make pharmaceuticals, protective coatings and compostable bags.
Baskets of okra offered for sale at a farmers’ market. UF/IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians are buying more food grown locally or regionally and retail sales are higher here than in other states, according to a University of Florida study.
It showed local food represents about 20 percent of all Florida food purchased for at-home consumption, except restaurant take-out food, said Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The study was based on a statewide consumer survey. Prior estimates from other states had local food accounting for about 5 percent of all food sales, he said.
“We are doing relatively better in Florida, in moving toward food self-sufficiency,” Hodges said. “I can only attribute that to the favorable year-round growing conditions we have for fruits and vegetables.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida will host a climate symposium April 2-3 that will feature leading authorities on food, sustainability and climate change.
Registration has closed for the event, but members of the media are welcome to attend. It is being held at the Reitz Student Union on campus. The last two sessions on April 3, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., are open to anyone, regardless of registration. For more information, please see agenda here: http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/landgrant/agenda.pdf.
Called Sustaining Economics and Natural Resources in a Changing World: Key Role of Land-Grant Universities, the symposium will address the impact land-grant institutions and their research have had on food security and agricultural production; infrastructure and transportation; energy; sustainable development and resource policies.