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UF/IFAS process can convert human-generated waste into fuel in space

Topic(s): Biofuels, Environment, New Technology, Research

Pratap Pullammanappallil poses in his lab next to an anaerobic digester, which turns human waste into rocket fuel on October, 24, 2014.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Human waste may have a new use: sending NASA spacecraft from the moon back to Earth.

Until now, the waste has been collected to burn up on re-entry. What’s more, like so many other things developed for the space program, the process could well turn up on Earth, said Pratap Pullammanappallil, a University of Florida associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

“It could be used on campus or around town, or anywhere, to convert waste into fuel,” Pullammanappallil said.

In 2006, NASA began making plans to build an inhabited facility on the moon’s surface between 2019 and 2024. As part of NASA’s moon-base goal, the agency wanted to reduce the weight of spacecraft retuning to Earth. Historically, waste generated during spaceflight would not be used further. NASA stores it in containers until it’s loaded into space cargo vehicles that burn as they pass back through the Earth’s atmosphere. For future long-term missions, though, it would be impractical to bring all the stored waste back to Earth.

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Range Cattle Research and Education Center dedicates new education building

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, IFAS, Livestock, RECs

Ona education building opening 112014 (4)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Cattlemen, Extension agents and other stakeholders soon can attend educational events at a new University of Florida facility dedicated to teaching how to manage the state’s grazing lands.

Officials dedicated and opened the Grazinglands Education Building Nov. 20 at UF’s Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona. At the same time, they recognized major donors and highlighted their “Campaign for Ona.”

About 6 million acres in Florida are used for grazing, said Range Cattle REC Director John Arthington.

The Grazinglands Education Building was made possible by more than $380,000 in private donations, state and federal money, Arthington said. The initial gift, a $150,000 grant awarded by the Mosaic Company Foundation, started the building’s construction. Most of the remaining funds came from the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation, said Arthington, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.

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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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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 …)

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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UF part of a five-year, $10 million grant to grow better fruit crops

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, IFAS
Strawberries will be a part of a five-year, $10 million grant to grow better fruit crops

Strawberries will be a part of a five-year, $10 million grant to grow better fruit crops

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The United State Department of Agriculture awarded a team of scientists from 14 universities, including the University of Florida, the first of a $10-million, five-year grant to improve half a dozen fruit crops.

The award is from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative and involves two projects. (more …)

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