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UF study: Florida’s agricultural and natural resources industries remain strong since recession

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Forestry, IFAS, Livestock

ag and natural resources

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and related food industries provided a $104 billion impact on the state in 2011 and have continued to improve since the 2008 recession, according to a new University of Florida study.

The study is the latest report from researchers in UF’s food and resource economics department — part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences — on the industries’ economic contributions. It can be viewed here: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FE/FE93500.pdf.

The industries include crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries production; agricultural product and service providers; food product manufacturing; forest product manufacturing; food distribution; mining and nature-based recreation.

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UF/IFAS expands Bee College to South Florida, including courses in Spanish

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Vegetables

South Florida Bee College

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida will host the first Bee College for South Florida this summer in Fort Lauderdale.

The event is coming to South Florida to meet demand there and will also feature courses taught in Spanish. Event registration is here: http://southfloridabeecollege.eventbrite.com/.

The two-day college will be held Aug. 16-17 at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Davie, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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UF researchers find wheat production models disagree under climate change scenarios

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

Senthold Asseng

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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.

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Auxins could help crops beat heat and high salinity, UF study suggests

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Auxin

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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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Study: UF/IFAS weed science program ranks high for research publishing

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Invasive Species, New Technology, Research

 Pigweed

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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UF breaks ground for new 7,800-square-foot Austin Cary Forest Learning Center

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Conservation, Crops, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Green Living, IFAS

AC Learning Center small

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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.”

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UF School of Forest Resources and Conservation sets Spring Celebration for April 5-6

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Biofuels, CALS, Conservation, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Forestry, IFAS, Invasive Species, New Technology, Research

Austin Cary Memorial Forest. UF/IFAS Photo by Dawn McKinstry.

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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UF researchers improve process to create renewable chemicals from plants

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, Crops, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Xuan Wang and Lonnie Ingram

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Related video.

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.

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Local food makes up 20 percent of Florida’s eat-at-home market, UF study shows

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

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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.”

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To help homeowners, industry personnel, UF/IFAS posts videos on turfgrass research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Cultivars, Environment, Green Living, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

Turf

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently completed the state’s largest-ever study of landscape turfgrass and fertilizer use, and new online videos will help homeowners and lawn-care professionals understand the findings.

The eight-year, $4.2 million study was funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to determine the effectiveness of current UF/IFAS fertilizer recommendations, which have been in use since about 2000, said John Hayes, UF/IFAS dean for research. Florida has more than 5 million acres of home and commercial turf.

“This work is an important body of information generated here to address important questions about nutrient management,” Hayes said. “We’re proud to communicate our findings and we hope they will play a substantial role in helping residents, industry personnel and policymakers protect water quality.”

Three hours of technical presentations from a Jan. 15 live symposium are available at http://tinyurl.com/be2la7q and a three-minute video aimed at educating the public has been posted at http://tinyurl.com/ajy4ytr.

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