IFAS News

University of Florida

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.

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UF/IFAS Dairy Unit researchers keep cows cool, productive

Topic(s): Agriculture, Departments, IFAS, Livestock, Research
Dairy cows being milked in a milking parlour at the Shenandoah Dairy Farm. Milking, milk production. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – June is National Dairy Month and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Dairy Unit is studying ways to get more milk and cheese to your table. But it’s no easy task to keep cows cool enough to produce in the scorching Florida sun.

That’s where researchers with the UF/IFAS Dairy Unit, in Hague, Florida come in. “It is difficult for a dairy cow in a hot environment to meet her full potential for either milk yield or fertility,” said Geoff Dahl, chair of the UF/IFAS animal sciences department. “The physiological adjustments the cow makes to prevent body temperature from rising during heat stress reduce productivity.”

This is especially true for cows in their dry period—cows in late pregnancy or who are not lactating. “These are times when we don’t milk the cows, because for six to eight weeks they don’t produce milk,” Dahl explained.

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UF/IFAS researchers work to combat pasture weed

Topic(s): Agriculture, IFAS, Livestock, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — According to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers, spiderwort is becoming more common in north Florida, where it has the potential to invade pastures and disrupt hay production.

Professors Jason Ferrell and Brent Sellers, and biological scientist Michael Durham have co-authored a new UF/IFAS Extension document (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag407) explaining how to control the weed.

Notable for its purple flowers, spiderwort is often seen on roadsides and undisturbed areas, said Ferrell. Though this plant has been in Florida for a long time, “it’s now becoming more common to see it in pasture and feedlot areas. People are starting to wonder what it is and what they need to do about it,” he said.

Cattle will not eat spiderwort. When hay is harvested, any spiderwort that gets into the bales will add extra moisture and spoil the hay, Ferrell added.

When people started calling in and asking how to get rid of spiderwort on their properties, Ferrell and Sellers set up an experiment to find out how best to control it.

They found that the most effective chemical treatment controlled spiderwort for four to six weeks, after which the plants reappeared. Though they did not discover a treatment that completely eliminated the weed, they recommend that producers use this four- to six-week period to harvest their hay.

According to Sellers, spiderwort is more of an issue in north Florida and is less common in the south.

The best way to get rid of the plant is to remove it by hand, Ferrell said. However, “that is a very difficult, tedious process,” especially when one stand of spiderwort contains hundreds of plants, he said.

UF/IFAS Agronomy Photo by Michael Durham

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By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Jason Ferrell, 352-392-7512, jferrell@ufl.edu

Brent Sellers, 863-735-1314 ext. 207, sellersb@ufl.edu

As backyard poultry takes off, UF/IFAS Extension teaches residents how to care for their flocks

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Livestock

Chickens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension has become the go-to educational resource for Duval County residents who want to raise chickens in their own backyards.

When Jacksonville passed an ordinance in 2015 allowing hens on residential properties, city officials wanted to make sure that people understood the basics of backyard poultry before they were issued a permit, said UF/IFAS Extension Duval County agent Andy Toelle.

The city approached UF/IFAS Extension Duval County to create an educational program that would prepare prospective chicken owners. Residents must take the UF/IFAS Extension Duval County Backyard Poultry Seminar to get the certificate needed for the permit.

Toelle, UF/IFAS Extension Duval County agent Terra Freeman and UF/IFAS Extension Baker County director and poultry expert Mike Davis lead the seminar. They take pride in being the principal source of poultry education in the area. “We get calls every day about this program,” Freeman said.

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UF/IFAS program helps small cow-calf producers get ahead

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, Livestock, RECs, Research

Two cows wait for food at at the Beef Teaching Unit.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is showing small cow-calf producers how using the latest reproductive research leads to larger profits.

The UF/IFAS Florida Heifer Development Program was developed by Kalyn Waters, UF/IFAS Extension Holmes County director, and Cliff Lamb, professor of animal sciences and assistant director of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center, Marianna.

Both Lamb and Waters saw a need for a program to help ranchers improve the productivity of their herds.

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$2.6M legislative allotment lets UF/IFAS complete Beef Teaching Unit expansion

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Extension, IFAS, Livestock, Research

A sandhill crane in a cattle pasture at the UF's Beef Teaching Unit

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students in the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences animal sciences department will benefit from a top-notch cattle-teaching facility in Gainesville, thanks to a $2.6 million legislative allotment this year.

That’s one of many advantages of the $3.6 million expansion to the UF/IFAS Beef Teaching Unit. The facility will house 5,000 square feet of multipurpose enclosed space and another 15,000 square feet for cattle pens and working area. The Legislature allotted $1 million toward the Beef Teaching Unit in its 2015 session. Phase 1 of the expansion is expected to be complete by August or September, while Phase 2 should be done in 2017, said Geoff Dahl, chair of the UF/IFAS animal sciences department.

Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, lauded the expanded Beef Teaching Unit.

“With the expansion of the UF/IFAS Beef Teaching Unit, our students, faculty and staff can learn, teach and conduct cattle research and Extension programs that are second-to-none in the nation,” Payne said. “We thank the Legislature for its allocation.”

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UF/IFAS to host 65th Annual Florida Beef Cattle Short Course on May 4-6

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, IFAS, Livestock

Who:    The University of Florida IFAS department of animal sciences will host the 65th Annual Florida Beef Cattle Short Course.

What:    Both small and large beef producers are invited to hear experts discuss hot topics and current research related to the beef industry. Presentations will include “Modern Ag in a Facebook Culture,” “Understanding the Use of GMOs in Agriculture” and “Beef Cattle Improvement in the Genomics Era.” Hands-on demonstrations will cover animal production, disease monitoring, and feed evaluation. Participants will have the opportunity to meet others in the industry during the trade show and catered dinner.

When:   1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m, Wednesday, May 4

8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, May 5

8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Friday, May 6

Where:   Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center

2142 Shealy Drive

Gainesville, FL 32611

For more information, visit http://animal.ifas.ufl.edu/beef_extension/bcsc/2016/short.shtml

To register, go to http://bit.ly/1plNY4k

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By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Matthew Hersom, (352) 392-2390, hersom@ufl.edu

 

Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame adds 4 new inductees on Feb. 9

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame is honoring four new inductees in Tampa on Feb. 9 who have ties to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame honors men and women who have made lasting contributions to agriculture in this state and to the mentoring of youth, who represent the future of agriculture in Florida. All four inductees have played major and vital roles in mentoring young people through Extension, 4-H, at UF or on their ranch. The 2016 Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees are: (more …)

UF Cattlewomen take 2nd place in online scholarship program

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Extension, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Livestock

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen took second place in the recent College Aggies Online scholarship competition that recognizes outstanding use of social media and community involvement to promote agriculture.

Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen is a group of 51 students in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. For their honor, the UF group won $2,500.

The awards, announced Dec. 2, culminated the nationwide initiative that helps college students share agriculture’s story.

“After nine long weeks of advocating, and help from all the club members, we were thrilled to find out that all of our hard work paid off,” said Samantha Dailey, vice president of the UF Cattlewomen. “The $2,500 will allow our club to take advantage of more educational opportunities and help our members to become leaders in the beef industry.”

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UF/IFAS study: Feral swine can cost at least $2 million annually in cattle production

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, IFAS, Livestock, Research

Piglet.

See caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Feral swine cost the Florida cattle industry at least $2 million a year in lost cattle production, according to a new study led by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher.

In fact, researchers believe they may have underestimated the amount of forage destroyed by feral swine, said Samantha Wisely, a UF/IFAS associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation. Furthermore, researchers kept their cost estimates to lost forage and did not include the cost of restoring range, controlling invasive weeds that feral swine spread and other costs.

“We suspect that the cost is nearly an order of magnitude higher, and our next project will document that more precisely,” Wisely said. Nationwide, feral swine damage and control costs more than $1.5 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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