University of Florida

New method may help detect avocado pathogen earlier

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


In this photo released by the University of FloridaÕs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, agricultural economist Edward ÒGillyÓ Evans, left, and tropical fruit expert Jonathan Crane examine avocados in a research grove at UFÕs Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead Ð Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. The pair helped write a paper on the potential economic impact of laurel wilt, a disease threatening FloridaÕs avocado crop. If the disease reaches Miami-Dade County, it could destroy half the crop and cost the state $27 million. (AP photo/University of Florida/IFAS/Thomas Wright)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found an algorithm to help them detect laurel wilt, the deadly pathogen that threatens Florida’s $100 million-a-year avocado industry.

Reza Ehsani, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said the algorithm finds laurel wilt-infected avocado trees before symptoms are visible to the naked eye. About 500 growers produce Florida’s avocado crop annually, and more than 98 percent of the fruit is grown in Miami-Dade County. UF scientists estimate laurel wilt could severely reduce the commercial avocado industry if they don’t find control strategies for the pathogen and ambrosia beetles.

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Saving green: UF/IFAS computer program saves nurseries water, plants and money

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Research


Poinsettia. Rapid urban growth in Florida and the Southeast creates a huge demand for a wide range of container-grown ornamental plants and trees for residential and commericial landscapes.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A web-based irrigation system developed by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences saved 21 percent in water use without reducing growth of container-grown landscape plants, a new study shows.

While UF/IFAS scientists say a Virginia nursery is the only one utilizing the system so far, they hope similar businesses take advantage of the software, so they can reap its benefits in saved water and money. For now, scientists are interested in the irrigation needs of container-grown plants such as anise, gardenias, azaleas, junipers, roses and more.

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Two UF/IFAS doctoral grads start genetics company

Topic(s): Announcements, Environment, Forestry, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, New Technology, Research

RAPiD Genomics 101615 - Leandro Neves

Leandro Neves

RAPiD Genomics 101615 Marcio Resende

Marcio Resende

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two former doctoral students from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are running a genetics startup company in Gainesville and recently were recognized by Gov. Rick Scott as “Young Entrepreneurs.”

Marcio Resende said he came up with the idea for RAPiD Genomics while in Brazil due to a demand from a forestry company that needed someone to do some genotyping for them. Several factors, including costs, kept him from pursuing the notion.

But when he came to the United States to pursue his doctorate, he started talking to Leandro Gomide Neves, a fellow doctoral student, and Matias Kirst, a professor of forest genomics at UF/IFAS. They decided to open RAPiD Genomics. At the same time, they teamed up with some colleagues to invent a genotyping method, which gave them extra motivation to pursue the idea of opening a business.

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UF/IFAS-developed app saves significant water and money

Topic(s): Conservation, Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, RECs, Research, Weather

In this photo released from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, extension agent Janet Bargar checks the water flow and direction of a pop-up irrigation system at a home in Vero Beach – Friday, May 25, 2007. Bargar, a water quality expert, suggests residents check with their county extension office about local watering restrictions. She says the ideal time to water is before sunrise and that residents should check irrigation systems regularly to be sure they’re working properly and not watering the sidewalk.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An app developed by scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences may save homeowners about 30 percent on water usage, which translates into lower utility bills, new research shows.

Kati Migliaccio, the lead designer of the irrigation app, led a study at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. Through their research, scientists found the app saved 42 percent to 57 percent of the water used with time-scheduled irrigation.

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UF study shows restored oyster reefs beneficial beyond the dinner plate – shellfish help create and protect habitats critical to wildlife and human communities

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Conservation, Environment, New Technology, Pollution
Researchers working on an oyster bar survey off of the coast of Cedar Key, Florida.  Airboat, storm clouds, coast.

Researchers working on an oyster bar survey off of the coast of Cedar Key, Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Oysters thrive under brackish conditions, and now a University of Florida study reveals that the bivalves can actually help create the mix of fresh water and brine they crave.

While evaluating a new method of restoring degraded oyster reefs, researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF’s College of Engineering confirmed an observation that Cedar Key-area oystermen have made for years – some oyster reefs act as natural dams, impounding fresh water that flows seaward from nearby creeks and rivers.

The result: large areas of reduced-salinity water that help maintain near-shore estuarine habitats supporting oysters, sea grasses, juvenile game fish and invertebrates important to the marine food chain as well as seafood production and recreational opportunities for people.

This finding, published in a report available at http://www.projects.tnc.org/coastal, could aid ecological and fishery restoration projects along Florida’s Big Bend Coast, a largely undeveloped area bordering the Gulf of Mexico between Wakulla and Pasco counties, said project leader Peter Frederick, a professor with UF/IFAS’ Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.

The Big Bend Coast is one of the nation’s few coastal areas featuring numerous oyster reefs that run parallel to shore and stand above the water’s surface at low tide. The study site, off the Levy County coast, is a chain of oyster reefs punctuated by a few openings that allow seawater to mix with fresh water that the reef holds back as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico from the Suwannee River.

“We’ve known about other ecosystem services that oyster reefs provide, like acting as breakwaters that reduce the impact of wave action on the shore,” Frederick said. “But the role of oyster reefs in modulating the salinity of water near the shore had not been demonstrated before.” (more …)

UF/IFAS termite pioneer to be inducted into inventors hall of fame

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Household Pests, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs

TERMITES2 Nan-Yao Su 022415

Nan-Yao Su

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nan-Yao Su, the University of Florida scientist who invented the Sentricon® system for termite colony elimination, is scheduled to be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Oct. 2 in Tampa.

Sentricon®, the first commercial baiting product for subterranean termites, has protected millions of structures, including the White House and the Statue of Liberty.

The Hall of Fame selection committee chose nominees whose inventions and achievements have “advanced the quality of life for Floridians, our state and our nation,” according to a letter to Su from hall of fame Program Manager William Nikolic.

Su said he feels honored to be mentioned alongside such great inventors as Thomas Edison and UF’s own Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade®.

“I am glad that I can contribute to the quality of life of many homeowners in Florida and worldwide,” Su said.

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Microscopic molecules can fight citrus greening bug with less insecticides

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Research
A scanning electron microscope photo of polymer molecules impregnated with imidacloprid, a common insecticide used to kill ther Asian citrus psyllid. Photo by Lukasz Stelinski, UF/IFAS

See photo caption below

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida and several other institutions have found a way in laboratory tests to use 200 times less insecticide and yet still kill as many insects that carry the devastating citrus greening bacterium.

It is a step forward in ridding groves of the insect that is threatening to destroy Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry. (more …)

UF/IFAS scientist to spread knowledge at World Avocado Congress

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Crops, Economics, Environment, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs, Research

Jonathan Crane, professor of horticultural sciences, inspecting an avocado tree at the Tropical Research and Education Center.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the laurel wilt pathogen threatening the Florida avocado industry, a UF/IFAS tropical fruit scientist will lend his expertise at the World Avocado Congress in September in Lima, Peru.

Jonathan Crane, professor in horticultural sciences, will give an opening presentation titled: “The Potential for Laurel Wilt to Threaten Avocado Production is Real” at the meeting, Sept. 13-18. With this talk, Crane will provide evidence that laurel wilt will spread throughout North America and will pose a threat to native trees and to commercial avocado production.

Later, Crane will present a paper titled: “Current status and control recommendations for laurel wilt and the ambrosia beetle vectors in commercial avocado orchards in South Florida.” Crane co-authored the paper with Daniel Carrillo, assistant professor in entomology; Randy Ploetz, professor in plant pathology; Edward Evans, associate professor in food and resource economics and Aaron Palmateer, associate professor in plant pathology – all of whom work at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead. The final co-author is Don Pybas, director of the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee.

Several ambrosia beetle species transmit the laurel wilt pathogen to avocado trees, killing most of them, threatening an industry with a $100 million-a-year economic impact on Florida. The original ambrosia beetle vector of laurel wilt was discovered in the U.S. in Georgia in 2002 and since that time has spread to seven additional states. Laurel wilt has begun to slightly affect commercial avocado production in Florida.

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UF researchers develop machine to count dropped citrus, identify problem areas in groves

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, New Technology, RECs

Orange grove at the University of Florida. Keywords: citrus, horticulture, fruit, tree  (UF/IFAS photo by Tara Piasio)

As citrus greening continues to impact Florida’s groves, growers have found that they need a way to quickly and accurately count the amount of fruit dropped early to help identify problem areas, which will save time and money.

University of Florida researchers Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee, Daeun “Dana” Choi, Reza Ehsani and Fritz Roka devised a “machine vision system” to count citrus fruit that has dropped early. The device is suitable for various conditions in citrus groves, including addressing problems of variable lighting, giving accurate estimates of dropped fruit counts and providing exact locations of trees with greater fruit drop, indicating a problem area. (more …)

UF/IFAS apps give irrigation, growing tips and more

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Weather


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Looking to save money and water when you irrigate? UF/IFAS scientists have developed an app for that. Want to know what plants to grow in your garden? You guessed it: UF/IFAS has an app for that as well.

UF/IFAS’ so-called “smart irrigation apps” include an urban lawn app that estimates how long you’ll need to water your lawn to meet current plant water demand. It uses a simplified approach for automated irrigation systems. This urban lawn model uses meteorological data to compute a simple, real-time weekly water balance, said Kati Migliaccio, UF/IFAS associate professor in agricultural and biological engineering and lead designer of the app. Find these apps and others at Smartirrigationapps.org.

“The turf app provides a free resource to determine a schedule to apply the right amount of water to landscapes, which is personalized based on user inputs,” Migliaccio said.

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