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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS researchers build searchable database of non-native plants

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Uncategorized
The air potato vine is an  invasive species prohibited by the state

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ever wonder what that plant is in your yard that seems to be taking over? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a new website designed to help you figure it out.

Researchers with UF/IFAS’ Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants spent more than a year developing a searchable website and database to help Floridians assess problem— or just plain puzzling —non-native plants. (more …)

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.

(more …)

UF-led consortium wins prestigious national award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Environment, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, New Technology, Research
Clyde Fraisse (blue shirt)  led a consortium of researchers to win a prestigious U.S. award.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A consortium of scientists and researchers, led by the University of Florida, has received the prestigious National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts.

The Southeast Climate Extension project is comprised of 19 researchers from half a dozen universities. They engage agricultural producers and help them implement management strategies to protect crops from weather extremes. In addition, they conduct research aimed at reducing climate and weather risks in agriculture and natural resources in Florida, and cooperate with similar programs through the Southeast Climate Consortium. (more …)

UF/IFAS-created strawberry monitoring system set to expand

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Honors and Appointments, New Technology, Pests

Natalia Peres strawberries resized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A strawberry monitoring web system that will soon expand to South Carolina is one of many reasons a University of Florida faculty member has won the Lee M. Hutchins Award from the American Phytopathological Society (APS).

The Hutchins award goes to the author or authors of significant published research on basic or applied aspects of diseases of perennial fruit plants, according to the society’s website.

“APS is probably the most prestigious society worldwide in our field of plant pathology, so I am very honored with the nomination and the award,” said Natalia Peres, an associate professor of plant pathology at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm.

(more …)

UF/IFAS’ Kevin Folta to advise Pennsylvania lawmakers on GMO topic

Topic(s): Announcements, Honors and Appointments, New Technology, Uncategorized

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UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences chairman Kevin Folta will advise the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Monday, Oct. 6 on the use of transgenic crops, or GMOs.

The committee will have an informational meeting at 9 a.m. with nationally recognized scientists offering presentations about GMO foods. The legislators are gathering information in advance of debate over a bill that would require labeling of genetically engineered food.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researcher continues quest for peanut that won’t cause allergic reaction

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Research

Wade Yang, an assistant professor in UF?s food science and human nutrition department, left, and graduate student Sandra Shriver, use pulsed ultraviolet light to reduce allergens in peanuts in Yang's laboratory in Gainesville, Fla., on April 15, 2011. The technique has been shown to significantly reduce the allergenic potential of peanuts by up to 90 percent. IFAS photo by Tyler L. Jones

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida scientist has moved one step closer to his goal of eliminating 99.9 percent of peanut allergens by removing 80 percent of them in whole peanuts.

Scientists must eliminate peanut allergens below a certain threshold for patients to be safe, said Wade Yang, an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and member of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

If Yang can cut the allergens from 150 milligrams of protein per peanut to below 1.5 milligrams, 95 percent of those with peanut allergies would be safe. It’s challenging to eliminate all peanut allergens, he said, because doing so may risk destroying peanuts’ texture, color, flavor and nutrition. But he said he’s using novel methods like pulsed light to reach an allergen level that will protect most people.

Yang, whose study is published online in this month’s issue of the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology, cautioned that he has done peanut allergen experiments only in a laboratory setting so far. He hopes to eventually conduct clinical trials on animals and humans.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researchers use steam to treat citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, Research

UF/IFAS researchers are using steam to treat citrus greening.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers are turning to the old-fashioned method of steaming to help treat citrus greening, a disease devastating citrus trees throughout Florida.

Reza Ehsani and his UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences colleagues are tenting and then enveloping trees in steam that is 136 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 seconds in an attempt to kill the citrus greening bacterium. (more …)

UF/IFAS study: Strawberry monitoring system could add $1.7 million over 10 years to some farms

Topic(s): Crops, Economics, New Technology, Research

Natalia Peres strawberries

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida-developed web tool can bring growers $1.7 million more in net profits over 10 years than a calendar-based fungicide system because it guides growers to spray their crop at optimal times, a new UF study shows.

The Strawberry Advisory System, devised by an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher, takes data such as temperature and leaf wetness and tells growers when to spray fungicide to ward off diseases. Growers can use the system by logging onto www.agroclimate.org/tools/strawberry or use the website to sign up for email or text alerts.

Before the system was developed, strawberry farmers traditionally sprayed weekly during the November-to-March growing season. Spraying more often than is needed wastes money and can lead to fungicide resistance, said Natalia Peres, associate professor in plant pathology, who led the system’s development.

Not all strawberry growers use the system, but this research might persuade them to do so, said Tatiana Borisova, an assistant professor in UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

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Online tool lets Florida producers, customers find each other

Topic(s): Economics, Families and Consumers, New Technology, Nutrition

From farm gate to dinner plate, consumers are looking for more local food options.  According to the latest USDA Census of Agriculture, industry estimates put local food sales at $7 billion in 2011, reflecting the market’s growing importance.

A revamped online tool, called Florida Food Connect, at www.floridafoodconnect.com, offers agricultural producers an easy-to-use way to reach new customers and offers consumers an easy way to find local growers of the freshest foods.

Florida Food Connect offers large and small producers and growers opportunities to diversify sales and build profitable relationships.

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UF/IFAS study: Model may help growers mitigate costly droughts

Topic(s): Crops, Economics, New Technology, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida-created model may help growers plant at optimal times and avoid crop-destroying drought, which can cost millions of dollars in a given year, according to one of the tool’s creators.

If growers know when their crops need the most water, they can plant accordingly, said Keith Ingram, an associate scientist in UF’s agricultural and biological engineering department, part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Although forecasts indicate a drought’s likelihood, they aren’t perfect, Ingram said. But they can help a farmer decide whether to plant a crop earlier or later than usual so drought is less likely to occur when the crop is most sensitive to drought, Ingram said.

(more …)

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