University of Florida

Scientist, city planners collaborate to address Tampa sea rise

Topic(s): Agriculture, Aquaculture, Economics, Environment, IFAS, Weather

Urban forestry in Tampa Bay, Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While most Floridians are focused on hurricanes and the flooding they cause, few realize that Tampa Bay sea levels are rising each year. The rise in sea levels will impact everything from homes to bridges to businesses for the next century, scientists say.

Despite the warning, city planners have been stymied in their efforts to create strategies to combat sea level rise because of varying projections from different agencies. Thus, scientists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences formed a committee to offer a unified projection of sea level rise. Now, the committee has released a report detailing projections through the year 2100.

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has accepted the recommendations for distribution to local governments.

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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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Ona White Angus Field Day set for Oct. 22

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS, Livestock, RECs, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Get ready to see the latest on a new breed of cattle, courtesy of research by scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

UF/IFAS scientists and administrators will host the field day Oct. 22. Activities will start at 8 a.m. at the Turner Agri-Civic Center, 2250 NE Roan St. in Arcadia and finish after lunch at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona.

“This Field Day will highlight topics related to the impacts of heat stress on beef cow/calf production – an important subject for Florida beef producers,” said John Arthington, director of the Range Cattle REC.

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Florida Sea Grant website features new flood insurance link

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Economics, Environment, Extension, Weather

Santa Fe River, flooded dirt road. (UF/IFAS Photo by Thomas Wright)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With tropical storm season in full swing, it’s a great time to think about flood insurance. A new feature on the Florida Sea Grant website puts you a mouse click way from information to help you understand flood insurance, why it’s important, whether you’re required to have it and how to get it.

The link, www.flseagrant.org/flood-insurance, gives you tips about this type of protection that all property owners need, said Florida Sea Grant Coastal Planning Specialist Thomas Ruppert.

Whether you live along the coast, in a flood-prone area or 200 to 300 feet above sea level, your property may flood.

“Flooding has to do with drainage,” said Ruppert. Just because you live farther from the coast or at higher elevation, does not mean you won’t flood. Flooding can occur almost anywhere under the right condition and land does not have to be in a low-lying area to flood, said Ruppert.

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UF/IFAS scientists: Keep up your guard for West Nile virus

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research, Weather


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for more information and a video, click here: http://bit.ly/1IrtbSv

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While Florida has never experienced a serious West Nile virus epidemic, UF/IFAS scientists caution the public to remain vigilant about this dangerous mosquito-borne illness.

Meanwhile, UF/IFAS researchers continue to study ways to nip the virus in the bud and monitor its spread. Researchers at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology in Vero Beach track rainfall, groundwater levels, mosquito abundance, wild bird populations and virus transmission to animals including horses and sentinel chickens. Researchers use these data to track the virus transmission between mosquitoes and wild birds, noting when mosquito infection rates reach the levels that can infect humans.

West Nile virus, first detected in the U.S. in New York City in 1999, and in Florida in 2001, has been confirmed hundreds of times nationally, and it can be lethal. For example, 779 cases (with 28 deaths) were reported in California in 2004, most from three southern California counties. The next summer, 880 cases (with 19 deaths) were reported in counties across the state.

The environmental conditions that favor West Nile virus transmission in Florida include very dry winter and early spring months, followed by heavy rainfall and short periods of drought – usually 10 to 14 days — in the late spring and early to mid-summer months.

Low winter temperatures also help to predict epidemic risk, especially in south Florida, said Jonathan Day, a professor at the UF/IFAS lab in Vero Beach. Years when exceptionally cold periods were reported in south Florida, such as 1977 and 1989, were followed by mosquito-borne virus epidemics.

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UF/IFAS study sheds light on how willing we are to adjust our energy bills

Topic(s): Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Finances, Green Living, IFAS, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — All it takes is six questions. You answer those, and University of Florida researchers say contractors will know how willing you are to upgrade your home for energy efficiency and whether you can afford the improvements.

Heating and cooling make up 54 percent of American households’ utility bills, a primary concern for Randy Cantrell, a UF/IFAS assistant professor and Extension specialist in housing and community development. For some people, their monthly energy bill comes as sticker shock. But we all react differently when we open the envelope, and Cantrell calls that response “botheredness.”

Cantrell wanted to know two things: how bothered people are by their energy bill and whether they can afford to do something about it. So he and Brad Sewell, a graduate research assistant, used a web-based survey of about 1,000 American homeowners to divide them into groups based on utility bill botheredness and budgetary constraints for household upgrades.

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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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UF/IFAS research finds ways to save water, strawberries and money during cold temps

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

Organic strawberry e-book Javier L. - Jan28,2014 - Citra - Focus grup assessment - Open field (45)-X2

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s strawberry producers must protect their multimillion-dollar annual crop from freeze damage. Traditional methods involve constant spraying of water during a cold snap. Growers are looking for ways to use less water, yet produce the same amount of crop.

New University of Florida research shows growers can keep using both their current sprinkler spacing and low pressure or enhanced real-time irrigation control to save water – and they can produce the same strawberry crop yield during mild freezes.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Michael Dukes, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering and the lead author on the study. The improvement? An automated control treatment that used real-time dew point measurements – rather than temperatures — to turn the system on and off, he said.

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UF/IFAS study shows how much water is needed to grow castor

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, IFAS, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists have discovered how much water castor needs in order to grow in North Florida, a key finding in their efforts to determine the feasibility of producing castor in Florida for the first time since 1972.

Castor, grown in Florida during World War II and currently being considered as a component for military jet fuel, contains the toxin ricin. So scientists next must develop a ricin-free cultivar, said Diane Rowland, a professor in agronomy and advisor for the lead author, graduate student David Campbell.

Scientists measure what’s known as “evapotranspiration” – or how much water leaves the plant and its surrounding soil – to get what’s called a “crop coefficient.” A crop coefficient tells scientists and growers the relative water use of the crop in comparison to what’s called a “standard crop evapotranspiration.” That standard comes often comes in the form of grass grown under optimal conditions. Florida growers can obtain site-specific standard evapotranspiration from the Florida Automated Weather Network, or FAWN (http://fawn.ifas.ufl.edu/).

“FAWN provides standard evapotranspiration data for more than 40 locations in the state of Florida already. Thus, one thing we need to provide to prospective castor growers is a crop coefficient for castor,” said Chaein Na, a postdoctoral scientist on the study. A grower can determine crop water use by multiplying the appropriate crop coefficient with the standard evapotranspiration to estimate daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal water requirements for the crop.

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UF/IFAS study cautions parents about arsenic from wet wood

Topic(s): Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research, Weather

Lena Ma

Lena Ma

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Wet wood treated with the pesticide chromated copper arsenate (CCA) loses arsenic three times more than dry wood; so if it rains, you can expect more arsenic on your wood deck surface, a new University of Florida study shows.

That may pose a potential danger to anyone who plays or walks on the deck, and that most often means children or pets, said Julia “Ky” Gress, a doctoral student in soil and water sciences at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Gress led an experiment in which she and her colleagues used standard wipe methods to collect arsenic from the surface of wood from a 25-year-old South Florida deck. Although the CCA-wood came from only one deck, it is representative of wood decks constructed before 2004, Gress said.

Before wiping the wood, researchers put water on it, then wiped it to see how much arsenic was present. They then cleaned different pieces of the decking with either tap water or a bleach-water solution, followed by pressure washing.

Results showed water alone caused three times more arsenic to form on the surface of wet wood than dry wood, and the use of bleach caused formation of chromate, another carcinogen. They also found that these chemicals remained on the wood surface for an hour after it was cleaned.

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