IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS offers tips for surviving the tropical storm

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Safety, Weather

Rivers and lakes overflowing after a severe storm or hurricane hits. (UF/Ifas photo: Marisol Amador)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With a tropical storm bringing hurricane-like winds to central Florida, residents are looking to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension service for tips on how to make it through.

In Florida alone, 16 disasters including hurricanes, tropical storms, tornados, flooding, severe storms and straight line winds were declared between 2004 and 2013, says Angela Lindsey, the UF/IFAS Extension representative for the Extension Disaster Education Network. Many UF/IFAS Extension agents are members of their counties Emergency Operation Centers, and are ready to help residents across the state.

Lindsey, an assistant professor in family, youth and community sciences, says it’s not too late to prepare for the worst. She offers the following tips:

  • Stock at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days.
  • Buy nonperishable and packaged foods that require little or no cooking. If the power goes out, food in the refrigerator may spoil.
  • Buy flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Make sure you have a first-aid kit handy.
  • Have all emergency numbers available in case utilities go out.
  • Get a battery-operated radio so that you can keep abreast of updates.
  • Fill up your car with gas before the lines get too long.

(more …)

New method tells growers more about citrus decay

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

Citrus Decay Detection 063016

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With citrus growers trying to save their groves in the wake of the deadly greening disease, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher has found a new technique that could help growers answer a vexing question – why so much fruit is dropping to the ground prematurely.

If we know why fruit is dropping, we can better figure out what caused it to drop – factors such as temperature, wind, humidity, rainfall, citrus greening or other factors, said Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

While there is no known cure for greening, it’s important to know its locations and how much damage the disease caused at those sites so growers can mitigate the disease, a new study led by Lee says.

One indicator of the severity of damage is the number of dropped fruit. The other is how much the fruit has decayed once on the ground.

(more …)

UF/IFAS Professor Ed Gilman: A legacy of tree growth

Topic(s): Announcements, Environment, Extension, Forestry, IFAS, Research, Weather

 

Ed Gilman, a professor of environmental horticulture with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, examines the trunk of a tree toppled by hurricanes this year. He said the most important thing to remember in an urban environment is the location of the trees, planting them so their roots are not affected buildings, curbs, driveways or sidewalks.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Among his legacies, Ed Gilman wants to make sure trees don’t snap in Florida’s tropical storm-force winds.

When Gilman retires this month from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, he can point at several crowning achievements in his career.

Now, at age 62, Gilman will spend more time with family, of course, and do more woodworking, “working with dead trees instead of live trees,” he deadpanned.

(more …)

UF/IFAS experts available for 2016 hurricane season

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Disaster Preparedness, Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Weather

Flood signage in Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The following University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences sources are available to speak to news media about a range of storm- and hurricane-related topics:

Hurricane and other natural disaster preparation: Mike Spranger, a professor in family, youth and community sciences, can give tips on how to prepare for any kind of natural disaster. He adapted a Gulfwide version of the Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards for Florida residents. The book has basic background on tornados, tropical storms, hurricanes, floods and wildfires, and covers everything from hurricane clips to what to keep in your pantry and what to take with you during an evacuation. 352-273-3557; spranger@ufl.edu.

Rebuilding/maintaining sand dunesDeborah Miller, a professor of wildlife ecology and conservation based at UF’s West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton, has studied the best ways to rebuild sand dunes destroyed by hurricanes. 850-983-7128, ext. 104; dlmi@ufl.edu.

Hurricane effects on Florida agriculture: Jonathan Crane, a professor and tropical-fruit crop specialist at UF’s Tropical Research & Education Center in Homestead, has studied how hurricanes affect Florida agriculture. His research covers damage to fruit crops and to grove infrastructure such as irrigation systems due to high winds and flooding. 305-246-7001, ext. 290; jhcr@ufl.edu.

Hurricanes and pets/farm animalsJohn Haven directs the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s All Animals, All Hazards Disaster Response Team and has participated in animal care operations related to hurricanes, fires and disease outbreaks. After leading the college’s responses to Hurricanes Charlie, Frances and Jeanne, he organized this formal veterinary emergency response team consisting of faculty, staff and students. He is a member of the State Agriculture Response Team, coordinator for the State Veterinary Reserve Corps disaster response team, and an Incident Command System Instructor. 352-294-4254, ext. 3154; havenj@ufl.edu.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

UF hosting a climate change colloquium

Topic(s): Agriculture, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Weather

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Several University of Florida departments, institutes and centers are joining together this week to host “Imagining Climate Change, “a unique approach to environmental change that engages authors, scholars, scientists and the general public to imagine our climate futures.

The Spring 2016 colloquium will bring award-winning and influential French and American science fiction authors and climate scientists to the UF campus to dialogue with UF faculty and researchers in the humanities, climate studies, and water management, and to explore new ways of representing and responding to environmental change.  The event, scheduled for February 17 to 18, overlaps with the UF Water Institute’s 5th Biennial Symposium, a major event in the field of water research and management. (more …)

UF/IFAS study shows 10-day weather forecasts can increase farmers’ profits

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

Citra farm, University of Florida/IFAS Research and Education Center, wheat, tilling soil, disking, tractor, field. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida-led study shows how Australian wheat farmers can use hypothetical 10-day weather forecasts to increase their annual profits by hundreds of thousands of dollars, a finding that can be applied to other parts of the globe.

Scientists now want to know how a real – meaning, imperfect – 10-day weather forecast will affect farmers’ decisions on when to plant and fertilize, said Senthold Asseng, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. They may apply their new findings on a fresh study that would predict crop yield based on 10-day forecasts in the United States.

“U.S. farmers make decisions based on anticipated growing conditions, including rainfall and temperature,” said Asseng, who led the study. “So I think it would be very useful to develop a project with farmers to explore if they could make more money or be more sustainable when considering a short-term forecast in their decision making. If so, real forecasts need to be analyzed and combined with farmers’ decisions.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS explores bringing popular South American food fish to Florida

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Research, Weather

Arapaima 122215 (3)

See caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Have you dined on Arapaima? South Americans eat the fish regularly, and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying whether it could be a viable food fish in the United States.

“It has lots of high-quality meat,” said Jeffrey Hill, a UF/IFAS associate professor of fisheries and aquatic sciences. “It’s an easy fish to sell. It’s a really good food fish. It’s one of my favorites. It’s has a good taste. It’s easy to cook.”

Hill, doctoral student Katelyn Lawson and other researchers at the UF/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, Florida, recently published two studies concerning Arapaima. One found the fish can only survive in waters that are at least 16 degrees Celsius, or about 61 degrees Fahrenheit. That means it would only survive in South Florida waters, Hill said. The other study found a low risk of Arapaima getting out of fish farms and into canals. If Arapaima wound up in canals, they would prey on other fish.

The risk analysis was published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, while the lethal temperature study was published in the North American Journal of Aquaculture.

(more …)

Study: Rare wetland fires can help, hurt habitat

Topic(s): Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Research, Safety, Weather

 

Great Blue Heron. Big Cypress National Preserve along Loop Road. Shot 03/22/02.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When you think of wildfires, you may not think of wetlands. But the seldom-seen blazes may help some endangered species, according to a newly published study by a former UF/IFAS researcher.

Severe wetland fires — so rare they occur only a few times per century – also can change vegetation and patterns of water movement, said Adam Watts, who led the study as a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

During a smoldering fire, wetlands can become deeper if the fires burn muck or peat soils.

“In some cases, this could help improve habitat for endangered species, such as wood storks,” said Watts, now a research assistant professor at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. But wetland fires can also kill many trees and shrubs, causing changes to the vegetation that returns.

(more …)

UF CALS student, faculty study cost-savings for blueberry cold protection measures

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Research, Weather

Cold Blueberry protection (2) 120815

Jeff Williamson, professor of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida in Gainesville, checks a blueberry crop for freeze damage, Thursday FEB-28, 2002. He said the 50-acre crop was protected from the late winter freeze by sprinklers that put a coating of ice on plants, thereby insulating them against temperatures ranging from the high teens to the low 20's around the region on Thursday morning.

See caption for both photos below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For Tori Bradley, learning about cold weather may turn into cold hard cash for Florida blueberry growers.

Bradley, a University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduate student, interned with faculty to develop cold-weather protection strategies so blueberry growers can save money.

As part of her UF/IFAS Research internship, Bradley studied the economic advantages for growers who use precision cold protection, according to a new UF/IFAS Extension document, http://bit.ly/1N5A9gc. Bradley studied the differences between precision cold protection and uniform cold protection. Blueberries bloom in late winter or early spring in Florida, making them susceptible to frosts. For uniform strategy, growers start frost protection irrigation when the temperature hovers between 31 and 35 degrees.

By using the precision method, growers can save an average of $44 per acre per season on irrigation pumping costs, depending on their location in Florida, according to Bradley and her faculty mentors.

(more …)

Irrigation method saves 50 percent of water needed for potato growth

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

 

 

 

Citra, Pivot irrigation watering fields. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found an irrigation method that uses 50 percent less water than traditional systems to grow potatoes – an important finding for the $131 million-a-year Florida crop.

The system is called “hybrid center pivot irrigation.” With this method, about two-thirds of the water used to help grow potatoes is sprayed from above ground, similar to natural rainfall, and about one-third comes from under the ground – a traditional method known as “seepage irrigation.”

UF/IFAS Assistant Professor Guodong “David” Liu led a group of UF/IFAS researchers in testing the impact of hybrid center pivot irrigation on soil moisture and temperature at a Manatee County, Florida potato farm.

The method saved about 55 percent of water in a three-year trial at the farm. Additionally, researchers found no loss in crop yield using less water. Liu said he now is convincing growers to use center pivot irrigation with fertigation, in which all the water comes from above-ground sprinklers. Scientists say they may save one third more water.

(more …)

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