IFAS News

University of Florida

Nature already dramatically impacted by climate change, study reveals

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Departments, Environment, Forestry, IFAS, Pollution, Safety, Weather

Lake Alice, trees, nature, water, landscape.    UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Global climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems, according to a new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and in cooperation with a broad international partner group, published in the prestigious journal Science.

“We now have evidence that, with only a ~1 degree Celsius of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt in natural systems,” said study lead author Brett Scheffers, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS department of wildlife, ecology and conservation. “Genes are changing, species’ physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are shifting their ranges and we see clear signs of entire ecosystems under stress, all in response to changes in climate on land and in the ocean.”

During this research, Scheffers, a conservation ecologist, collaborated with a team of researchers from 10 countries, spread across the globe. They discovered that more than 80 percent of ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of responses to climate change.

“Some people didn’t expect this level of change for decades,” said co-author James Watson, of the University of Queensland in Australia. “The impacts of climate change are being felt with no ecosystem on Earth being spared.“

(more …)

UF/IFAS FAWN system helps growers save water, money

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Departments, Economics, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, RECs, Research, Weather
Rick Lusher, standing, and George Braun, field site supervisor for FAWN, install a temperature sensor at a monitoring station located at UF's Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra, Fla.  Spring 2008 Impact Magazine image.  UF/IFAS File Photo.

See cutline below.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Citrus grower James Shinn remembers days when he and his workers would rush out as early as 5 p.m. to turn water pumps on to irrigate his crops. “We had no idea when the temperature would drop, so we had to get out there early and get the water going.”

Now, researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are helping state growers save millions of dollars via a tool to gauge weather in agricultural areas.

The Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), was started in 1998 to provide weather decision-making data in agricultural regions, said Rick Lusher, director of FAWN. While all National Weather Service tools are located at airports, FAWN stations are located in agricultural areas, he said.

“We estimate that if farmers use FAWN tools to determine when to irrigate their crops, they can save millions of dollars and millions of gallons of water,” Lusher said.

(more …)

UF/IFAS-based PINEMAP project earns national award from USDA

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biofuels, CALS, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Forestry, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research, Weather

pinemap-award

Caption: PINEMAP principal investigator Tim Martin, right, accepts congratulations from Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, at the NIFA Partnership Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (Photo courtesy of USDA-NIFA)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The PINEMAP project, based within the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, devoted five years to helping the Southeastern planted-pine industry prepare for future production challenges. Now, PINEMAP is being honored with a prestigious national award from the United States Department of Agriculture.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, announced that PINEMAP would receive one of three 2016 NIFA Partnership Awards presented nationwide. The award recognizes PINEMAP for its outstanding performance integrating and fulfilling the education, Extension and research missions common to all land-grant universities.

The award confirms yet again the impact of UF/IFAS programs for one of the state’s most important industries, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“Planted pine is cultivated on about 20 million acres throughout the Southeast. This industry is enormously important both economically and environmentally, and the work of PINEMAP was crucial to help secure the industry’s future,” Payne said. “Our UF/IFAS faculty members have shown exemplary leadership and scholarship; this honor is richly deserved.”

PINEMAP involved UF and 10 other southeastern U.S. land-grant institutions, as well as numerous collaborators from government agencies and private industry. The project was launched in February 2011 after leaders obtained one of three $20 million grants awarded concurrently by USDA as part of its Coordinated Agriculture Projects program, meant to strengthen vital domestic crop-production industries. (more …)

Inaugural UF Community Chats event focuses on allergies, asthma and climate change

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — On Sunday, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will hold the first in a series of educational panel discussions known as Community Chats, this one focused on the possible consequences of climate change for North Florida residents with allergies or asthma.

The event takes place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2 on the UF main campus in Gainesville. Registration for in-person attendance has closed, but the event will be live-streamed on the Community Chats website, http://communitychats.wordpress.com.

Expert panelists from several UF units will discuss the possible effects of climate change on air and water quality, as well as steps that communities can take against climate change. Audience members are welcome to submit questions to the panelists before or during the event, using the Community Chats website, Twitter account or Facebook page, using the hashtag #CCNCFL.

Community Chats is funded by UF/IFAS and is produced in partnership with the Florida Museum of Natural History and the UF College of Journalism and Communications. The next event is scheduled for late October.

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 Contacts

Source: Katie Stofer, 352-273-3690, stofer@ufl.edu

 

 

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.

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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.

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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 …)

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