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.”
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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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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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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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.