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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new era began for the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation April 6 as ground was broken for the Austin Cary Forest Learning Center, a 7,800-square-foot education and outreach complex in the heart of the UF-owned forest northeast of Gainesville.
The learning center will succeed and surpass the Austin Cary Forest Conference Center, destroyed by fire in July 2011. Fundraising and recovery efforts began immediately after the fire, and at the groundbreaking event, UF Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Jack Payne expressed awe at their rapid progress.
“I never thought we’d be here two years later,” said Payne, who noted the importance of forest products to the state’s economy — $15 billion and 90,000 jobs. Speaking to a crowd of about 400 supporters, he discussed the Austin Cary Forest’s role as an essential link between natural resources and agriculture, and the role that pine trees may play in providing more of the world’s biofuel and fiber needs.
Construction for the learning center is slated to begin immediately and should be completed in less than one year, SFRC Director Tim White told attendees. The learning center will greatly enhance the school’s ability to provide distance education from Austin Cary Forest and accommodate large in-person events there, he said.
“This is a community resource, not an SFRC resource,” White said. “Tell people we want it to be used.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When questions arise about mosquito control, University of Florida entomologist Roxanne Connelly is one of the state’s most sought-after experts. Now, that expertise has earned her the presidency of a national organization.
Connelly, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was inducted Feb. 27 as president of the American Mosquito Control Association at the association’s annual meeting in Atlantic City, N.J. She’ll serve a one-year term.
“I’m very pleased about it,” Connelly said in a March interview. “Holding this position is really an honor for me because I was elected to it.”
The election happened at the 2010 AMCA annual meeting, where members voted Connelly to a four-year leadership stint. In 2011 she began by serving a one-year term as vice president, then another year as president-elect, and now president. In 2014 she’ll become immediate past president.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida will host a climate symposium April 2-3 that will feature leading authorities on food, sustainability and climate change.
Registration has closed for the event, but members of the media are welcome to attend. It is being held at the Reitz Student Union on campus. The last two sessions on April 3, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., are open to anyone, regardless of registration. For more information, please see agenda here: http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/landgrant/agenda.pdf.
Called Sustaining Economics and Natural Resources in a Changing World: Key Role of Land-Grant Universities, the symposium will address the impact land-grant institutions and their research have had on food security and agricultural production; infrastructure and transportation; energy; sustainable development and resource policies.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spring is right around the corner, and for some residents it may be time to think about sprucing up the yard with new landscaping.
Covering more than 5 million acres in Florida, turfgrass is the state’s most popular groundcover – but it may not be the ideal choice for every situation, say experts with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Emphasizing the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle “right plant, right place,” UF/IFAS Extension faculty members suggest that residents who are considering groundcover options start by assessing their needs and site conditions.
“We need turf for recreation, for that open front-yard spot in your landscape, and to give us that green look,” said Wendy Wilber, an Alachua County environmental horticulture Extension agent. “A good-looking Florida-Friendly Landscape can have a mix of plants and features, if the conditions call for it.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences recently completed the state’s largest-ever study of landscape turfgrass and fertilizer use, and new online videos will help homeowners and lawn-care professionals understand the findings.
The eight-year, $4.2 million study was funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to determine the effectiveness of current UF/IFAS fertilizer recommendations, which have been in use since about 2000, said John Hayes, UF/IFAS dean for research. Florida has more than 5 million acres of home and commercial turf.
“This work is an important body of information generated here to address important questions about nutrient management,” Hayes said. “We’re proud to communicate our findings and we hope they will play a substantial role in helping residents, industry personnel and policymakers protect water quality.”
Three hours of technical presentations from a Jan. 15 live symposium are available at http://tinyurl.com/be2la7q and a three-minute video aimed at educating the public has been posted at http://tinyurl.com/ajy4ytr.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The state’s biggest educational event for honey bee hobbyists, professionals and anyone interested in honey bees — Bee College — is back for a sixth year, University of Florida officials announced this week.
UF’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory has organized and hosted the event since 2008. This year’s event will be held at the UF Whitney Marine Laboratory in Marineland, Fla., March 8-9.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists are researching a natural herbicide that could be used in traditional and organic farming.
The herbicide, a chemical called thaxtomin, occurs naturally in Streptomyces bacteria that cause potato scab, a major disease of potatoes worldwide.
A study describing a key step in the process that could lead to its commercial production is published in the current issue of the journal Nature Chemical Biology. (more …)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s poison-control centers recently noted an uptick in calls about stinging caterpillars, and now a University of Florida entomologist warns that some people may suffer skin irritation from cocoons that are unusually abundant this year.
The culprit is a tussock moth, known scientifically as Orgyia detrita. Its caterpillars are usually active in March and April, often in the vicinity of oak trees. Touching the furry, black-and-white critters can cause localized swelling, itching, burning and redness. The caterpillar doesn’t produce stinging venom, but its hairs trigger an allergic reaction in some people.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When nature lovers book vacations in the great outdoors, they want their dollars to help preserve the places they visit, and a University of Florida study suggests that often happens.
Research in Costa Rica, one of the world’s top destinations for nature-based tourism, showed that successful tour businesses usually invested in environmental protection and maintenance, and tour businesses of all sizes circulated money throughout local economies.
The findings could help Florida’s fledgling nature-based tourism industry increase its appeal to potential customers, said author Taylor Stein, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For the first time, University of Florida researchers have developed plant-based technology that could reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and may also help treat cancer.
Known as lignin nanotubes, these cylindrical containers are smaller than viruses and tiny enough to travel through the body, carrying cancer patients’ medicine. They can be created in biorefineries from lignin, a plant substance that is a byproduct of bioethanol production.
Bioethanol is a renewable alternative to fossil fuel created by fermenting sugar — such as that from sugarcane and sweet sorghum juices, stalks and stems.
“We’re looking at biomedical applications whereby these nanotubes are injected in the body,” said Wilfred Vermerris, an associate professor in UF’s agronomy department and Genetics Institute who was part of the team that developed the nanotubes. The team’s work is described in a March issue of the journal Nanotechnology.