IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Mole Cricket Biological Control Program saves state millions

Topic(s): Agriculture, Departments, Economics, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests, RECs, Research

Howard Frank,left and Tom Walker check two-part trap that uses synthesized mole cricket calls to monitor both mole crickets and the beneficial flies that locate their hosts by sounds.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In a recent study, researchers with the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in cooperation with Florida A&M University economists estimated that a 34-year program to control invasive pest mole crickets in the state has saved cattlemen approximately 13.6 million dollars a year. Over the long term, that figure balloons to 453 million dollars.

“The partnership with the State of Florida has been crucial to controlling the mole crickets,” said Norm Leppla, a UF/IFAS professor of entomology and nematology. “The Mole Cricket Biological Control Program has been worth every penny invested by the Florida Legislature and other stakeholders in the state.”

UF/IFAS researchers remember when the mole crickets reached outbreak levels in Florida during the mid-1900s and began wreaking hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage to crops, pastures and turf. Cattlemen were beside themselves as they watched the tiny insects tear across their pastures like a biblical swarm of locusts. The effects were devastating, but not irreversible.

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UF/IFAS Dairy Unit researchers keep cows cool, productive

Topic(s): Agriculture, Departments, IFAS, Livestock, Research
Dairy cows being milked in a milking parlour at the Shenandoah Dairy Farm. Milking, milk production. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – June is National Dairy Month and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Dairy Unit is studying ways to get more milk and cheese to your table. But it’s no easy task to keep cows cool enough to produce in the scorching Florida sun.

That’s where researchers with the UF/IFAS Dairy Unit, in Hague, Florida come in. “It is difficult for a dairy cow in a hot environment to meet her full potential for either milk yield or fertility,” said Geoff Dahl, chair of the UF/IFAS animal sciences department. “The physiological adjustments the cow makes to prevent body temperature from rising during heat stress reduce productivity.”

This is especially true for cows in their dry period—cows in late pregnancy or who are not lactating. “These are times when we don’t milk the cows, because for six to eight weeks they don’t produce milk,” Dahl explained.

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Researchers honored at 9th annual UF/IFAS FAES Research Award ceremony

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research

2016 Agricultural Experiment Station Research Awards Ceremony at the Harn Museum of Art on Thursday, May 19th.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers were honored for helping combat diseases affecting global agriculture, developing new plant varieties and conducting other impactful research and developments in the past year at the ninth annual UF/IFAS Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Research Awards ceremony.

“Our researchers don’t think the sky is falling; they believe that the sky is the limit,” said Jackie Burns, dean for UF/IFAS Research. “It is a privilege to be associated with faculty who are the best and brightest.”

Awards were given for the best thesis and dissertation from master’s and Ph.D. students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Honors were also bestowed to the UF/IFAS 2015 University of Florida Research Foundation Professors, researchers who produced outstanding publications and those who developed new plant and utility patents. Some of the patents included a highly rated variety of tomato called “Garden Gem,” six new varieties of the Coleus plant, including “Gator Glory,” and an invention to control flies and mosquitoes.

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Myers named Chair of UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Brian Myers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brian Myers has been named Chair of the University of Florida’s department of agricultural education and communication. The department, in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is considered among the country’s best in developing leaders, educators and communicators to meet society’s challenges.

Myers is a professor whose research interests include agriscience, curriculum development, agriscience instructional methods, and the design and delivery of teacher professional development. He has advised more than 35 graduate students, and served on the supervisory committee for dozens more.

“Dr. Myers has dedicated his academic life to agricultural education and communication, and we at the University of Florida, the state and the country benefit from his drive to be a positive influencer to the profession,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “He truly is an asset, and our students, faculty and citizens all reap the rewards of his commitment.”

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UF/IFAS to host 65th Annual Florida Beef Cattle Short Course on May 4-6

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, IFAS, Livestock

Who:    The University of Florida IFAS department of animal sciences will host the 65th Annual Florida Beef Cattle Short Course.

What:    Both small and large beef producers are invited to hear experts discuss hot topics and current research related to the beef industry. Presentations will include “Modern Ag in a Facebook Culture,” “Understanding the Use of GMOs in Agriculture” and “Beef Cattle Improvement in the Genomics Era.” Hands-on demonstrations will cover animal production, disease monitoring, and feed evaluation. Participants will have the opportunity to meet others in the industry during the trade show and catered dinner.

When:   1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m, Wednesday, May 4

8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, May 5

8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Friday, May 6

Where:   Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center

2142 Shealy Drive

Gainesville, FL 32611

For more information, visit http://animal.ifas.ufl.edu/beef_extension/bcsc/2016/short.shtml

To register, go to http://bit.ly/1plNY4k

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By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Matthew Hersom, (352) 392-2390, hersom@ufl.edu

 

UF/IFAS professor wins national communicator’s award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Kevin Folta

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kevin Folta, a professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has received the prestigious 2106 Borlaug CAST Communication award from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). Folta, chair of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, was lauded for being an outstanding teacher, mentor, researcher, and organizer.

“Folta focuses on clear, credible information when communicating science to non-scientific audiences,” said Kent Schescke, CAST executive vice president. “He does an excellent job in training scientists, farmers, physicians and students to perform public outreach in scientific or controversial topics.”

As a department chair, Folta provides statewide administrative leadership in UF’s teaching, research, and Extension fruit and vegetable programs. He coordinates and supports faculty efforts in more than 50 research programs at seven locations, ranging from citrus breeding and biotechnology to organic and sustainable production.

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UF/IFAS professor wins prestigious national teaching award

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, RECs, Research

Thetford.Students

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mack Thetford, an associate professor based at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, has been selected the 2016 American Society of Horticultural Science Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award. Thetford, whose teaching and research focus on landscape ornamentals and plant propagation, will be honored at the ASHS awards ceremony in Atlanta on Aug. 8.

The ASHS Outstanding Undergraduate Educator award recognizes an educator who has had a distinguished and outstanding undergraduate education teaching career in horticultural science for a period of 10 or more years. Thetford has taught at UF for 21 years.

“Dr. Thetford’s teaching efforts at the WFREC are appreciated, and I am grateful for the depth of knowledge and passion that he brings to the profession,” said Wes Wood, director of the West Florida REC.

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UF/IFAS student to participate in White House science panel on April 13

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida/IFAS student will serve on a panel at the White House Science Fair on April 13. The science fair is the last of President Obama’s administration.

Kiona Elliott is a third-year student majoring in horticultural sciences, and has been asked to reflect on her past experience in the White House Science Fair, discuss the importance of STEM training and talk about her current research activities. She currently attends UF as a McNair Scholar, named for astronaut Ronald McNair who perished in the Challenger Disaster in 1986.

“I am honored to represent UF/IFAS during the White House Science Fair,” Elliott said. “The university has nurtured my passion for the sciences, and the faculty have been supportive as I pursue my educational goals.”

Elliott performs research with Dr. Kevin Folta’s group in the horticultural sciences department, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, examining uses for a potentially new class of plant growth regulators that could improve sustainable farming.  She has presented her work at national meetings, and plans to enroll in a leading graduate program with a focus on using technology to ensure food security for developing nations.

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Renowned scientists join the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Departments, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Research, Soil and Water Science

Cheryl_Palmpedrosanchez

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two acclaimed faculty, internationally recognized for their work in tropical agriculture, have joined the faculty at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Pedro Sanchez has been named a professor in the department of soil and water sciences, while Cheryl Palm will be a professor in the department of agricultural and biological engineering. Both will work with the UF/IFAS Institute of Sustainable Food Systems.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Palm to UF/IFAS because of the great work we are already doing in tropical agriculture, and Drs. Sanchez and Palm will help grow our programs,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources at UF. “Both scientists bring a wealth of knowledge and passion for agriculture and its impact on the world. They will complement the work we do at UF/IFAS to improve our local and global communities, and will help position UF as a global leader in tropical agriculture.”

Sanchez and Palm both work at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which brings together the people and tools needed to address some of the world’s most difficult problems, from climate change and environmental degradation, to poverty, disease and the sustainable use of resources.

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UF/IFAS hosting free annual PLANT CAMP for science and environmental primary school teachers

Topic(s): Departments, Environment, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Invasive Species, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden

The UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants is looking for 24 science and environmental educators from elementary, middle or high schools interested in attending PLANT CAMP, June 20-24, 2016 at UF.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting its annual, free, week-long PLANT CAMP for science and environmental primary school teachers this summer, with lodging and meal costs covered by the program’s sponsors.

The UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants is looking for 24 science and environmental educators from elementary, middle or high schools interested in attending June 20-24, 2016, at UF. Applications are due February 21st. (more …)

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