GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) students and UF/IFAS faculty recently took home several awards at the 41st International Plant Propagators’ Society (IPPS) southern region conference. IPPS is a global network of plant production professionals involved in horticulture research and education.
“It’s important for our students to attend and participate in professional conferences, such as IPPS, because they learn from top experts in the horticulture fields,” said Sandra Wilson, UF/IFAS environmental horticulture professor. “Our students engage in important experiential learning opportunities such as conversing with professors and other experts who have written these students’ college textbooks.”
The following students, faculty and staff received awards at the conference:
Sidney B. Meadows Award of Merit
- Mack Thetford, environmental horticulture associate professor at UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.
The award recognizes an outstanding individual for his or her contributions to the nursery industry and plant propagation in the Southern region of North America; it is the highest honor bestowed upon a member.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Homeowners with irrigation systems would use less water if they were offered more incentives, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences report.
Most will even pay more for better water quality.
Respondents to a UF/IFAS online survey of 3,000 such homeowners in Florida, Texas and California said reducing the price of water-efficient equipment would be the most effective strategy. That was followed by more practical information on household water conservation, easier identification of water-efficient appliances and better landscape irrigation ordinances.
Additionally, respondents liked the idea of a real-time water use mobile app and more information on the environmental impacts of water conservation.
“We know that informed homeowners are aware and concerned about the environmental consequences of excessive irrigation water use. However, awareness and concern are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for resource and water conservation.” said Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics and the lead investigator in the survey. “Efforts in promoting the adoption of water-saving irrigation systems and practices will be more successful when environmental conservation measures are combined with economic incentives such as utility or manufacturer rebates on smart irrigation equipment.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers and Extension agents are fanning across the state and the Southeast region to help growers and packers meet new federal food safety guidelines.
Driving across the state to packinghouses, farms and training centers, scientists such as Michelle Danyluk, Keith Schneider and Renee Goodrich are training growers in the latest regulations. “The state is massive, and we are not only tasked with helping Florida farmers meet new safety guidelines, but also are tasked with training educators in the Southeast so they can help growers in their states,” said Schneider, who with his colleagues is in the UF/IFAS department of food science and human nutrition.
Last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released several major rules that comprise the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The federal government has recognized the role of Extension specialists in training programs for key sections such as the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls for Human Foods Rule, Schneider said.
The University of Florida is one of two institutions that was awarded a $1.2 million grant by USDA in 2015 to help lead such training, Danyluk said. The Southern Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Produce Safety at UF, led by Danyluk, is one of two regional programs that play a leading role in coordinating and implementing FSMA-related training, education, and outreach programs for small and medium-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and/or small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.
Edward “Gilly” Evans
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Edward “Gilly” Evans, a longtime agricultural economist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Tropical Research and Education Center, has been named interim director of the center as the unit is hiring seven new faculty members.
The new scientists include an agro-ecologist (a combination of agronomist and ecologist) who will study, among other things, how production systems can remain profitable while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Other TREC hires include one of two hydrologists, two crop breeders, and a plant stress physiologist. A biogeochemist and a hydrologist will be hired in the near future.
Evans credits recently retired TREC director Chris Waddill for laying the groundwork for the seven new faculty positions. Once the new faculty are on-board, Evans will be supervising 100 full-time center employees, which will include 17 faculty members.
“It’s an exciting time for us because this will mark the beginning of a new chapter in TREC’s history that will bring us to a new level of excellence,” said Evans, a professor in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “More and more, growers are looking to us to help with the many challenges they face, including increased foreign competition, a barrage of pests and diseases and climate change sea-level rises that threaten the quality and quantity of water resources in Florida. My emphasis over the coming year will be on completing the new hires and getting our scientists the help and tools they need to be more effective in doing their jobs.”
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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.
JAY, Fla. – Come November, 800 pre-qualified families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties will line up to get free, healthy, locally-grown food for Thanksgiving dinner.
For the sixth year, the University of Florida IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center will join forces with Feeding the Gulf Coast to feed local families during National Farm to City Week, Nov. 21 to 25.
Farm to City Week is a national effort to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation for agriculture. The week of Thanksgiving, meals will be distributed to 400 pre-qualified families in Santa Rosa County and 400 families in Escambia County.
“We are proud, as members of the community, to continue a tradition of feeding needy families for the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Wes Wood, center director of the UF/IFAS West Florida REC. “Plus, we get to include other students in harvesting the produce, which helps them learn about farming.”
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Her career at UF/IFAS spanned 20 years, starting as Dean for UF/IFAS Extension and later working as director of three research and education centers. Now, Chris Waddill is ready to retire.
On Oct. 31, Waddill officially leaves the Tropical Research and Education Center, a facility she ran for six years. Now, she’s joining her husband, Van, another retired UF/IFAS administrator, at their home on Duck Key.
She left quite a mark on TREC. As Waddill leaves, the REC is hiring new faculty, including an agricultural engineer and two breeders.
“We are so pleased to have five of the seven new faculty hired at TREC,” she said. “These faculty will help South Florida agricultural interests remain competitive by seeking out new crops and improving existing crops that can thrive in our unique ecosystem. This is the first time in about 30 years that we will have breeders who can improve our tropical crops but most importantly, seek improved crops for our growers.”
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ONA, Fla. — Ranchers, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty and friends will gather Oct. 27 at the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center to celebrate the facility’s 75th anniversary of providing the best science for the cattle industry.
Among the scheduled speakers during the day’s festivities are Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources; John Arthington, director of the Range Cattle REC; Ned Waters, president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association; Erik Jacobsen of Deseret Cattle and Citrus; and Jim Strickland of Strickland Ranch.
Payne sees the Range Cattle REC as a facility that provides top-notch research data to ranchers in Florida and beyond.
“The Range Cattle REC has a long history of meeting the needs of Florida’s beef industry,” Payne said. “Our faculty in Ona study weeds, forage and ways ranchers can produce the best cattle for the market.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — October is National Bat Appreciation Month and to celebrate, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher Holly Ober is sharing critical findings on one of the rarest bats in the world.
The Florida Bonneted bat, which is endangered, nestles in tree cavities, palms and buildings in only 10 counties in Florida. The largest bat in Florida with a wing span of 20 inches, its ears point forward over its eyes, and its fur ranges in color from brown to gray, said Ober, an associate professor in the department wildlife ecology and conservation who’s based at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida.
“These bats are extremely rare, and when we began our research in 2013 no one had a good idea of where they occur,” Ober said. “We conducted extensive surveys and now we know that they are in 10 Florida counties.” The Florida Bonneted bat is found as far north as Polk County and all the way south to Miami-Dade County, she said.
When Ober and the research team began their work in 2013, only one natural roost where bats sleep during the day was known. During the past two years, the team has found seven more, she said. “We’ve been using several techniques to follow individual bats as they fly at night. We’ve found them flying as far away as 13 miles from where they spent the day sleeping,” Ober explained.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers, UF/IFAS Extension faculty and scientists will tackle production and pest problems – including the Q-biotype whitefly — when they gather for the 11th annual Florida Ag Expo on Nov. 2 at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
Created as a way to showcase the Gulf Coast REC, the Ag Expo is a one-stop resource for Florida fruit and vegetable producers. The day-long event includes education sessions, grower roundtables, field tours and demonstrations, as well as a large vendor show with about 80 ag-related booths. The Gulf Coast REC, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, sits on 475 acres in Balm, Florida, southeast of Tampa.
“The expo has become an important show for growers to stay up to date on the latest research results to assist them in vegetable and small-fruit production,” said Jack Rechcigl, director of the Gulf Coast REC.