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.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Avocado growers now know that a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences mobile irrigation app works well to save money while maintaining crop yields. This data, reported in a new study, is critical for an industry that has a $100 million a year economic impact on Florida.
It’s also important because agriculture uses about 70 percent of the world’s water, the study’s authors say. Feeding the world’s population may require 50 percent more water than was needed in 2012, according to the World Water Assessment Program’s report to the United Nations. Thus, scientists are concerned about meeting the world’s food demand. Conserving agricultural water use through efficient irrigation scheduling would alleviate some of the burden of the increased demand.
To get the best irrigation results, many scientists use a combination of weather data and rates of evapotranspiration, a measure of how much water leaves the plant and its surrounding soil. UF/IFAS scientists tested data for average evapotranspiration for different periods of days. They also compared wet seasons versus dry seasons, said Kati Migliaccio, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering and lead author on the study.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Trees shade our homes and help clean the air of our cities. However, their production in the nursery and maintenance in the landscape requires energy and material resources. Some of those processes are mechanized and release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
Understanding this balance between tree environmental costs and benefits is crucial to those who plan and plant urban forests as it can help inform species selection, site development and prescribed care measures, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher and UF/IFAS Extension specialist.
In addition to providing shade, trees take in carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – and convert it and store it as carbon in their woody tissues. Trees generally provide the greatest environmental and economic benefits as they mature and grow to a significant size, said UF/IFAS environmental horticulture assistant professor Andrew Koeser.
In a newly published study, Koeser and Aaron Petri of the University of Illinois used a concept called “carbon neutrality” to examine tree benefits. When trees start storing more carbon than they emit – offsetting the amount spent by nurseries and foresters in tree care, that’s called “carbon neutrality.” That care can include planting, water, pest control, mulching, pruning and more.
“In general, the bigger the tree, the more environmental benefits you receive. Over time, the benefits of a tree finally equal its associated costs, with regard to carbon balance,” Koeser said. “I like to think of this as the tree paying back the environmental debt. If the tree doesn’t get to this point, it is emitting more carbon dioxide than it’s taking in and does a disservice to the environment.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Growers in Florida’s $300 million-a-year strawberry industry now have proof that the latest UF/IFAS-bred variety lasts longer on the shelf and tastes sweeter than two UF/IFAS cultivars, making it more attractive to faraway markets.
“These two attributes together make for a clear step up in eating quality for the consumer,” said Vance Whitaker, an associate professor of horticultural sciences and strawberry breeder at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida.
In a newly published study, scientists studied traits for Sweet Sensation® ‘Florida127,’ which was released commercially in the 2014-2015 growing season. Researchers compared them to those of ‘Florida Radiance’ and ‘Strawberry Festival,’ two other UF/IFAS-bred varieties.
BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Want to teach your students the good, the bad and the ugly about plants while incorporating three different sciences? Researchers at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center will lead the second annual workshop, “Don’t Get Caught with Your Plants Down,” from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The free workshop will be held at UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center, 3200 East Canal Street, Belle Glade, Florida. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and in-service points for professional development will be awarded by school districts through Master Inservice Plans (MIP).
This year’s program, developed by the UF/IFAS department of plant pathology, uses resources available from the American Phytopathological Society, said Richard Raid, a professor of plant pathology and workshop organizer. Middle and high school teachers will take back vital information to students on the importance of plants in daily life, he said.
Florida is home to the most invasive species in the country, and many travel in to the state via plants, Raid explained.
Who: Representatives from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will host educational booths at the Fifth Annual Tallahassee Science Festival.
- Environmental management in agriculture and natural resources department
- Microbiology and cell science department
- Wildlife ecology and conservation department
- UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center
- UF/IFAS Extension Leon County 4-H youth development
What: Children and their families are invited to learn about UF/IFAS scientific research and outreach in a fun, interactive setting. More than 125 exhibits and presentations will be featured.