IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS model delivers growers severe weather data specific to their farms

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers can now learn about the probability of extreme weather events on their farm before the growing season so they can more appropriately plan agricultural practices such as when to fertilize and irrigate, thanks to new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research.

UF/IFAS experts, led by Caroline Staub and Diego Pequeno, are conducting a study in which they hope to give growers tools to anticipate extreme weather such as severe heat or dry spells during the various phases of crop development. If severe weather strikes during flowering, for example, it can severely impact crops. Their motivation is to better integrate weather information with the decision set at the farmer’s disposal, so that weather-related risk can be reduced in time, Staub said.

“Growers kept asking us, ‘What is the probability of getting an extreme weather event on my farm when my crop is ready to harvest,’” said Staub, a post-doctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS agricultural and biological engineering department.

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UF/IFAS celebrates Arbor Day with research, Extension activities, including tree giveaways

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Forestry, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida Arbor Day approaches on Jan. 20, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and research faculty are holding special commemorations and studying how to ensure trees help our environment and economy.

“Arbor Day is a great time for everyone to be reminded of the importance of trees and forests in their everyday lives and to contribute to the approximately 70 million trees that are planted each year in Florida for reforestation,” said Tim Martin, professor and co-interim director of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

“Wood harvested from Florida’s forests is the largest agricultural commodity in the state,” Martin said. “But these forests provide much more than just paper and boards. Clean water and air, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity are a just a few of the important benefits that forests provide for us all.”

In fact, UF/IFAS researchers have calculated that a typical acre of Florida forest provides more than $5,000 of services to the state’s residents each year, with just 7 percent of that value from timber, he said.

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UF/IFAS experts to stress environment, immigration, production at ag policy conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Food Safety, IFAS, RECs, Research

Spiro Stefanou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists and other experts will explore economic insights helpful for making informed business and policy decisions at the second annual Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference, organized by the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

This year’s topics include the innovation economy, food and nutrition policy, agricultural labor, water quality and management and agricultural production policy and trade.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Balm, Florida.

“Agriculture is a vital industry for Florida with interesting opportunities and compelling challenges as we move into the future,” said Spiro Stefanou, chair of the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Our goal is to bring industry experts, researchers, policy and business leaders together to discuss the current and emerging challenges related to Florida as an engine of innovation, policy related to food, nutrition and consumer decision making, water quality and management, agricultural labor and the prospects for our fruit and vegetable industry.”

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Nature Coast research internships give UF students an edge

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pollution, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Last summer, Cory Gillis found himself waking before dawn at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, where he’d been assigned to track the breeding calls of the northern bobwhite quail as part of an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But he wasn’t complaining.

“It was amazing to be out in the forest before sunrise in an area without any human influence, not even a sound,” said Gillis, now a senior in the University of Florida department of wildlife ecology and conservation.

Summer internships like Gillis’ are made possible by Nature Coast Biological Station, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Each year, the station selects a handful of students in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences for internships with various researchers, agencies and labs on Florida’s Nature Coast.

Applications for 2017 summer internships will be open in February, said Savanna Barry, Florida Sea Grant regional specialized agent based at the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station. This winter, another group of students will intern with the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, where they will collect data on manatee-human interactions and assist with other duties around the busy manatee tourism season, Barry said.

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Big Bend Science Symposium puts research on public view

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pollution, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scientists on Florida’s Big Bend coastline spend their careers studying local ecosystems and finding solutions to challenges such as oyster reef decline or the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Feb 1 to 3, the second annual Big Bend Science Symposium will hold an open forum where the public can meet these scientists and learn about their discoveries and projects.

“The goal of the symposium is to communicate the latest science being done in the Big Bend region and to give visitors a chance to engage directly with scientists,” said Mendy Allen, program coordinator for the Nature Coast Biological Station, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Symposium scientists will represent several universities, including the University of Florida, state and federal agencies, and conservation groups.

Oral presentations will begin Feb. 1 at 9 a.m. at the Cedar Key Community Center located at 809 6th Street, Cedar Key, FL 32625. All presenters registered with the symposium may attend.

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UF/CALS student named prestigious 2017 “Cultivator” at national Farm Foundation® conference

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student who studies improvements to production and quality of grapes has been named UF’s second Cultivator at the 2017 Farm Foundation Round Table.

Crystal Conner, a plant science major, was one of six college students across the nation recognized as rising leaders in agriculture. The students shared their research during the conference hosted the week of Jan. 4 in Irvine, California.

“It was such an honor to first be selected by CALS Dean Elaine Turner, and then to secondly be chosen by the Farm Foundation Round Table to present my research,” Conner said. “I began this project because I wanted to learn more about tissue culture and its future possibilities. I never imagined that others would gravitate toward the possibilities of its impact at such a fast rate.”

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UF/IFAS researchers show potential market for locally grown Asian vegetables

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Asian-Americans in three East Coast states, including Florida, yearn for more of their native vegetables, and those crops can be grown in the East, say two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Gene McAvoy, a UF/IFAS Extension vegetable specialist, and Shouan Zhang, a UF/IFAS plant pathology associate professor, were among a group of 17 researchers from four land-grant universities who surveyed Asian Americans’ preferences in Asian vegetables. Then the researchers tested the crops in various states to see how well they would grow.

There’s a market for locally grown Asian vegetables, researchers say.

In Florida, Asians account for 2.8 percent – or 557,000 — of the state’s 19.8 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of Asian Americans has jumped by 32 percent from 2000 to 2011, according to the census bureau. Asians are expected to make up about 40 million Americans by 2030. On the East Coast alone, there are 5.8 million Asian Americans in 2014, according to the study.

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UF/IFAS researchers find 2 virus-carrying mosquito species; 9 new ones in a decade

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist has found two more non-native mosquito species in Florida that transmit viruses that cause disease in humans and wildlife. That makes nine new mosquito species found in Florida in the past decade.

“The presence of any exotic mosquito is important from a nuisance, or biting, standpoint,” said Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, Florida. “However, these two species are known to transmit pathogens that affect human and animal health.”

Burkett-Cadena found the mosquito species Aedeomyia squamipennis and Culex panocossa in Florida City and Homestead, both in south Miami-Dade County. He and Erik Blosser, a post-doctoral researcher at the FMEL, were visiting South Florida to collect a native mosquito species, Culex cedecei, to investigate its biology and ecology, when they noticed the two non-native species.

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UF/IFAS researcher to lead $1 million study to increase global wheat production

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher will lead a nearly $1 million project to increase worldwide wheat yield potential to help feed an anticipated 9.5 billion people globally by the year 2050.

To do this, Md Ali Babar, a UF/IFAS agronomy assistant professor and his team of researchers, hope to increase the harvest index from 45 to 60 percent, which translates to much more wheat. The harvest index quantifies a crop’s yield versus the amount of biomass – shoots and roots – that it produces.

“This will increase wheat yield and improve food security for a growing population,” Babar said.

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Learn more about Florida’s water resources with new UF/IFAS website

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Are you concerned about how your water tastes? Do you want to know how much you use, or whether we’ll have enough water for the next generation? A new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website links users with UF/IFAS programs on how to preserve and, perhaps improve the quantity and quality of water in Florida.

Click on http://water.ifas.ufl.edu and find educational resources provided by UF/IFAS, said Kati Migliaccio, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who’s among the people who created the site.

“I think our greatest achievement is providing a website for Florida resident to quickly access answers to their questions or solve their problems concerning water,” Migliaccio said.

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