IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS report: Florida agriculture, natural resources employment up 29 percent in 13 years

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

Workers picking and loading lettuce onto a conveyor belt.

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — About 1.56 million people worked full- or part-time in agriculture, natural resources and food industries in 2014, an increase of about 40,000 workers from 2013, and nearly 29 percent from 2001, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economic report.

Direct employment in the agriculture and natural resources sectors accounted for 13.8 percent of all jobs statewide. Employment in these sectors grew from 1.24 million jobs in 2001 to a peak of 1.34 million in 2008 before the recession, then recovered to 1.56 million in 2014, the latest year for which information is available.

“I would characterize that as modest growth in the industry, although the growth rate was higher before and after the recession (before 2007 and after 2010), and ag-food fared much better during the recession than many other leading industries such as construction and tourism,” said Alan Hodges, Extension scientist with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Growth in economic activity of agriculture, natural resources and related food industries continues to contribute to the stability of the state’s economy.”

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UF/IFAS study: Bringing bugs to the classroom makes everyone smarter

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS, Research

The resurgence of the bed bug is also linked to a recent change in pest management programs for other insects, particuarly the use of insect baits and growth regulators instead of sprays.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Through a curriculum appropriately titled, “Bed Bugs and Book Bags,” students worldwide are learning how to identify bed bugs, where they hide out and much more. The program teaches how to prevent the insects, and a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows the hands-on learning experience works.

The project started in 2012 in Duval County Public Schools and teaches the public how to know if the insect is indeed a bed bug and then how to deal with it. As measured by students’ increased knowledge of bed bugs, the curriculum succeeds in the United State, Canada, Israel and Saudi Arabia, the study shows.

Public knowledge of bed bugs is critical because the insects are coming back.

“Within the past few years, bed bug infestations have dramatically increased and have created major concern for society and for pest management professionals,” said Roberto Pereira, a UF/IFAS associate research scientist in entomology and a lead author on the new study. “They are thought to be the most difficult and expensive insect pests to control in the United States. By being aware of signs of infestation in our daily activities, we all can play our part to prevent spreading these pests.”

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Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory transitions to new cross-campus management

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Research

Seahorse Key lighthouse and marine laboratory

Please see caption below the story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Santa Fe College have teamed up to manage the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory, an off-shore facility in the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.

“This collaboration across our campus and between UF and Santa Fe College will increase our capacity for research, Extension and teaching on the Nature Coast,” said Micheal Allen, director of the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, a research unit located in Cedar Key, Florida. “Our combined efforts will enhance UF’s impact on the local community and its natural resources.”

Seahorse Key is home to a laboratory, marine specimen collection and a pre-Civil War era lighthouse, which has a bunkhouse with 26 beds for overnight stays. The island is also a field site for snake and bird research, Allen said.

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UF/IFAS researcher: Insects increase metabolism to adapt to dramatic weather change

Topic(s): Agriculture, Departments, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS, Pests, Research

Daniel Hahn, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, displays the type of flies he and former postdoctoral associate Giancarlo López-Martínez sterilized under a low-oxygen environment. Their studies demonstrate that doing so results in sterile flies who remain attractive suitors for mates than their counterparts sterilized in normal-oxygen conditions. UF/IFAS photo by Marisol Amador.

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A recent study led by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher found that an insect has evolved metabolically in response to an increase in weather cold snaps.

Daniel Hahn, an associate professor in the entomology and nematology department at UF/IFAS, led a team of researchers from UF, the University of California Berkeley, the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Kansas State University in the study of the fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Researchers found that selection to recover more quickly from cold snaps also drove the evolution of higher metabolic rates.

“While we hear a lot about warmer weather in spring and fall, weather fronts will continue to bring bouts of cold,” said Hahn, whose research focuses on ecological and evolutionary physiology. “This makes the transitions from warm to cold temperatures more extreme, and increases the vulnerability of animals and plants to damage from snap freezes.

“Small animals that rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature—like insects, frogs, and even sea turtles—are also susceptible to stress and even death from extreme cold fronts. We found clear changes in metabolism of the fly as it evolves and adapts to the cold snaps.”

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Gardening as a child may lead college students to eat more veggies

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

Veggies Get Fruved 091216

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As researchers nationwide try to get college students to eat healthier foods, they’re finding that gardening may lead to a lasting habit of eating more fruits and vegetables.

That’s a recent conclusion from the “Get Fruved” project. “Get Fruved,” an acronym for “Get Your Fruits and Vegetables,” is a $4.9 million collaborative project among eight American universities, including the University of Florida. At UF, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is leading the campus study. One of the first steps of the project is to better understand what factors predict and influence the health behaviors of college and high school students.

A new study from Get Fruved shows if college students gardened as a child or use their green thumbs now, chances are they will eat more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t.

“This finding is particularly relevant, given the recent popularity of school gardens and farm-to-school projects,” said Anne Mathews, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science and human nutrition and lead author of the study.

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UF/IFAS researcher wins grant to try to manipulate iron absorption in at-risk people

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Research

James Collins

James Collins

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — People with too much iron in their bodies can develop serious illnesses. So University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher James Collins plans to use a $2.5 million grant to begin to regulate iron absorption in the intestines.

Intestinal iron absorption is important because humans have no way to excrete excess iron. This inability to get rid of excess iron can create a condition known as “iron overload.” It can lead to cardiac issues, cancer, diabetes and a slew of other illnesses, Collins said.

People with genetic iron-overload disorders, or hemochromatosis, could eventually benefit from the research that Collins and his team will conduct.

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UF/IFAS earned record $140 million for research

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS, Research

Dr. Amy Simonne holds up two containers of solution. Image used in the 2014 Research Discoveries report.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences tackled many issues, including battling citrus greening, developing improved turfgrass and crops as well as combatting agricultural pests with a record $140 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, an 11 percent increase over the previous year.

UF/IFAS received $125.8 million for research in 2014-2015.

The $140 million is part of $724 million in research funding received by UF. The funding came from federal agencies, foundations, state agencies, local and regional government, companies and other sources.

Of the research money, UF/IFAS received about $24 million in external funds for citrus research.

Also, major U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to UF/IFAS included $4.4 million to develop improved turfgrass; $3.4 million to try to stem the impact of laurel wilt on avocados and $3.4 million to combat a bacterial disease damaging tomatoes.

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UF/IFAS-led team finds faster, better way to detect salmonella in meat, chicken

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Safety

2013 Small Farms Conference on Friday, August 2nd.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Please see caption at end of story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A team of scientists led by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers has found a faster and more precise way to detect salmonella in beef and chicken, a finding that could help prevent major illnesses.

Salmonella is the lauding cause of bacteria-associated foodborne illnesses in the United States, according to the study. Thus, early detection of the pathogen, by a rapid and sensitive test is important to prevent the illness.

In a newly published study, researchers artificially contaminated food with salmonella. They then tested the food samples using Salmonella-specific antibodies combined with a unique signal amplification technique. Their test found salmonella present after 15 hours and removed other microorganisms that sometimes clutter laboratory results. This is shorter than the two to three days it takes to detect salmonella in a culture, the study shows.

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UF/IFAS study: Global food security aided by combining different methods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

Citra farm, University of Florida/IFAS Research and Education Center, wheat, tilling soil, disking, tractor, field. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are closer to helping producers better meet global food demand, now that they’ve combined simulation and statistical methods to help them predict how temperature affects wheat crops worldwide.

A global team of scientists, led by those at UF/IFAS, used two different simulation methods and one statistical method to predict the impact of rising temperatures on global wheat production, and all came to similar estimates.

This finding, published in a study in the journal Nature Climate Change, is critical in predicting how much wheat and other crops we’ll need to feed the world, said Senthold Asseng, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering and leader of this study.

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UF/IFAS research represented at Tallahassee Science Festival Sept. 10

Topic(s): Extension, IFAS, RECs, Research

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.

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