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.
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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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found a new way to detect immature citrus 83 percent of the time, which lets growers know where to apply fertilizer and water and perhaps save on labor costs for the $10.9 billion a year Florida industry.
By detecting green, immature citrus more accurately and efficiently, growers can plan when and where to apply nutrients when fruit is growing and estimate their yield and profit before harvest, said Daniel Lee, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
Using a consumer-grade digital camera, Lee and his colleagues calculated color differences between the fruit and non-fruit objects, and identified fruit using a pre-determined fruit template. They also removed any incorrectly detected fruit via a shape analysis, Lee said. In a newly published study, scientists took 126 images of fruit on trees and detected 83 percent immature citrus, using a camera and the new algorithm. This method is different than the previous ones, which can detect fruit from the images taken farther away from the trees.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher who uses steam to help treat citrus trees infected by greening, will receive this year’s Citrus Engineer of the Year Award.
Reza Ehsani, a UF/IFAS associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, will receive the award June 21 at the 59th Biennial Citrus Engineering Symposium at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (REC) in Lake Alfred, Florida.
“I am very honored and grateful to receive this award,” said Ehsani, a faculty member at the Citrus REC. “It means a lot to me because it shows my efforts and contributions to the engineering aspects of citrus production have been of value and have been noticed and recognized by my peers.”
Michael Rogers, director of the Citrus REC, touted Ehsani’s work in using steam to help citrus trees infected by greening, or HLB as it’s known in scientific circles.
“The premise of his work is that, by using steam to kill the bacteria in the above-ground portion of the tree, growers can buy additional years of productivity of a grove before it must be replanted,” Rogers said. “The machine designs he has created are being used by several startup companies around the state. He definitely deserves the recognition.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Among his legacies, Ed Gilman wants to make sure trees don’t snap in Florida’s tropical storm-force winds.
When Gilman retires this month from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, he can point at several crowning achievements in his career.
Now, at age 62, Gilman will spend more time with family, of course, and do more woodworking, “working with dead trees instead of live trees,” he deadpanned.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When it comes to defining “local” food, things are hardly black and white. Instead, consumers perceive degrees of localness rather than firm local and non-local divisions, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have found.
Now researchers are using these findings to help Florida farmers effectively market their produce to Floridians.
“There is no official definition of local food in the way that there is for USDA organic food, for example,” said Joy Rumble, professor of agricultural education and communication at UF/IFAS. As a result, “local” has become a relative term. A consumer will say that a tomato grown in the county where she lives is more local than one grown in another part of the state, said Rumble. However, she will also say that a tomato grown anywhere in Florida is more local than one grown in Mexico.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers call them “water considerate” consumers because they conserve water fairly well but could stand some improvement. These water users might be the most appropriate people to target if you want to get more people to conserve water, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.
Laura Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication and the leader of the newly published study, worked with a team of UF/IFAS researchers to conduct an online survey of 1,063 Floridians.
“The key takeaway is that there is a group of people who really care about water but have room for improvement in their landscape water conservation practices,” Warner said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers will introduce genetic biotechnology as a potential means to preserve forests at a national conference next week in Washington, D.C.
Jiri Hulcr, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and one of his doctoral students, Caroline Storer, will host the symposium at the North American Forest Insect Work Conference May 31 to June 3.
Hulcr sees this conference as an opportunity for the UF/IFAS forest entomology team to disseminate innovative solutions to maintain tree health.
“Exploring the use of biotechnology in tree health protection is important to us, because we are increasingly running out of other options,” Hulcr said.
Additionally, he said: “Trees and forests provide jobs and benefits for everyone. Yet, around city neighborhoods and rural forests, anyone can witness the diminishing health of trees. The culprit is exotic pests and diseases. Forget pollution or drought: It is destructive tree diseases and pests — imported by overseas travelers or business people — that are nearly eliminating some tree species from our forests and orchards.”
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.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Q-biotype whitefly, a significant tropical and subtropical pest, may threaten Florida crops such as tomatoes, squash, beans, watermelons and many other vegetables and ornamentals if immediate measures are not taken to prevent its spread.
Scientists statewide, including those with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), are working together to control the whitefly which, for the first time, has been found outside greenhouses and nurseries in Florida. Known scientifically as Bemisia tabaci, the Q-biotype or Mediterranean whitefly is a light-colored, flying insect slightly less than 1 millimeter in length.
Researchers with UF/IFAS are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to manage the whitefly.
“Unfortunately, we have a developing whitefly issue in Florida,” said Lance Osborne, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida. “The situation may be improved with diligent attention to identifying and reporting any outbreaks.”