IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS survey shows homeowners want incentives to conserve more water

Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

water-conservation-incentives-113016

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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.”

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UF/IFAS researcher: Neighborly conversations can help with water conservation

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Lawn & Garden, Research

People work at a rain barrel building workshop at the Alachua County Extension Office. Photo taken December 4th, 2015.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Your neighbors and peers probably care more about water conservation than one might assume, and that may mean they’re open to some new ideas about using less water, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

Laura Warner, who will publish a new study on UF/IFAS Extension water conservation programs, thinks these neighborly discussions could prove fruitful.

“You may not notice the ways someone conserves, but they may already be taking action to not waste water by using good irrigation practices, and they may be open to some new ideas if you strike up a conversation about how you save water in the home landscape,” said Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communications.

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UF/IFAS Extension Desoto County combines library and agriculture to draw youth to 4-H

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables
Kristie Popa. Photo taken on 9-2-15

Kristie Popa

ARCADIA, Fla. — Families in Desoto County who visit their local library could walk away as gardeners and healthier eaters. That’s because the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Desoto County has implemented a program that creates a garden at the local library.

The Family Learning and Literacy Garden was started in 2015 via a partnership between UF/IFAS Extension Desoto County and other community organizations, said Kristie Popa, a UF/IFAS Extension 4-H agent. So far, eight families have successfully completed their first growing season, she said. They are currently preparing their plots for their next crop, she said.

The idea was to educate youth and their families about gardening, health, nutrition and agriculture, Popa said. “We wanted to immerse families in books to encourage a love of reading, while engaging young people in 4-H who may not have had the opportunity before,” she said. “So, gardening at the library gave us the perfect opportunity to engage families in literature and in healthy living.”

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UF/IFAS help snowbirds navigate Florida gardening, landscaping

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

A watering tin and gardening gloves at a home garden.

OCALA, Fla. — Robert and Christy Cathcart had just moved to Florida, and wondered how soon they could replicate their bountiful garden back home in Connecticut. They soon realized that they would need help with gardening and landscaping in their new home state. They turned to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Marion County office.

“Back in Connecticut, we had 13 raised beds and we grew everything from corn to tomatoes to herbs, pumpkins and lettuce,” Christy Cathcart said. “Here, the soil is sandy, and there is a finite amount of available water. There’s not as much rain in Florida as in the Northeast, so gardening and landscaping are very different.”

UF/IFAS Extension Marion County offers a course to the state’s snowbirds, and the Cathcarts eagerly signed up. “From Newbie to Native: Transitioning to Central Florida,” is offered in Ocala to residents who hail from other parts of the country, but spend part of the year in Florida, or who have recently made the state their permanent home.

“Often times, the newcomers will want to garden or have nice landscaping, but are not use to the Florida soil or climate,” said Jack LeCroy, the Florida Friendly Landscape UF/IFAS Extension agent Marion County. “Also, they don’t know the state’s rules and regulations on irrigation, so they end up wasting a lot of water.”

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UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County hosts Farm City Tour Nov. 1

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Livestock, Vegetables

Beef Field Day farm tour, beef cattle, fences, trees. UF/IFAS Photo: Marisol Amador.

BUSHNELL, Fla. — Residents of Sumter County are gathering early today for a tour of the county’s agricultural offerings. Organizers hope participants will walk away with a deeper connection to their food and food sources.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Sumter County office is hosting a Farm-City Tour on Nov. 1. The tour includes a tour of the Bushnell Nursery, the John Graham Ranch, the Webster Livestock Auction and Farmer’s Market and the Florida Bass Conservation Center.

“Farm-City Week has been held since the 1950s as a way to bridge the gap between the producers and consumers,” said Joseph Stacy Strickland, UF/IFAS county Extension director for Sumter and Hernando counties. “Our agricultural enterprises are dependent on consumers and consumers are dependent on our agricultural products. We in the United States are blessed with an abundance of safe, healthy and affordable food.”

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UF/IFAS Extension prepared to help Floridians facing Hurricane Matthew

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Disaster Preparedness, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Safety

Rivers and lakes overflowing after a severe storm or hurricane hits. (UF/Ifas photo: Marisol Amador)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension is working closely with Florida’s emergency operation centers to provide emergency information and assistance to those in the path of Hurricane Matthew.

“The local UF/IFAS Extension office is a disaster response resource in every community in Florida,” said Angie Lindsey, assistant professor of family, youth and community sciences. Lindsey is the UF/IFAS point of contact for the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), a national organization of Extension educators who work to prepare communities for disasters.

Lindsey, who works with the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources, helps UF/IFAS Extension agents develop disaster response tools and further collaboration between agents and local officials.

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UF/IFAS Everglades REC offers free plant workshop to middle, high school teachers on Sept. 27

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Departments, Environment, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests, RECs

Arabidopsis trials in the lab as part of Ana Lisa Paul's plants in space research program.  Photo taken 01/29/16.

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.

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What’s easier: Turning off water indoors or outside?

Topic(s): Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Landscaping

Setting the sprinkler head for an irrigation system. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Apparently, it’s more convenient to Florida residents to save water while brushing their teeth than to cut back on lawn irrigation, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension report.

Alexa Lamm, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication and Extension specialist, surveyed 932 people deemed to be high-water users in Orlando, Tampa/Sarasota and Miami/Fort Lauderdale.

Respondents were asked how often they engage in water-related behaviors. Among the results, 68 percent saved water when brushing their teeth, but only 29 percent reduced irrigating their lawns in the summer, according to the document, http://bit.ly/2bjQGSm.

To put this data into context, about 50 percent of Floridians’ daily water use is for outdoor purposes, such as landscape irrigation, according to the South Florida Water Management District. The 50 percent figure is 20 percent more than the national average, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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UF/IFAS Extension shows horse owners that the grass can be greener

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Livestock

before and after pasture LARGE

AUGUSTINE, Fla. — When Diane Musil put in three acres of grazing pasture for her horses five years ago, she had more grass than she could mow. But over time, weeds began to take over, and bald patches appeared. The pasture was not the lush, green plot it used to be.

Unsure of how to deal with the problem, Musil decided to pull out all the weeds by hand — backbreaking work. “I hand-weeded all three acres,” she said. “It took me six weeks.”

Musil knew she needed expert help, so she signed up for the weed management seminar offered by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension St. Johns County. There she learned how to properly use chemical treatments to target weeds choking out her pasture. This gave her the confidence to buy a sprayer and start applying the treatments herself.

A few weeks later, Tim Wilson, director of UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County, stopped by to see how her pasture was progressing. Soil samples revealed that the grass was under-fertilized, so he walked Musil through the process of adding nutrients to the soil.

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UF/IFAS expert has five tips to reduce mosquitoes around your home

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, RECs

A water-filled tank of a bromeliad, in which mosquito immatures stages, including A. albopictus, occur. Photo by Dr. Phil Lounibos.

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AUGUSTINE, Fla. — During Florida’s wet summers, your backyard or patio area can easily become a breeding area for container mosquitoes, said Jim DeValerio, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension horticulture agent. Though there are no reports that mosquitoes are transmitting the Zika virus in Florida, residents should still take measures to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding in their home landscapes, he said.

Here are DeValerio’s five tips homeowners can use to reduce mosquitoes on their properties.

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