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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.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Long before she joined the Jackson County 4-H Livestock Club, Caitlin Caudill liked to pretend she was a veterinarian, treating her teddy bear or stuffed cow for a make-believe illness or injury. When she turned 11 and got her first real cow—a Charolais heifer—she already had a passion for the livestock industry and caring for animals.
That passion was on full display when Caudill, now 15, recently competed to become the new Florida junior beef ambassador.
To be selected, Caudill had to demonstrate both her public speaking skills and knowledge of the beef industry. The day-long competition included a mock media interview, a product promotion scenario and a presentation to group of would-be consumers.
“I was super nervous at the beginning, but then when I began the competition, my nerves went away because I knew I had to be confident in myself,” Caudill said. “I was so excited when I won!”
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.
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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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.
LIVE OAK, Fla. — During most of this last year, Suwannee County farmer Sammy Starling never had to guess when he did—or didn’t—need to water his corn. With a new smart-agriculture technology, he could access soil moisture readings right from his phone, with updates every three hours.
This information helped Starling determine when to turn on the irrigation system and when to skip a cycle. “It’s a window to the underground world,” he said.
Thanks to a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension experimental trial, Starling was one of three farmers in the Suwannee River Valley who got the chance to test drive this water-saving technology.
By showing farmers how to use and benefit from these sensors, the trial encouraged producers to adopt best management practices (BMPs) set out by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said Patrick Troy, regional specialized agent in row crops who has spearheaded the initiative.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida beekeepers are concerned after 2.5 million bees that were killed during an aerial spraying with Naled/Dibrom for Zika-carrying mosquitoes in Dorchester County, S.C. Now, Floridians are looking for ways to avoid the same tragedy. Florida is the third-largest beekeeping state in the nation.
Researchers are not surprised that the South Carolina incident has Florida beekeepers worried, said Fred Fishel, professor of agronomy and director of the Pesticide Information Office.
“With the Zika cases in south Florida, and now that scientists have identified mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, we would expect beekeepers to be concerned about increased pesticide application,” Fishel said. “But, registered beekeepers should be notified before an application of pesticides. That gives them time to protect their bees while spraying is conducted.”
There are pesticides that will not harm bees, but will kill mosquitoes, says William Kern, associate professor of urban entomology at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center.
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.
Scott Walker working with a soil moisture sensor at the peanut farm.
Who: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Escambia County will host an Irrigation and Crop Management Field Day on Sept. 13.
What: Farmers interested in irrigation systems, crop consultants, and representatives from educational and government agencies are invited to participate.
Attendees will learn how soil moisture sensors and UF/IFAS-developed mobile apps can help farmers irrigate crops more precisely and efficiently. Soil moisture sensors are in-ground devices that detect how much water is in the soil and alert the user to real-time watering needs.
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 13
Where: Sam and Scott Walker’s Farm
Intersection of Highway 99 and Melvin Road,
Oak Grove, FL 32568
The farm is located about ¾ miles south of Oak Grove Baptist Church, 2600 North Highway 99, McDavid, FL 32568
Contact: Libbie Johnson, 850-475-5230, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Mulvaney, 850-382-5221, email@example.com
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.