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IFAS News

University of Florida

Survey shows Floridians have concerns about food safety, GMOs

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, IFAS, Nutrition, Safety

Graphics available by emailing bradbuck@ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While Floridians believe they do a fairly good job of keeping themselves safe from foodborne illnesses, they aren’t always clear about which foods, preparation techniques or cooking methods pose the biggest risks.

But they may be a bit overconfident.

A survey released by the University of Florida’s Public Issues in Education, PIE Center today shows that the state’s residents have many concerns about food safety and genetically modified foods but want to know more.

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Volusia 4-H members tour Kennedy Space Center with USDA official

Topic(s): 4-H, IFAS

4-H at KSC 120514 (a)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Five Volusia County 4-H youth spent the kind of day most children only dream about ─ touring the Kennedy Space Center and hoping to watch the launch of the Orion Spacecraft test flight.

The launch was delayed, but 4-H members Kaitlyn Jackson, 13; Jonathan Murdock, 13; AJ Seifert, 12; Joshua Lacey, 12, and Olivia Hall, 12, met with U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, a 4-H alumna from Georgia. Harden saw the Dec. 4 tour as a chance to connect with children in 4-H, which works very closely with USDA on youth engagement in agriculture.

“Youth programs like 4-H are key to getting children excited about the possibility of agriculture as a career,” Harden said. “NASA and USDA have complementary goals. It was great to see these 4-Hers learn more about NASA and how the space agency’s work connects agriculture and technology.”

Florida 4-H is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences program and works with USDA.

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UF/IFAS researchers build searchable database of non-native plants

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, New Technology, Uncategorized
The air potato vine is an  invasive species prohibited by the state

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ever wonder what that plant is in your yard that seems to be taking over? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a new website designed to help you figure it out.

Researchers with UF/IFAS’ Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants spent more than a year developing a searchable website and database to help Floridians assess problem— or just plain puzzling —non-native plants. (more …)

UF/IFAS scientists find potential biological control for avocado-ravaging disease

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Crops, Economics, Pests, RECs

redbay ambrosia beetle for Steve at UR 120114

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists believe they’ve found what could be the first biological control strategy against laurel wilt, a disease that threatens the state’s $54 million-a-year avocado industry.

Red ambrosia beetles bore holes into healthy avocado trees, bringing with them the pathogen that causes laurel wilt. Growers control the beetles that carry and spread laurel wilt by spraying insecticides on the trees, said Daniel Carrillo, an entomology research assistant professor at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.

But a team of researchers from the Tropical REC and the Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce have identified a potential biological control to use against redbay ambrosia beetles that could help growers use less insecticide.

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UF/IFAS process can convert human-generated waste into fuel in space

Topic(s): Biofuels, Environment, New Technology, Research

Pratap Pullammanappallil poses in his lab next to an anaerobic digester, which turns human waste into rocket fuel on October, 24, 2014.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Human waste may have a new use: sending NASA spacecraft from the moon back to Earth.

Until now, the waste has been collected to burn up on re-entry. What’s more, like so many other things developed for the space program, the process could well turn up on Earth, said Pratap Pullammanappallil, a University of Florida associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

“It could be used on campus or around town, or anywhere, to convert waste into fuel,” Pullammanappallil said.

In 2006, NASA began making plans to build an inhabited facility on the moon’s surface between 2019 and 2024. As part of NASA’s moon-base goal, the agency wanted to reduce the weight of spacecraft retuning to Earth. Historically, waste generated during spaceflight would not be used further. NASA stores it in containers until it’s loaded into space cargo vehicles that burn as they pass back through the Earth’s atmosphere. For future long-term missions, though, it would be impractical to bring all the stored waste back to Earth.

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Range Cattle Research and Education Center dedicates new education building

Topic(s): Announcements, Extension, IFAS, Livestock, RECs

Ona education building opening 112014 (4)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Cattlemen, Extension agents and other stakeholders soon can attend educational events at a new University of Florida facility dedicated to teaching how to manage the state’s grazing lands.

Officials dedicated and opened the Grazinglands Education Building Nov. 20 at UF’s Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Ona. At the same time, they recognized major donors and highlighted their “Campaign for Ona.”

About 6 million acres in Florida are used for grazing, said Range Cattle REC Director John Arthington.

The Grazinglands Education Building was made possible by more than $380,000 in private donations, state and federal money, Arthington said. The initial gift, a $150,000 grant awarded by the Mosaic Company Foundation, started the building’s construction. Most of the remaining funds came from the Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation, said Arthington, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member.

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University of Florida receives part of $7 million grant to empower women farmers in Africa

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, IFAS
An Ethiopian woman brings cow dung to market, which is sold as a fuel for fire. By Kathleen Colverson.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – When Kathleen Colverson works in places like Mozambique, Tanzania and Ethiopia, she watches as women farmers rise before dawn to gather firewood and water to make breakfast for their families.

They send the older children off to school, strap their babies to their backs, and leave the 5-year-olds to watch the toddlers while the women head into the field to raise greens, corn and beans, said Colverson, associate director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ international programs – also known as IFAS Global.

At harvest time, they pick the crop, dry it and then process it – all by hand.  If they are fortunate, they belong to a women’s co-op, which helps them sell their crops and any crafts they make at home by firelight after cooking dinner.

“I have tremendous admiration for women farmers because they are such strong, capable people,” said Colverson, whose work is part of UF/IFAS’ mission to help farmers throughout Florida, the U.S. and the world learn about the latest crops and growing techniques.

The United States Agency for International Development recently awarded UF/IFAS part of a $7 million grant to help extension provide better reach to African women farmers, which will contribute to higher household incomes and improved nutrition.  USAID administers this and other programs, providing economic and humanitarian aid in more than 80 countries worldwide. (more …)

UF/IFAS organic strawberry research featured in e-book

Topic(s): Announcements, Crops, Cultivars, Economics

Organic strawberry e-book Javier L. - Jan28,2014 - Citra - Focus grup assessment - Open field (45)-X2

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A new e-book from the University of Arkansas System features University of Florida scientists’ quest to establish a Florida organic strawberry industry.

A chapter titled “Organic open-field and high tunnel strawberry cropping systems for long-term viability of the southeastern industry” examines the participation of five Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty in the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative sponsored by the Walmart Foundation.

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‘Nudges’ try to help college students live healthier

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Nutrition

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Internet lessons and “tailored” text alerts can help some young people adopt healthier lifestyles, according to a national study aimed at preventing weight gain.

Although experimental group students didn’t gain or lose more weight than their control group counterparts, researchers remain hopeful the Internet-message approach can work because it helped college students progress from what researchers call the “contemplative stage” to the “action stage.”

An example of the contemplative stage would be someone who’s thinking about trying to eat fatty foods less frequently, but hasn’t taken action to do so, while someone at the action stage would choose to eat a salad, instead.

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