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IFAS News

University of Florida

Agricultural systems modeling group to hold meetings Feb. 23-28 at UF

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Environment, Weather
Jim Jones

Jim Jones

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In recent years, computer technology has begun to help agricultural producers solve dilemmas as old as farming itself — predicting future crop yields, supplies and prices — using sophisticated models that account for weather patterns, soil types, crop management practices and other factors.

It’s known as agricultural systems modeling, and next week, experts in this emerging field will converge on the University of Florida campus to discuss their latest findings at two meetings held by the leading professional organization in the field, the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Program, or AgMIP.

The first event, held Feb. 23-25, will focus on ways that models can account for the potential effects of global climate change on pest and disease pressures, said Jim Jones, a distinguished professor emeritus with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and one of AgMIP’s four co-principal investigators.

The second event, held Feb. 25-28, is an AgMIP global annual workshop and will feature a wide-ranging slate of activities related to agricultural systems modeling, including discussions and presentations on climate change, specific crops, economics and computer technology, he said.

AgMIP’s overall mission, Jones said, is to help scientists and producers understand how agricultural production systems should evolve to ensure food security under variable and changing climate conditions, and how modeling can guide efforts to develop more resilient and sustainable farming systems.

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UF/IFAS beef cattle specialist receives national Extension award

Topic(s): Extension, Honors and Appointments, Livestock

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences beef cattle specialist has received the Southern Section Extension Award given by the American Society of Animal Science.

Matt Hersom, an associate professor in animal sciences and an Extension beef cattle faculty member won the award Feb. 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. The award was given in collaboration with the award sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim, Vetmedica Division.

To be eligible for the award, scientists must be southern region Extension specialists and make an outstanding and noteworthy contribution in animal science in beef cattle, swine, sheep, horses, goats, 4-H livestock or meats. The nomination was based on Hersom’s Extension accomplishments.

“I think what this award represents to me is acknowledgement from my peers of the quality of the Extension programs we’re doing here in the state of Florida,” Hersom said. “I think the great thing about Extension is that I won the award, but I don’t do my Extension programs by myself. I’ve had some great mentors, some great people and great specialists here in the department and county faculty throughout the state of Florida that have helped me along the way.”

Hersom has been a part of the American Society of Animal Science since he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Iowa State University in 1995. He also earned a master’s degree in animal nutrition from Iowa State, with a focus on beef cattle grazing systems, and a doctorate in animal nutrition from Oklahoma State University. There, he focused on the effect of grazing systems on feedlot performance.

From day-to-day, Hersom fields calls from county faculty and producers and researches the effects of feeding strategies on beef cattle production. His UF/IFAS appointment is 60 percent Extension and 40percent research, but how much time he spends in each area depends on the week and the day, Hersom said.

“My favorite part about being an Extension specialist is being able to get out and interact with our clientele,” Hersom said. “My wife tells me ‘I can always tell when you come back from an Extension program because you’re in a good mood.’ I get a lot of job satisfaction out of delivering information and interacting with county faculty and clientele. I get the pleasure of working with different people form UF/IFAS employees to the farmer who has 10 cows to the manager of a 10,000-cow operation.”

Hersom also leads the Florida Beef Cattle Short Course program, the longest-running beef cattle short course program in the country and works with the Beef Quality Assurance program, an educational program for producers, teaching best management practices for animal production to make products safe, wholesome and nutritious. He has been working as an Extension specialist with UF/IFAS since January 2004.

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Cutline: Matt Hersom, an associate professor in animal sciences and an Extension beef cattle faculty member, has won the Southern Section Extension Award given by the American Society of Animal Science.

Credit: UF/IFAS file photo.

By Rachel LaVigna, 352-294-3302, rlavigna@ifas.ufl.edu

Source: Matt Hersom, 352-392-2390, hersom@ufl.edu

 

 

UF/IFAS awards 17 young faculty with research seed money

Topic(s): Announcements, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Seventeen young scientists at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have earned grants from the Dean for Research office, thanks to their innovative proposals addressing critical agriculture and natural resources issues that impact farm production and consumer behavior.

UF/IFAS scientists will examine a wide range of topics, including ways to detect E.coli in meat to herbicide resistance to developing better-tasting tomato products and why students don’t eat their school-provided lunches.

“The future of UF/IFAS and UF is driven by the young faculty that join us to build their careers and impact our world through their research, teaching, and extension efforts,” said Jackie Burns, dean of research at UF/IFAS and director of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station. “This year the IFAS Dean for Research office, in partnership with the senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and the vice president for research, has once again implemented an Early Career Scientist Seed Funding program to facilitate development of new faculty research, jumpstart their research programs and provide a platform for their future success.”

Burns called this year’s selection “highly competitive,” with 26 early career scientists presenting excellent proposals. After a rigorous review by a panel of UF/IFAS scientists, Burns announced the awards.

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12 CALS alumni recognized for entrepreneurship

Topic(s): Announcements, CALS, Honors and Appointments

CALS breakfast reception for the Gator 100 alumni.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A creator of organic fertilizers, an inventor of tasty seasonings and a wealth-management advisor are just three of 12 alumni of the University of Florida’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences honored Feb. 6 for their entrepreneurial efforts.

UF recognized each of them for leading one of the 100 fastest-growing, most innovative and emerging companies at the inaugural Gator100 Awards at UF’s Reitz Union Grand Ballroom in a celebration organized by the Warrington College of Business Administration’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Ernst & Young calculated each company’s compound annual growth rate over the past three years to generate the ranking.

The honorees, their entrepreneurial efforts and their CALS degrees are listed in alphabetical order, by last name:

 

  • Nate and Sarah Bazinet; founders of Sunshine Plumbing and Gas; Micanopy, Florida. In 2003, Nate earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell science, and Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in wildlife ecology and animal sciences. They founded Sunshine Plumbing and Gas in 2009. Prior to launching Sunshine Plumbing and Gas, Nate worked part-time in the plumbing industry while also working at the UF Cytogenic Lab, and Sarah was working as a veterinary technician and contemplating a career as a veterinarian. Together, they have grown the company to more than 30 employees and a service area reaching across central Florida from multiple regional offices.
  • Chad Buckmaster; CEO of Processing Point; Carlsbad, California. Buckmaster earned a bachelor’s degree in food and resource economics in 2002. Processing Point is a leading provider of innovative solutions for small businesses nationwide. Products range from cutting-edge, cloud-based timekeeping software to the latest in mobile payment processing and point-of-sale solutions. San Diego Business Journal named Buckmaster a 2014 finalist for its “Most Admired CEO” award.
  • William “Bill” Hamm Jr.; founder and CEO of Independent Financial Partners; Tampa, Florida. Hamm earned a bachelor’s degree in food and resource economics in 1979. He founded William E. Hamm and Associates, Inc. in 1995 and formed IFP in 2000. IFP consists of a national network of more than 500 advisors in 38 states, providing comprehensive wealth management services with $35 billion in assets under advisement.
  • Robert “Mike” Lester Jr.; founder and CEO of Talon Wealth Management; The Villages, Florida. Lester earned a bachelor’s degree in food and resource economics in 1996. He founded Epic Financial Group in 1998 and has grown it to a multimillion dollar financial service company. He then partnered with ING Financial Partners to provide independent investment services and in 2012, he rebranded his branch offices as Talon Wealth Management to continue providing independent investment advice and services.

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UF/IFAS awarded funding to fight citrus greening

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Economics, IFAS, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have been awarded more than $13.4 million for four studies to help fight citrus greening, the devastating disease that threatens Florida’s $10 billion citrus industry.

The projects are funded through the Specialty Crop Initiative Citrus Disease Research and Education (CDRE) program, which is made available through the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill.

The following UF/IFAS research projects were funded:

  • $4.6 million to develop an environmentally safe, systematic bacteriacide that can be applied with conventional spray or drench technology to reduce or eliminate pathogens in citrus trees. The goal is to recover fruit production in greening-affected orchards.
  • $3.4 million to support ways to provide steam-generated treatments as an immediate, short-term solution to sustain productivity in HLB-affected trees, while reducing adverse effects on crop yield and fruit quality.
  • $3.3 million to try to develop an HLB-resistant citrus cultivar.
  • $2.9 million target the use of field trials in Florida to develop and effective microbial treatment for citrus plants affected by HLB.
  • UF/IFAS is also partnering with the University of California-Davis on a $4.6-million grant that focuses on using new approaches to manage the Asian citrus psyllid, will assess the economic benefits of these approaches and will develop new outreach information.

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UF/IFAS expert to help Australians try to control diseases transmitted by invasive mosquitoes

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Pests

LOUNIBOS 020915

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A University of Florida scientist recognized as a global expert on invasive mosquitoes will head to Australia in March to work with researchers to combat public health threats common to Florida and Queensland, Australia, such as chikungunya and dengue fever.

Phil Lounibos, an entomology professor at UF/IFAS’ Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant to give a series of lectures and to host seminars Down Under.

The mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya and dengue fever to humans are Aedes aegypti – sometimes referred to as the yellow fever mosquito ─ and Aedes albopictussometimes called the Asian tiger mosquito. Aedes aegypti, native to Africa, has lived in eastern Australia for more than 150 years, after arriving on sailing vessels, but is becoming less of a public health threat in parts of Queensland thanks to a novel experimental control method.

Aedes albopictus successfully colonized Florida more than 30 years ago but has not yet established itself in mainland Australia. Lounibos, a leading expert on the ecology of these two mosquito species, will bring his research-based knowledge, which has helped explain how the Asian tiger reduced the range and abundance of the yellow fever mosquito in Florida.

“We hope collaboration and knowledge from studying interactions between these species in Florida will help Australian scientists limit consequences from a feared invasion by the Asian Tiger Mosquito from the Torres Strait,” he said. The Torres Strait lies between mainland Australia and New Guinea.

The program will also benefit Florida, where several mosquito control districts are considering releasing genetically modified yellow fever mosquitoes for dengue prevention. The Eliminate Dengue Program, based in Cairns, Australia, is pioneering a non-GMO genetic control technique that causes mosquitoes of this species to become dengue-resistant by mating with released mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia, a type of bacteria.

Because of their extensive coastlines ─ which makes both areas vulnerable to the arrival of exotic animals and plants on boats and ships ─ Florida and Queensland, Australia are threatened by many invasive species, including the two mosquito species that transmit dengue and chikungunya.

In the past few years, the lay public and scientists have shifted their interest in mosquito ecology from salt marsh mosquitoes ─ major pests of the densely populated coasts of both regions ─ to invasive mosquito vectors of arboviruses, such as dengue and chikungunya.

Outbreaks of dengue fever occur regularly in northern Queensland and occasionally in South Florida, and the establishment of chikungunya in the Caribbean in late 2013 led to at least 10 cases of local transmission of this virus n Florida in 2014, Lounibos said.

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Cutline: UF/IFAS entomology professor Phil Lounibos checks for larvae of the invasive Aedes albopictus in water-holding tires used for surveillance on the grounds of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach.

Credit: UF/IFAS file photo by Marisol Amador

By Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Phil Lounibos, 772-778-7200, ext. 146, lounibos@ufl.edu

Sticking with a healthy heart plan

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

4H youth learning about My Plate, healthy eating, and physical fitness.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Remember that New Year’s resolution to diet and exercise?

You can increase your odds of sticking to your weight-control plan by surrounding yourself with supportive people, setting realistic goals and logging your activities, a University of Florida expert says.

February is American Heart Month, a good time to learn more about cardiovascular diseases and how to stick with a weight-loss program. One in six people who try to fight the fat actually stay with their plans over a sustained period, said Anne Mathews, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and a registered dietician.

But there’s hope.

“Making any changes can be beneficial,” Mathews said. “Making changes can also be difficult. So if you’re thinking about making a change in your health behaviors, some of the things we know will help are to get help from a registered dietitian or a doctor, get help from the people around you ─ asking them to help keep you more active. Keep track of what you’re doing, such as how often you drink water and eat fruits and vegetables. Plan ahead and problem-solve any foreseen challenges such as a change in schedule. And recognize your successes.”

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Penn State agricultural economist to lead UF/IFAS food and resource economics

Topic(s): Announcements, Economics, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Spiro Stafanou

Spiro Stefanou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An agricultural economist who spent more than 30 years at Penn State has joined UF/IFAS as chairman of the Department of Food and Resource Economics.

Spiro Stefanou started Jan. 2 after being appointed by Jack Payne, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

“Dr. Stefanou brings national and global expertise in agricultural and resource economics to UF/IFAS,” Payne said. “He can help propel the department to new heights as we help solve myriad world food issues, including hunger.”

Stefanou took over for Professor Rod Clouser, who served as interim chair after Professor Ray Huffaker returned to teaching and research at UF/IFAS.

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UF/IFAS Extension working to help farmers and ranchers keep it all in the family with AgSave$ Program

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For Marianna farmer and rancher Ken Barton, the combination of business and family is more than just a balancing act – it is his livelihood.

Barton is 10 years away from retirement, and concerned about how he will hand over the reins of the family business he established in 1979 to his son and son-in-law.

“I think one of the things that kind of sticks out in my mind – what will I need to do to make sure that when I’m ready to retire – or simply have a smaller share and smaller responsibility – how do I leave that to my children without a huge tax burden on them or me?” Barton asked recently. He owns 260 acres and leases another 1,500 to grow row crops and raise cattle. “That’s my concern  ─ that we can transfer that farm and those assets to the next generation without hidden things – things that we’re not aware of that could cause us the most problems.”

Many Florida farming and ranching families face that same question, and that’s where the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Extension program, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Department of Financial Services, are stepping up with a new take on the 6-year-old Florida Saves program. It’s called Agriculture Saves ─  or AgSave$ ─ and it is designed to help farmers and ranchers make that transition from one generation to the next. (more …)

Michael Gutter named new Associate Dean and State Program Leader for 4-H Youth Development, Families and Communities

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Announcements, Departments, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Gutter

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Dean and Director for Extension Nick Place announced Tuesday that Professor Michael Gutter has been promoted to associate dean and state program leader for 4-H Youth Development, Families and Communities within the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)

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