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IFAS News

University of Florida

New marketing help for smaller growers

Topic(s): Announcements, Economics, IFAS

Gainesville, Fla. – Small- and mid-sized growers often cite marketing as one of their greatest challenges. Yet, there never seems to be enough time or money to promote your products directly to those who may want to purchase them. Florida MarketMaker and Florida Food Connect are two resources managed by UF/IFAS that aim to help alleviate the burden of marketing for Florida’s growers. While Florida MarketMaker unites growers with potential markets throughout the state, Florida Food Connect is a tool that links schools with the local producers who can meet their needs.

Florida MarketMaker provides a free and simple, yet powerful, web-based search tool to connect with others across the food production and distribution chain. It is the largest and most in-depth food-related database of its kind, featuring a diverse community of more than 81,000 Florida businesses:  farmers/ranchers, fisheries, seafood dealers, farmers markets, food hubs, food pantries, processors/packers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, wineries, restaurants and other types of buyers.

Essentially, MarketMaker gives growers the power to create their own searchable websites, opening the door for a flood of buyers to discover them.

(more …)

Neighborhood designs can cut carbon emissions, electric costs

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Green Living, Research

Marl Hostetler-Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. Photo by Eric Zamora

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A big tree next to your house can do more than just save home-cooling costs, it will also cut carbon emissions, University of Florida researchers say.

Trees shade houses so that less energy is needed to cool them. But trees, especially older ones, also store and sequester carbon. Through photosynthesis, trees sequester ─ or capture ─ carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create energy for growth. This carbon is then stored in the tree as long as the tree remains alive. Trees store carbon in their leaves, branches, trunks, stems and roots.

Carbon dioxide is released through electricity use, home heating, waste and transportation, among other activities, said UF wildlife ecology and conservation professor Mark Hostetler. Through photosynthesis, trees can offset the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a house through carbon storage and sequestration.

With UF experts projecting the state to grow from 19 million now to 25 million in 2040, more land will be needed for housing, commercial and recreational uses. With a population increase comes more need for fossil fuels for heating, cooling and transportation and usually wildlife habitat losses, said Richard Vaughn, one of Hostetler’s former master’s students.

“While climate change mitigation takes place on many levels, I focused on the city level,” Vaughn said. “Cities are increasingly trying to offset carbon dioxide emissions, and new residential developments are a major source of such emissions. Our study offers a viable mitigation strategy that addresses many of these issues.”

With a goal of storing more carbon, Vaughn studied how to design conservation-friendly neighborhoods. Using tree data and a model, Vaughn examined how to design a subdivision for maximum tree carbon storage and sequestration.

(more …)

UF/IFAS researcher helps to unravel mysteries of fungi biodiversity

Topic(s): Environment, IFAS, Research, Uncategorized
Fungi can be found most anywhere.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Scientists have long tracked the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies, studied the longevity of the redwoods and know how the melting of the ice caps is affecting polar bears. But, until now, it has been difficult to keep tabs on the poor, humble fungi – another of the world’s lesser-known, yet diverse groups of multicellular living creatures. And new research shows there could be a new variety living in your backyard. (more …)

New UF/IFAS preeminent researcher’s paper earns international journal award

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS

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Arie Havelaar speaks at UF.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An international journal has chosen a paper by a University of Florida professor hired as part of UF’s Preeminence Plan as one of its best papers of 2014.

The paper, titled, “Impact of Acquired Immunity and Dose-Dependent Probability of Illness on Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment,” was published in Risk Analysis and co-authored by Arie Havelaar and Arno Swart.

It presents a study that urges the public health community to carefully take acquired immunity into account to improve estimates of the potential impacts of infectious diseases and to help prevent and manage them.

(more …)

UF/IFAS hires preeminent faculty to research food systems, food safety, epidemiology and more

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS

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Arie Havelaar

Jim Anderson (2)

James Anderson

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Karen Garrett

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It doesn’t take long to figure out that James Anderson is not prone to easy platitudes.

The new University of Florida faculty member sees the large, systemic picture with its endless combinations of factors, each with the ability to make a food system succeed or collapse.

He sees the world as a complex and dynamic web of international trade, markets, regulatory institutions, diverse cultures and values, technology, environmental and biophysical interactions.

As the former leader of the global program on fisheries and aquaculture at the World Bank with expertise in food and resource economics, he sees connections everywhere: “When you eat farmed tilapia in Miami it impacts peoples’ lives and habitat in China; when the U.S. uses corn to produce ethanol to run our cars, the price of tacos in Mexico goes up; and when fisheries are depleted in Somalia and their food distribution systems fails, we end up with pirates in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.”

That kind of shades-of-gray thinking made Anderson the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ choice to lead its new food systems research hub.

Additional faculty members hired for the effort are Arie Havelaar, a globally-known expert in the spread of microbial food-borne illness; and Kansas State University professor Karen Garrett, an expert in epidemiology and modeling technology impact on agricultural systems.

(more …)

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.

(more …)

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.

(more …)

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.

(more …)

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