UF/IFAS FRED faculty win EPAF awards

epaf awards

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty in the food and resource economics department have each been selected for UF/IFAS Extension Professional and Enhancement awards.  These awards highlight exceptional UF/IFAS Extension programming, and earn faculty additional funding and program support.

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Tatiana Borisova

Tatiana Borisova, associate professor and Extension specialist, has been selected for the Wells Fargo Extension Professional Award and Program Enhancement Grant, which recognizes a proposed educational program that responds to a public policy issue.

Borisova, who specializes in water economics and policy, is interested in educating Floridians about water resource management.

“In recent years, changes to water resource laws and regulations have rapidly accelerated in Florida and the U.S.,” said Borisova. “Meanwhile, public knowledge of water laws and regulations is limited. Public participation is vital for development and implementation of water resource management programs.”

Borisova added, “a large segment of the Florida public—Spanish-speaking residents—still have limited access to UF/IFAS Extension information related to water management.” Her proposed program, “Statewide Water Policy Extension Program for Florida’s English- and Spanish-Speaking Audiences,” aims to address this gap.

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Edward “Gilly” Evans

Edward ‘Gilly” Evans, a professor at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida, has been selected for the Seymour Goldweber Extension Professional and Enhancement Award, which recognizes excellence in on-going educational programing.

Evans’ program teaches growers how to use online software that helps them become more financially literate and market-savvy when selling their product or adopting alternative crops.

“This program is aimed at enhancing the long-term profitability and sustainability of agriculture in Florida by increasing grower’s knowledge of a wide range of new and emerging crop industries, and improving the growers’ skills and ability to make sound business decisions,” Evans said.

For example, “One grower has recently diversified his operation and is now planting pitaya (dragon fruit). This grower could see his earning increase from $500 per acre to about $10,000 per acre,” Evans explained.

Borisova and Evans will be recognized for their achievements September 29 at the Extension Professional Associations of Florida conference in Daytona Beach, Florida.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Tatiana Borisova, 352-294-7666, tborisova@ufl.edu

Edward “Gilly” Evans, 786-217-9263, eaevans@ufl.edu

Seahorse Key lighthouse

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Santa Fe College have teamed up to manage the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory, an off-shore facility in the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.

“This collaboration across our campus and between UF and Santa Fe College will increase our capacity for research, Extension and teaching on the Nature Coast,” said Micheal Allen, director of the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, a research unit located in Cedar Key, Florida. “Our combined efforts will enhance UF’s impact on the local community and its natural resources.”

Seahorse Key is home to a laboratory, marine specimen collection and a pre-Civil War era lighthouse, which has a bunkhouse with 26 beds for overnight stays. The island is also a field site for snake and bird research, Allen said.

“Seahorse Key is three miles from the island of Cedar Key, so it’s relatively remote. This natural, rustic environment provides a unique educational experience for school groups and visiting college students,” said Allen. “On the other hand, the Nature Coast Biological Station will provide on-shore, modern amenities and equipment for marine research and teaching. Together, the two facilities will offer the best of both worlds.”

Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory continues to welcome UF and Santa Fe College faculty and students, as well as people from all Florida and out-of-state institutions, said Allen.

UF/IFAS is outlining ways to improve and update the island’s operations, Allen said. There are plans to bring Internet service to the facility, upgrade the laboratory and switch the island’s power source from propane to solar power, he said.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Micheal Allen, 352-273-3624, msal@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS photo by Tyler Jones

We Need Your Advice!

we need your advice

Florida Extension is a partnership between the University of Florida and Florida A&M University to improve the quality of life for people like you through education. In the coming decade, decisions will be made by Florida Extension that influence you and your community.

We invite you to participate in our Community Input Survey as a way to give your opinions about certain issues that may impact these decisions. The focus of this survey is your own community – where you live, shop, work and play.

The survey runs September 8 through December 31, 2016. The results of the survey will be available in spring 2017.

Please share this survey link with your family, friends, and coworkers. We look forward to hearing from all of you.

junior beef

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!”

Participating in 4-H public speaking activities helped her feel more comfortable in front of a crowd, Caudill said. “4-H has also strengthened my communication skills to where I am able to carry on a conversation with people and communicate more adequately, which is very important when you are promoting a product to customers,” she added.

“Caitlin is a very active 4-H member,” said Angel Granger, 4-H agent for UF/IFAS Extension Jackson County.  Caudill joined Walton County 4-H in 2011 and transferred to Jackson County 4-H in 2014. She serves as vice-president for the Jackson County 4-H Livestock Club and as president of the Jackson County 4-H Youth Council.

In addition to these duties, Caudill regularly shows cattle and participates in livestock, poultry and meat judging. She currently cares for 10 Charolais cattle. “Each cow has its own name and personality, and they are truly my pride and joy,” she said.

As Florida junior beef ambassador, Caudill will represent the state’s beef industry at various events, such as the Jackson County Fair. “My main goal is to be the spokesperson for the industry and promote it in a positive manner. I also have the opportunity to write for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Magazine,” she said.

Caudill will make her first appearance as Florida junior beef ambassador September 15 to 18 at the Southern Women’s Show in Orlando, Florida.

After high school, Caudill hopes to attend the University of Florida to study animal science. She then plans to go on to the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and become a large animal veterinarian. “I want to help farmers and ranchers take care of their animals because these are the people who have helped me become who I am today. I would also love to be the commissioner of agriculture for the state of Florida one day,” she said.

“I am very proud of Caitlin and all she has accomplished,” said Stacey Warden, leader of the 4-H Jackson County Livestock Club. “We take a lot of pride that she will be representing Jackson County and Florida in this program.”

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Angel Granger, 850-482-9620, amgranger@ufl.edu

Stacey Warden, 850-693-3275, cntrydenise@yahoo.com

Photo courtesy of Caitlin Caudill

soil moisture sensors patrick troy

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.

Starting in November 2015, Troy began supplying participating farmers with soil moisture sensors and teaching them how to use the devices and interpret data. With these data, farmers could make more informed decisions about when and how much to water their crops. Proper timing and rates ultimately save water, Troy explained.

Commercial soil moisture sensors are far more sophisticated and expensive than those intended for home landscapes, Troy said, which is why they aren’t more widely used. Cost share helps get these tools into more growers’ fields, but short term benefits (including fuel savings and yield) provide a quick payback.

On average, the three farmers in the trial saved about eight percent in water expenditures due to the sensors, said Troy. With 142,000 acres of irrigated land in the Suwannee River Valley, wider adoption of this technology could make a big impact on the region, he added.

“Our early return on water efficiency and yield boost suggests more work is needed to see how many farmers will implement water- and resource-saving strategies,” said Troy. “We’ve heard from users that they are very excited about the technology and agree that it has potential.”

However, adopting BMPs now means that these farms are getting ahead of the game, said Troy. “We can’t manage what is not monitored. Soil moisture sensors are one tool that producers can use to document their water usage and manage their impact on this valuable resource,” he said.

The program will continue next year, and the three farmers are already on board, Troy said.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: Patrick Troy, (386) 362-1725 ext. 112, ptroy@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS photo by Josh Wickham

Mike Mulvaney and Sam and Scott Walker working with irrigation system in a peanut field.

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, libbiej@ufl.edu

Mike Mulvaney, 850-382-5221, m.mulvaney@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS photo by Libbie Johnson

tallahassee sciences fest

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.

UF/IFAS activities will include:

  • Which Plant Pathogen are You?: Personality quiz
  • Real-time, hands-on detection of plant pathogens
  • Hands-on session on Ice-nucleating bacteria
  • Spore dispersal demonstration
  • Insect Collections

When:   10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 10

Where:   Lake Ella, 1641 North Monroe, Tallahassee, FL

For more information, visit http://www.tallahasseesciencefestival.org

Contact: Charlene Cupp Kinch, 850-875-7101, accupp@ufl.edu

tailgating 2

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Kara Croft, 16, noticed that all the other contestants at her district 4-H Tailgating Contest were using lighter fluid to start their grills, she got nervous. The lighter fluid produced big flames, while the paper charcoal-starter she used created a much smaller flame. But she stuck to her plan, reminding herself that paper starters, unlike lighter fluid, don’t impact the taste of grilled meat.

Croft, who is a Suwannee County 4-H member, ended up cooking the winning steak, which the judges said was both tender and flavorful. Her win qualified her for the State Championship 4-H Tailgating Contest, where she and 29 other youth will demonstrate mastery of cooking safety and grilling techniques.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will host the contest on September 10 at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center on the UF campus. The Straughn Center is located at 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611. Check-in begins at 8 a.m., and grilling starts at 9 a.m. Contestants have 2 ½ hours to prepare and submit their meat for judging.

Winn Dixie Supermarkets and its supplier, National Beef, as well as Sonny’s BBQ, have sponsored the event. First and second place winners in each category will received $1,500 and $1,000 scholarship prizes toward tuition at a public university, said Chad Carr, UF/IFAS Extension meat specialist, associate professor of animal sciences and co-organizer of the event.

Attendees can compete in one of four categories: beef, pork, poultry or seafood. When their protein arrives at the judge’s table, it will be evaluated on more than taste and texture, said Carr. “They need to show creativity. If someone cooks a filet and it’s tender, that’s no surprise. But if someone cooks a tender chuck steak, that’s quite an accomplishment,” he said.

However, “participants will be assessed not only on their finished product, but also on their knowledge of their recipe, as well as food and fire safety,” Carr said.

Before she started practicing for the competition, Croft said she didn’t know much about how to stay safe while grilling. “I didn’t know how different temperatures affected how well-done a steak is, or that meat has to be stored below a certain temperature to prevent bacterial growth,” she said.

The day of the competition, judges will verify that all participants’ proteins are covered and stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit before cooking and that they have reached safe internal temperatures after they come off the grill.

“A cooking contest like this teaches many life skills, such as knowing how to buy and prepare a meal safely and incorporating lean protein into the diet,” said Brian Estevez, 4-H agent with UF/IFAS Extension Suwannee County and co-organizer of the event. The Tailgating Contest also introduces 4-H members to food and animal sciences, as well as possible careers in these fields, he explained.

One skill that Croft has been working on is becoming more comfortable cooking in front of other people—especially people who are judging her food. “I’ve learned a lot about performing under pressure,” she said.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Chad Carr, 352-392-1981, chadcarr@ufl.edu

Brian Estevez, 386-362-2771, bestevez@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

UF/IFAS Extension team wins national award

drip irrigation school

LIVE OAK, Fla. — The National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) has recognized Mace Bauer, agriculture agent with University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Columbia County, for excellence in sustainability education aimed at young, beginning or small-scale producers.

Bauer and a team of UF/IFAS Extension faculty received this national award, sponsored by Farm Credit, for the annual Drip Irrigation School, a program that helps farmers adopt water-saving technologies.

“Drip irrigation allows farmers to micromanage the amount of water and fertilizer they use on their crops,” said Bauer. Unlike overhead sprayers, which broadcast water over an entire field, drip irrigation targets the plant’s root zone, the part of the soil where the plant can absorb water and nutrients, Bauer said.

This precise approach lets farmers use less resources without sacrificing the quality of their crops. Drip irrigation also helps prevent fungal diseases, reducing the need for chemical treatments, Bauer said.

However, as with any unfamiliar technology, there is a learning curve.

“Many small and beginning farmers want to grow produce using drip irrigation, and we want UF/IFAS Extension to be a source of expertise and instruction for these folks,” said Bauer. The Drip Irrigation School, is an opportunity for small and beginning farmers to get expert, hands-on training with irrigation systems and best management practices, he said.

In one field demonstration, Bob Hochmuth, director of the UF/IFAS Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center, where the school is held, and Dan Fenneman, Madison County Extension Director, add blue dye to irrigation water to illustrate how various irrigation systems disperse water differently through a cross-section of soil.

This dye test lets attendees see for themselves how water from drip irrigation stays where plants can access it. “The blue dye doesn’t lie,” Hochmuth likes to say.

Two years ago, John Ed Smith brought this demonstration back to blueberry growers in north Florida and Georgia, where he works as a horticulturalist with Michigan Blueberry Growers Association, a global blueberry marketer. Smith assists growers from Florida to North Carolina.

“I took what Bob taught me and got a lot of growers using a drip irrigation and soil moisture monitoring program,” Smith said. “When they see that blue dye test, that’s an eye-opener for them.” We found that a lot of blueberry growers were overwatering, which is wasteful and not environmentally sound.

About 30 of his growers have adopted the technology so far, Smith said. “It has certainly saved them both time and money. The impact can go beyond these growers because once somebody starts using it and sees good results, this can prompt neighboring growers to do the same,” he said.

While most attendees are from Florida, out-of-state participants or industry representatives like Smith aren’t uncommon at the Drip Irrigation School, said Hochmuth. “We did not envision that the program would continually attract a crowd each year, but we’ve had consistently high demand,” he said.

The UF/IFAS Drip Irrigation School is held each fall or winter and lasts for two days. Please contact Bob Hochmuth (386-362-1725 ext. 103; bobhoch@ufl.edu) for more information and to sign up.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Sources: Mace Bauer, 386-752-5384, mgbauer@ufl.edu

Bob Hochmuth, 386-362-1725 ext. 103; bobhoch@ufl.edu

John Ed Smith, 912-282-0492, jesmith@blueberries.com


sustainable ag

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will be hosting an upcoming sustainable agriculture networking and outreach event on Monday, September 19 from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Frog Song Organics (4317 NE U.S, Highway 301, Hawthorne, FL 32640) and Hawthorne Community Market (7040 U.S. Highway 301, Hawthorne, FL 32640).

To help  promote sustainable  agriculture  in  north central  Florida, UF/IFAS researchers and Extension  agents  have  been exploring  both the needs  of producers in  our region  and possible resources to help meet  those needs. This event, funded in part by a Southern SARE grant, will help them put their ideas into action by bringing north central Florida Extension agents and producers together to network with each other, discuss their needs and share their ideas to promote sustainable agriculture. The event is additionally sponsored by the UF/IFAS Field and Fork program and the UF/IFAS Small Farms team.

Please join us for an evening of on-farm learning, great food, and important discussion about the future of farming in north central Florida and how we can create a vibrant and useful network that will help us both address our challenges and  share opportunities.

The event will feature:

  • A farm tour exploring future trends for farming and marketing local food
  • A great dinner featuring local food
  • Updates on UF/IFAS resources for sustainable agriculture
  • A conversation about how to develop a network for farming in our region

Please check out our official registration page (http://bit.ly/AgKickoff ), website (http://agnetworkncfl.wixsite.com/home), and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/agnetworkncfl/) for more details and to register for the event. Registration is free! If you have any additional questions, please contact Katie Stofer at agnetworkncfl@gmail.com.

By: Nicole Taylor Baldwin, 954-257-0142, ntbaldwin@ufl.edu

Source: Katie Stofer, 352-474-2328, agnetworkncfl@gmail.com

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones