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Brazilian Peppertree, Hemp Among Top UF/IFAS Stories for 2019

A year of impactful teaching, research and outreach meant UF/IFAS was frequently in the headlines in 2019. Here is a round-up of some of the biggest stories from this year.

Brazilian peppertree

Brazilian peppertree is an invasive plant that threatens natural areas in Florida, including the Everglades. This year, UF/IFAS scientists released Brazilian peppertree thrips, the first biological control insect released in Florida for the invasive plant. Over time, these tiny insects will decrease the need for land managers and ranch owners to use heavy machines and chemicals to control the invasive tree. The thrips have been studied for more than 15 years leading up to their release.

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University of Florida to release biocontrol against Florida’s most serious invasive Brazilian peppertree

Water quality

Algae blooms and other environmental concerns have been top of mind for many Floridians. From state government to local county Extension programs, UF/IFAS faculty have been bringing science to the important and complex issue of water quality in Florida this year.

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Gov. DeSantis Appoints UF’s Tom Frazer as Chief Science Officer

As Florida grows, Low-Impact Development could offer protection for waterways

Fertilizer education creates behavior change and protects local waterways

New Fertilizer Technology May Help Farmers Reduce Nitrogen Load

Trade impacts on agriculture

With trade agreements in the news, UF/IFAS scientists reported research showing potential effects of U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables from Mexico on Florida’s agricultural industry, if current trends hold. These findings can inform future trade policies.

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Potential Economic Impacts in Florida of Increased Imports of Mexican Fruits and Vegetables

Hunger

As researchers learn more about hunger on college campuses and elsewhere, institutions such as the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) have stepped up to respond to the needs of students and other community members.

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UF Study: Hunger and Food Security May Impact College Student Health and Academic Performance

UF Expands the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry on Campus

UF Students Host “Day of Service” Event to Combat Global Food Insecurity

Lethal bronzing

The disease known as lethal bronzing is making its way steadily through South Florida’s palm tree population. Brian Bahder, assistant professor of entomology at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, is leading a team of researchers to develop management strategies for the disease along the roadways and in nurseries which are most susceptible to the disease.

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UF/IFAS Researchers Take Lethal Bronzing Research to the Masses

Citrus nutrition

Florida’s citrus growers can soon get additional help in managing citrus greening through the newly developed UF/IFAS Citrus Nutrition Program started this year. The basis for the program is to improve the overall health and productivity of citrus groves affected by citrus greening by refining production practices; in particular, adjusting fertilization programs. So far, the program has been popular with growers.

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New UF/IFAS Kits to Help Citrus Growers

Fourth Citrus Nutrition Workshop Added, Prompted by Strong Grower Interest

Citrus soil health an important part of overall tree health

Hemp

The UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project passed a critical milestone toward understanding the potential of growing hemp throughout Florida. Hemp was planted at several research sites across the state, the first hemp plants to be legally grown in the state since the 1950s. Researchers are looking to identify hemp varieties suitable for Florida, develop industrial hemp management practices for growing hemp in the state’s diverse growing environments and also assess the risk of hemp being an invasive plant.

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Industrial hemp growing in Florida for first time in decades: University of Florida pilot project plants seeds for new Florida crop

Focus on Student Experience

UF/IFAS CALS introduced several initiatives this year to enhance student learning experiences, from a new student mentorship program for faculty to online gardening classes. These efforts give students more hands-on, individualized learning opportunities.

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UF/IFAS CALS Launches Academy to Promote a Culture of Effective Mentoring

UF Breaks Ground on New Graduate Student Housing in Immokalee

UF’s Field & Fork Program, Gator Dining Services Introduce Aeroponic Tower Gardens® to Student Learning Experience

UF Offers Online Gardening Class; Includes Gardening Kits and a 24/7 GardenCam

Hurricanes: Recovery and a Close Brush

In 2019, the Florida Panhandle was still recovering from Hurricane Michael, a category 5 storm that wreaked havoc in the region in late 2018. Hurricane Dorian had residents and industries on Florida’s east coast worried this year, though the storm remained off the coast and left the region relatively unscathed. In both storms, UF/IFAS faculty and staff demonstrated the value of the institution to communities impacted by these natural disasters.

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A Year after Hurricane Michael, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County is Open for Business

Eight Months Later, Reflecting on Hurricane Michael and UF/IFAS Extension’s Role in Recovery

Hurricane Michael continues to hamper Georgia, Florida agriculture

Dorian’s Swing Threatens 770,000 Acres of Ag Land in Florida East Coast Counties

UF/IFAS-developed Ryegrass Donated to Panhandle Ranchers After Hurricane Michael

Agricultural Technology

From detecting the Asian citrus psyllid with artificial intelligence to preventing disease with tractor-drawn UV-lamps, UF/IFAS researchers worked hard this year to come up with innovative technological solutions to some of agriculture’s biggest challenges.

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Cloud-Based Software Helps Farmers on the Ground

AI Could Help Citrus Growers Find, Detect Dangerous Psyllids

Drone Images Can Accurately Find, Count Citrus Trees

It Could Be Lights Out for Some Strawberry Diseases and Pests

UF/IFAS Researchers: Robots May Run Future Farms

UAV-based Remote Sensing Can Help Avocado Growers by Detecting Asymptomatic Pathogen

Horticultural Therapy

Working in the garden is good for the body and the mind. That’s the idea behind new horticultural therapy education programs and classes offered through UF/IFAS CALS.

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UF Offers New Horticultural Therapy Course with Certificate Program to Follow

Veterans Gain Stress Reduction Techniques through Gardening

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