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Improving the Precision of Blueberry Frost Protection Irrigation

Private blueberry farm in Alachua County, frozen, frost, crops.
In Florida, early-ripening southern highbush blueberry cultivars allow growers to take advantage of high prices in the early market before other states can compete with higher volumes of berries sold at lower prices. That advantage comes with a vulnerability, however, because frosts can reduce gains. Florida growers rely on strategies like cold protection irrigation to reduce their risk of loss due to cold damage. This 9-page article by Tatiana Borisova, Tori Bradley, Mercy Olmstead, and Jeffrey Williamson describes a UF/IFAS study comparing precision cold protection irrigation to uniform cold protection irrigation to estimate the potential savings in diesel costs and water withdrawal volumes associated with the two practices and help protect Florida’s valuable and vulnerable blueberry harvest. Published by the Food and Resource Economics Department in November 2015.

The Social Organization of Honey Bees

Honey bee castes: a. drone (male), b. queen (reproductive female), and c. worker (non-reproductive female).
A honey bee colony is a superorganism, which means that together its members function like a single animal. Bees within a colony work together like the cells in a human body. They warm the colony in the winter by vibrating their wings to generate heat and cool it in the summer by ferrying in droplets of water and fanning air over them. Worker bees fan air into and out of the colony entrance in distinct inhalations and exhalations. Colonies reproduce by swarming to create new daughter colonies that in turn thermoregulate, breathe, and reproduce just as a single autonomous animal does. In three pages this fact sheet explains the intricate caste system and age-based division of labor that allows colonies of humankind’s best-loved pollinators to function and thrive. Written by Ashley N. Mortensen, Bryan Smith, and James D. Ellis and published by the Entomology and Nematology Department.

Encouraging Landscape Water Conservation Behaviors Series Overview #7: Personal and Social Norms of Florida Residents Who Use Irrigation in the Home Landscape

people talking about landscaping choices in Florida-friendly development
This 4-page fact sheet is the seventh publication in a series focusing on encouraging water conservation among Florida residents who use irrigation in their home landscapes. Extension educators create programs to encourage good irrigation practices and water conservation activities based on personal and social normative beliefs. To help in this goal, the authors examine personal and social norms of Florida residents who use irrigation in the home landscape and describe how Extension educators can capitalize on these positive norms to motivate Floridians to learn and use best water conservation practices. Written by Anil Kumar Chaudhary, Laura A. Warner, Alexa Lamm, Joy N. Rumble, and Randal Cantrell and published by the Agricultural Education and Communication Department.

Vida Saludable: Sitios web confiables

Laptop computer. Portable electronics, technology, computing. UF/IFAS Photo: Thomas Wright.The number of resources available online grows every day. Unfortunately, there are no regulations to ensure that the information on these websites is accurate. Older adults can readily access reliable information on the Internet by focusing on government and education sites. This 3-page fact sheet is a major revision of the Spanish version of FCS-8587, Healthy Living: Reliable Websites. It provides a list of trustworthy Internet sources related to nutrition, health, food safety, and general interest for older adults. Written by Linda B. Bobroff and Leigh Ann Martin, and published by the UF Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, revised November 2015.

Biology of the Hicatee: A Critically Endangered River Turtle of Belize

Juvenile hicatee inside shell of adult

The hicatee (Dermatemys mawii) is a Central American river turtle and one of the 25 most endangered turtle species in the world. Over-hunting for meat, eggs, and shells is driving the turtles toward extinction. This 3-page fact sheet about the hicatee includes its natural history, reproductive habits, and ecology and describes the international conservation efforts to save the fascinating but fast-disappearing turtle. Written by Venetia Briggs-Gonzalez, Nathan Schwartz, Rebecca G. Harvey, and Frank J. Mazzotti and published in November 2015 by the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department.

New Featured Creature publications added

The following publications are now available in EDIS:
Released November 9:

Released November 10:

These publications on EDIS are alternate versions of pages published first on the Featured Creatures website.

Frequently Asked Questions about Soil Moisture Sensor Irrigation Controllers (SMS)

Soil Moisture Sensor
A soil moisture sensor (SMS) is a device that detects how much moisture is in the soil and prevents an irrigation system from running when it is not needed. This 4-page fact sheet written by Paul Monaghan, Ondine Wells, Michael Dukes, Maria Morera, and Laura Warner and published by the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications explains how the technology functions as well as how to install, program, operate, and maintain an SMS for a money- and water-wise sustainable home landscape that’s lush and beautiful.

Frequently Asked Questions about Evapotranspiration (ET) Irrigation Controllers


Evapotranspiration is the amount of water that is released into the atmosphere through evaporation and plant transpiration. An evapotranspiration irrigation controller is a device that uses data about the landscape, the type of irrigation system, and local weather conditions to determine when and how much to irrigate. This 5-page fact sheet written by Paul Monaghan, Ondine Wells, Michael Dukes, Maria Morera, and Laura Warner and published by the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications explains how the technology functions as well as how to install, program, operate, and maintain an ET controller for a money- and water-wise sustainable home landscape that’s lush and beautiful.

Healthy Eating: Drink to Your Health

Strawberries, kiwi fruit, wheat grass, a banana, and a strawberry flavored milk shake. Fragaria, fruits, foods, red, sweets, healthy eating
Shakes and smoothies are a great and delicious way to incorporate more fruits and nutrients into your diet. This 2-page fact sheet is a major revision which provides a variety of refreshing and exciting smoothie and shake recipes as well as preparation tips. Written by Jennifer Hillan, Emily Minton, and Linda B. Bobroff, and published by the UF Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences. Original publication date: March 2004. Revised March 2012 and September 2015.

Eggcellent Adventures in Classroom Embryology

Figure 1. Children can learn the science of life through the 4-H Embryology Project. Credit: Marcus Boston, UF/IFAS
Eggcellent Adventures in Classroom Embryology is about learning through experience. In most cases, when a teacher signs up to teach chicken embryology in the classroom, the teacher sets up the incubator and the teacher and class wait for the eggs to hatch. That is the experience. But the daily plan of lessons in this guide make the chicken embryology experience an intracurricular experience. Through a series of activities, students can see firsthand how a chicken develops in an egg. Students will candle eggs to observe chick development, record data, make predictions, and conclude what they think the final outcome will be. The lessons in the guide follow Florida Sunshine State Standards and each contains an experience, instructions, background information, and reflection questions. The 31 lessons address math, language arts, and visual arts in addition to agricultural literacy and science concepts. Written by Shaina Bennett and Judy Levings and published by the 4-H Youth Development Program, October 2015.

Guidelines for Purchasing and Using Commercial Natural Enemies and Biopesticides in North America

Green lacewing adult
This guide provides assistance in selecting, purchasing, and using commercially available natural enemies and biopesticides for managing pest problems. The guide assists in the identification of pests by habitat and lists types of natural enemies (parasitic nematodes, predatory mites, predatory insects, and parasitic wasps) and biopesticides available to manage these pests. Scientific and product names are provided both for insect and mite natural enemies and for some of the most common microbial insecticides, nematicides, and fungicides that can be used to manage pests. Biological control companies are listed along with their websites, and the guide provides additional sources of information on obtaining and using commercial natural enemies. Written by Lynn M. LeBeck and Norman C. Leppla, and published by the UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, October 2015.

Cooking with Fresh Herbs

fresh herbs hanging to dryPeople worldwide are becoming more adventurous when cooking with fresh herbs. If you are just starting to use fresh herbs in your cooking or need a refresher, these tips for washing, storing, and cooking with herbs will lead you in the right direction. This 8-page fact sheet discusses the history of herbs, how to buy them fresh, how to wash and store them, dried herb blends, common herb and food combinations, and several recipes using herbs. Written by Emily Minton and Martha Maddox and published by the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, October 2015. (Photo credit: Credit: LiliGraphie/iStock/

Sous Vide Cookery: Foodservice Application for Larger, Less Tender Cuts

Raw pork being butchered at the University of Florida's meat lab.Meat with an abundance of connective tissue presents a certain challenge to cooks who want to make it more tender while still properly eliminating pathogens that cause foodborne illness. Sous vide cookery provides precise temperature control and tenderness improvement with minimal supervision throughout cooking as well as consistent, almost perfect reproducibility. This 4-page fact sheet introduces the reader to the sous vide method and covers its advantages and necessary equipment. The piece also offers tips on cooking, chilling, storing, and reheating large cuts of meat. Written by Chad Carr, Derek Griffing, Kaylie Madore, Dwain Johnson, Jason Scheffler, and João Neto, and published by the UF Department of Animal Sciences, September 2015.

Avian Diseases Transmissible to Humans

A "please wash your hands" sign affixed to chicken cages at the poultry exhibit during the 4H Livestock show. Chickens, eggs, farm livestock, hygiene, safety.Anyone who keeps birds, whether as pets or as production animals, should be aware that certain avian diseases can be transmitted to humans. The seriousness of the disease in humans varies with human hosts’ age, overall health, and immune status as well as virulence of the organism, infective dose, and route of infection. This 4-page fact sheet is a major revision which discusses causes and symptoms of avian influenza (bird flu), chlamydiosis, salmonellosis, colibacillosis, encephalitis viruses, avian tuberculosis, Newcastle Disease, and cryptosporidiosis. Written by Michael A. Davis, Gary D. Butcher, and F. Ben Mather, and published by the UF Department of Animal Sciences, revised August 2015. Original publication date: August 1997.

Maximizing Weed Control in Florida Citrus

oranges on the tree with orchard in background
With Florida citrus growers and production managers being “squeezed” between rising production prices and declining yields from citrus greening, there’s more call than ever to reduce citrus production costs. Controlling weeds is a major expense, amounting to 11% of the total $2,278 annual production cost per acre for the 2014?2015 season. This 3-page fact sheet teaches the six essential components of an effective weed-management program to help maintain the profitability of this vital Florida industry. Written by Stephen H. Futch and Brent Sellers and published by the Horticultural Sciences Department.

Mechanical Pruning of Citrus Trees

Topping and hedging of large citrus trees
When citrus trees are not regularly pruned, less sunlight reaches the lower parts of the trees, which can reduce flowering and fruit development, quality, and color. Less sunlight also increases the risk of fungal infection. This 3-page fact sheets explains how growers can prune trees to maximize light exposure. Written by Mongi Zekri, and published by the UF Department of Horticultural Sciences, August 2015.

Small Flock Poultry Nutrition

Young woman feeding chickens. Source: Smather's Archives.
Inadequate poultry nutrition results in substandard growth rates as well as decreased egg production and weight. In order to express the genetic potential for which they were selected, meat- and egg-type birds must receive the correct amounts of nutrients and energy through properly formulated rations. This 4-page fact sheet examines the roles of water, carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, lipids (fats and oils), vitamins, minerals, and feed additives in poultry growth and development. It also emphasizes the importance of providing suitable feeds to birds of different ages and discusses common feeding mistakes. Written by Michael A. Davis, published by the UF Department of Animal Sciences, and reviewed and revised August 2015. This fact sheet is a major revision of “Small Poultry Flock Nutrition,” written by B. L. Damron and D. R. Sloan, April 1998.

Understanding Nitrogen Transformations and Cycling for Sweet Corn Production in Sandy Soils

Corn, Husks, Vegetable, Maize, Grain.Because sandy soils have low water and nutrient-holding capacities and Florida experiences high rainfall periodically, optimizing fertilizer use efficiency for sweet corn production is challenging. The preparation of nitrogen budgets and the implementation of effective management strategies can help farmers overcome these obstacles. This 4-page fact sheet discusses major concerns which call for nitrogen management in sweet corn production, nitrogen budget preparation and interpretation, and important differences between farm-gate and soil system budgets. Written by Rishi Prasad and George Hochmuth, and published by the UF Department of Soil and Water Science, May 2015.

Sand-Clay Mix in Phosphate Mine Reclamation: Characteristics and Land Use

Inlet pipe depositing sand-clay mix.
Phosphate rock is a key component in producing fertilizer and many other economically important products. Getting phosphate rock out of the ground produces a by-produce called phosphate clay, which mining operations must return to the landscape. However, phosphate clay retains large amounts of water, making them unsuitable for use as farmland or wildlife habitat. This 6-page fact sheet explains how using a sand-clay mix can more efficiently restore the landscape and put it to beneficial use. Written by Casey Beavers, Edward A. Hanlon, Matt Wilson, James “Bud” Cates, and George J. Hochmuth, and published by the UF Department of Soil and Water Sciences, July 2015.

Creeping Indigo, A Poisonous Plant of Concern in Florida Pastures

Flowers of creeping indigo arise from the base of the leaves and are pink to salmon in color.A recent rise in suspected horse poisonings has brought new attention to creeping indigo (Indigofera spicata), a toxic plant which has reportedly been in Florida for as long as 90 years. This new 5-page fact sheet covers plant description, signs of creeping indigo toxicity, and roles of creeping indigo’s toxins, as well as treatment and management. Written by Robert MacKay, Ed Jennings, Brent Sellers, Jason Ferrell, and Amanda House, and published by the UF Department of Agronomy, August 2015.

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