The UntvrIsty of oekMdo '
(A UNIVERSITY OF
HAS Persj?-(!C-to r&
By Michael V Martin
Inan era vhcii little Increased goverunient, regulation Differctil
is certain, three things forms of regttlation maN, increase production costs for
arc clear-: ( I ) Florida's producers. Pvcstrictions oil chemicals such as incthyl bro-
iiatui-al resource sector mide Nvill ha,,e far-reaching consequences, especialk, if
..... (agriculture, forestrv international ti-ading partners fail to iinpose similar- rcgu-
aquaculture, fisheries lations. Consurner concerns o%,er food safetf, nutrition,
and PaIAS 01 t0LII-iSIn aninlal rights and Other issucs will constrain xhat is pro-
01 continue to be duced and hm, it is produced, as NNcll as liov food is
centi-al to the state's processed and delivered.
-ell-being 2) PoN,-erftfl Relative labor scarcity While Flori(la's popula-
jorecs will reshape arid tion is 2rowing, it is grrc)ng relativek, slowly in the age
Mike Martin challenge this critical pool that supplies (lie basic labor- r-narket. Other II-olida
scctor and (3) UF's economic sc.ctor-s, ;uch as tourisrn, cc)nipete with the nat-
for Aoculture lil'stitute of food arid ural resource -sector for labor hor" (his limited Pool.
an( Agricultural Sciences When one compares Florida's labor a-vailability and cost
-1 Natural 1t:smirces
WFAFA-S) %,Ilt play a to n)aj Or iTI tcri-tational cOMI)CILitors', it is clear the differ-
key role in ho,,- challenges ar-e met arid hm,,- the scctor entials will amplif--,,1 the adN,,crse impacts of free trade
is reshaped. Invasive pests and species Florida's climate in-
Pressure on and competition for land and water .,itcs all types of pests. For niany of the statcs most
- Farnilxld is bCiTI 9 coiwertcd fOr urban, residential aTId \,altiable 'crops, iic\\, diseases or pests inaY be the greatest
tourism ties, Since 1980, farn) arid forest land has dc- thycat to sustained viabilin, '
clined b,,, 22 percem. FarrnlaT) d cncroach-nictit has been
accoinp mied by a correspondino compctition for and Segmented consurner preferences Higher in-
comes lia\,e ted to greater inarket segl-nentation. Many
conflict, oNer %%,ater. Crop and pasture irri(,atioi) shoaa(,cs
7 constiniers ntm7 dcsire rnor-e indhiduali 7cd packages of
arc occurring as water is directed for residential and tn goods and serfices, creating "niche" marketing oppoitir-
ban use. There also are concerns about a-riculture's
inipact on water qualitv In I)otli case, it 't) is likolN, that nitics for foods, bcwr-ages and other proditcts,
Nvatcrusc %,jll face groWITIg pi-cssures and iTIci-cascd intcl Shifting domestic markets and Lransportation -
Florida's transportation systctn (highways and raihvm-S)
ventions froni regulators.
International competition For decades, the originally linked Producer-, ,Oth the Popull-ition Centers
United States has ptirsited policies ainied at lo-k,vring in tile Kortheast, but population arid tnarkets have
dianged, Doniestic in-iikct groN'th is 110\ it) tile W'est
Wrriers to internacional trade. EKarnples include die 1111d Sottth-Ncst, and te t t"111 sport ati Oil systein scr,"ing
Gicneral Ygrcctnent on Thriffs and Trade (GATT) arid die Floridl-t agriculture is less efficient.
North American Free Erade Agreenielit (N11& FA). A To meet future challenges, Ylorida Mll depend heaAly
niow, tm,ard tfic, Free Trade Area of the Aincriclis
(FJAA treat%, N611 furthey imensif,%, conipetitive pressure oil science and education. Hox%,c,,-cr unlike inany other
states, Florida recches relatiNvIv little research and dc\,cl-
on Florida farmers, forcing greater efficiencies and ne-k,, opt-nent (IS-,D) support froin tile priatu sector. T lie
niarketilig strategies. diversity of Florida's agricultural alld natural resource in-
Sbiffing crop production patterns Gllohal corn-
pefil ion and high land prices haw caused Florida's dusti-ies is not Oc%\-ecl as profitable t (-)i- pri%,ace R&-D
fariners to make geographic and structurat adjustments. imestinerits. -1-hus, dlesc, industries. continue to rely
hca-,Jl, (-) n pu blic I'V&-] ), PartiCLI lart' LIF/I FA S 111 e 1A lost
For exarnplc, popidaiion -roAvth has accclcratcd ,I shift in
It) coniprefienshv rcsearch, de%,clopnient alld educational
citrus and cattle production to less poputated areas. insliltilion dedicated to advancing the state's prit-nary
Even inorc dramatic lias been the change in (lie slatc's econoinic secLor.
crop inix. Fariners ha%,e moved aNay from crops, requir- Fhis issiie of I N11-W-F inchides devclopnients bN
ing exicnsiw land to high-value, iniciisive land-use
UF/1FAS to keep Floiida strong and corapeOGNe. It deill-
crops. Traditionat crops such as tobacco, potatoes, col-
ton, xgeiables and sitgar cane have been replaced in onstrates how UF/lFAS is working for yon.
part ]),, mirsery products, ornamentals and sod (green
pi-oduci s), Aqtlaculnir-e has grown significant ly III
IMPACT is published
by the University of
Florida's Institute of
Food and Agricultural
Sciences (UF/IFAS) and
is produced by IFAS A
C m ican Volume 19, No. 2 Summer 2003
Ashley M. Wood,
director. 4 Water Quality 16 Society-Ready
Editor UF's Institute of Food and Graduates
Charles T. Woods Agricultural Sciences is working
Charles T. Woods with other state and federal A unique degree pr m in
Copy Editors agencies in the new Lake packaging scc,' pl parades
Chana J. Bird Okeechobee Protection Program. student i dLr n a pid
Ghana J. Bird &growin- indu-tr\
Contributor 8 Human Impacts 19 Public Policy
Chris P o Researchers have discovered that a
Chris Penko The ne\\ Snuthein Pllnu Diyno-;ic
ommnlnon fern has an amazing The ne ,den lt ,avi
Network p1 xide i ;n tlh "Iv \vall'rning.
Photo Editor ability to absorb arsenic from about IL Pl Pe'(;
Thomas S. Wright cnt.mfintllilted soil. and diset. se,
Photographers 10 Global Proteti
Tara Piasio 26 Pest Protection
Eric Zamora Competitiveness Research aind extension scientists
Designer Ti compete against low-cost have dc\elIopcd environmentally
Designer .lpriducci in Brazil, Florida's citrus ;fiendly' programs to manage a serious
Tracy D. Zwillinger industry needs new mechanical plant disease.
For more information harvesting systems being tested
about UF/IFAS by researchers. 29 Food Technology
programs, contact 13 Human Resources Food scientists have developed new
Donald W Poucher, folic acid educational materials for
assistant vice president Golf is big business in Florida, the state's growing Hispanic
of marketing and according to a n'0% econm ',mic study, community.
392-0437, or e-mail:
Changes of address,
requests for extra
copies and requests to 22 Cover Story
be added to the mailing (On the cover) Frank Mazzotti, an associate professor of wildlife ecology
list should be addressed and conservation at UF's Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center,
to Chuck Woods, holds an American crocodile in Everglades National Park. Mazzotti recently
PO Box 110025, led the first comprehensive survey of American crocodiles living in South
University of Florida, Florida. An increase in the number of the reptiles may be linked to a
Gainesville, FL 32611- federal, siate, local and private partnership to protect and restore coastal
0025, or e-mailed to habitats in the Florida Everglades. For the complete story, see page 22.
email@example.com. (Cover. photo by Eric Zamora) .
Impact is available in .
visit our home page at ."
Copyright 2003 by the -
University of Florida. All rights i
In response to a steady decline in the water
quality of Lake Okeechobee, the University of
Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences is working with a new partnership of
state and federal agencies to protect one of
the nation's largest freshwater lakes.
With a surface area of 730 square miles, Lake "The lake has clearly
Okeechobee is often called the "liquid heart" suffered over the past 30
of South Florida providing a natural habi- years," said Susan Gray,
tat for wildlife, attracting fishing and recreation who directs Lake
enthusiasts, and supplying water for people, farms and Okeechobee restoration ef-
the environment. forts for the water man-
But all is not well with South Florida's liquid heart. In agement district in West Palm Beach.
recent decades, the lake has been threatened by three en- "High water levels during the late 1990s resulted in
vironmental problems: excessive phosphorus loads that the loss of submerged plants, and past algae blooms have
degrade water quality and cause algae blooms and other discouraged recreation, killed fish and caused taste and
problems; harmful high and low water levels; and exotic odor problems in drinking water pumped from the lake,"
vegetation such as melaleuca and torpedograss. Gray said.
To help improve water quality and correct other prob- 'Although there was recovery of submerged plants due
lems in the lake, the Florida Legislature in 2000 to the drought and low water levels of 2000-2002, lake
authorized the Lake Okeechobee Protection Program. water level management continues to be a challenge with
Supported by about $42.5 million in state funding to current facilities," she said. "We also have the continuing
date, the comprehensive program is being coordinated by problem of excess nutrients, primarily phosphorus, de-
the South Florida Water Management District, the grading the water quality of the lake."
Florida Department of Environmental Protection and She said algae growth in Lake Okeechobee is stimulat-
the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer ed by excessive phosphorus levels, a key issue in the
Services. Other participants include the U.S. Depart- restoration project.
ment of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation "Given the extent of the problem and the size of the
"Given the extent of the problem and the size of the
Services, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and UF's lake and its surrounding 31,000-acre watershed, the
i f and W Cio n Florida Legislature recognized that it would take several
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
years to meet the restoration goals," she said. "Keeping Graham said the 40 ppb goal for the in-lake phospho-
the project on track and funded will require staying rus concentration was selected by the Florida
focused. We've got interagency cooperation, public con- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as a
cern and a state mandate to get the job done." safe and desirable level to protect water quality in the
Gray said the lake protection program will require a lake. To help achieve that standard, DEP requires the re-
combination of best management practices (BMPs) and duction of phosphorus entering Lake Okeechobee from
regional treatment as well as alternative technologies, the current average of 550 metric tons per year to ap-
proximately 140 metric tons by the year 2015.
"We're talking about a huge reduction in phosphorus y
levels, and our intention is not to put anyone out of Many sources have caused the problem over a period
business," Gray said. "We want to sustain economic pro- of decades. "Stormwater runoff from nearby dairies, cat-
ductivity while minimizing phosphorus runoff it's a tle ranches, farms and private homes all contributes to
difficult balancing act." the problem," she said. "Soil in some areas is so satu-
d G a p o h a cir o rated with phosphorus that it may continue to be re-
Wendy Graham, a professor of hydrology and chair of l f ers.
leased for years.
UF's agricultural and biological engineering department,
said the program is aimed at reducing phosphorus levels Graham and Mitch Flinchum, a professor of forest and
in the lake to 40 parts per billion (ppb). Depending on water resources at the Everglades Research and Educa-
weather and other conditions, phosphorus levels average tion Center in Belle Glade, are co-directors of the UF
110 ppb and have reached upwards of 200 ppb at times. research and extension education program.
SUMMER 2003 5
Mark Clark, left, a research assistant professor in UF's soil and water science department, and Mitch Flinchum discuss a wetland elevation
survey and placement of a water control structure near Lake Okeechobee. The red instrument on the yellow tripod is a laser leveling system that
is used with a Global Positioning System to determine the elevation contour and water storage capacity of an isolated wetland near the lake.
(Photo by Eric Zamora)
Graham said projects include developing remote sens- "Phosphorus discharged from various land use activi-
ing techniques to detect phosphorus hot spots on the ties can be assimilated in farm ditches, isolated wetlands
landscape, investigating alternative phosphorus remedia- and riparian buffers," said Ramesh Reddy, a graduate re-
tion processes, and demonstrating, evaluating and search professor and chair of UF's soil and water science
encouraging the adoption of agricultural, suburban and department. "Small isolated wetlands are a common fea-
urban land management practices to reduce the loading ture throughout the basin and may provide a significant
of phosphorus into the lake. The research and education storage and retention capacity for phosphorus runoff
projects are being conducted by faculty in soil and water within the landscape."
science, agricultural and biological engineering, agron- Reddy, who chairs this phase of the UF research
omy, horticultural sciences and animal sciences, project, said isolated wetlands cover about 17 percent of
For example, a demonstration project for cattle ranch- the basin, and understanding their role in phosphorus
ing will reduce phosphorus loads from cow-calf storage is critical to the long-term water quality efforts.
operations adopting BMPs in the Lake Okeechobee ba- In addition, constructed wetlands can be used to treat ei-
sin, she said. their on-farm discharges or basinwide runoff.
"At this point, sites have been selected at working com- "The successful deployment of treatment wetlands in
mercial ranches to demonstrate various water and watersheds north of the lake will be challenging because
nutrient management practices," Graham said. "We are phosphorus concentrations in dairy runoff are quite
currently installing instrumentation, and monitoring will high," Reddy said.
begin in the summer of 2003." Flinchum, who is working on the lake protection pro-
Another key part of the UF research and education gram with Pat Miller, Okeechobee County extension
program involves phosphorus retention and storage in director, said there's a wide range of environmental and
isolated and constructed wetlands in the Lake economic issues that must be addressed. Flinchum said
Mark Clark adjusts a device that detects a laser beam to determine the soil elevation of a wetland near Lake Okeechobee. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
success of the program will depend on cooperation from their businesses and by providing incentives for farmers
residents in seven counties around the lake. to participate, the program represents a voluntary part-
"Lake Okeechobee is crucial to South Florida's envi- nership with government."
ronment and water resources, and BMPs can help if we He said producers have responded by indicating virtu-
have the determination to use them," he said. "This is ally a 100 percent interest in joining the program, and he
the first time UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sci- expects the trend will continue throughout the water-
ences has made a committed institutional effort to work shed. Chuck Woods
with these agencies on legislative priorities, and we hope Chuck Aller (850) 488-3022
the program will serve as a model for future efforts." firstname.lastname@example.org
Chuck Aller, who leads the Florida Department of Ag- Mitch Flinchum (561) 993-1523
riculture and Consumer Services' efforts to implement email@example.com
BMPs and other phosphorus control strategies on farms Wendy Graham (352) 392-1864, Ext. 120
and ranches in the watershed, said the high level of sup-
port from the agricultural community for the interagency ra
effort is a good reason to be optimistic about restoring Susan Gray (561) 682-6919
the lake. firstname.lastname@example.org
"The Lake Okeechobee Protection Program legislation Pat Miller (863) 763-6469
begins with the premise that there are ways to achieve email@example.com
environmental results for agricultural operations without K. Ramesh Reddy (352) 392-1803, Ext. 317
resorting to traditional government regulatory ap- firstname.lastname@example.org
preaches," Aller said. "By involving producers from the
very beginning in the design of BMPs that directly affect
SUMMER 2003 7
An Amazing Arsenic-
In breakthrough research that received worldwide media
attention, University of Florida scientists have discovered a
fern that has an amazing ability to soak up arsenic from
A common Florida fern may be useful in cleaning up biochemistry expert. "Why the fern accumulates arsenic is
thousands of sites contaminated by arsenic from a mystery"
industrial, mining, agricultural or other operations She said the fern could become a star player in the na-
around the world. scent industry known as phytoremediation, or using plants
Lena Ma, a professor of soil and water science with UF's to clean up toxic waste sites. More than 400 plants are
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said it's the known to accumulate toxins, and many are used in a small
first plant ever found to "hyperaccumulate" arsenic, a car- but growing phytoremediation market estimated to be ex-
cinogenic heavy metal currently used as an herbicide and pending from $30 million in 1998 to as much as $370
wood preservative. The findings were published recently in million by 2005.
the scientific journal Nature. "Because the fern accumulates 90 percent of the arsenic
Her research team found that the Chinese Brake Fern in its fronds, the plant could be grown on toxic sites, and
(Pteris vittata) not only absorbs arsenic from the soil, but then the fronds could be harvested for transfer to a haz-
does so with amazing efficiency arsenic concentrations ardous waste facility," Ma said. "The approach could be
were as much as 200 times higher in the fern than in con- used worldwide to decontaminate soil as well as water."
taminated soils where the plant was growing. During the past century, cattle ranchers in Florida often
For example, at a site contaminated by wood pressure- used an arsenic dip on their herds to combat fleas, ticks
treated with a chromium-copper-arsenic (CCA) solution, and other parasites. As a result, there are more than 3,200
the soil sample collected by Ken Iomar, a former graduate sites contaminated by arsenic in Florida alone. Worldwide,
student, had 38.9 parts per million (ppm) of arsenic, while there are thousands of contaminated sites associated with
the fern fronds had 7,526 ppm of arsenic. In greenhouse mining, wood preservation and pesticide use.
tests using soil artificially infused with arsenic, concentra- "The fern seems all the more promising to clean up
tions in the fern's fronds reached 22,630 ppm, meaning many of these sites because it is an easy-to-grow perennial
that 2.3 percent of the plant was composed of arsenic, that prefers a sunny environment and alkaline soil," Ma
Ma said. said. "In alkaline conditions, arsenic can be extracted
"To our surprise, we found the fern accumulates arsenic more easily."
in soils that contain normal background arsenic levels of In greenhouse tests conducted by Cong Tu, a former
less than one ppm," she said. "We measured 136 ppm of postdoctoral scientist, the plant seems to fare better in
arsenic in the fronds of a fern growing on the UF campus soils with arsenic than in soils without arsenic, but Ma
in soil that contained just 0.47 ppm of the metal." said she is puzzled as to how arsenic can enhance
Levels of arsenic in the plant easily eclipse the threshold plant growth.
of five ppm for classification as a hazardous waste based "Our long-term goal is to understand the mechanisms of
on the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxicity Char- arsenic uptake, translocation, distribution and detoxifica-
acteristic Leaching Procedure test, another surprising fact tion by the Chinese Brake Fern and to maximize arsenic
in light of the plant's verdant appearance, she said. accumulation by the plant," Ma said. "We also want to
"The findings are all the more remarkable because ar- identify the genes in the plant responsible for arsenic
senic is currently used to kill weeds and other unwanted hyperaccumulation."
plants on golf courses and lawns," said Ma, a trace-metals
Ma's group has demon-
strated the effectiveness
of the fern in removing ar-
senic from the CCA site
where the plant was first
discovered in 1998. After
two croppings, 12 percent
to 43 percent of the ar-
senic in the top foot of
soil was removed by the
plant. Based on this ar-
senic removal rate, the
site could be remediated
in a few years, a record
time for phytoremedia-
To expand the capabil-
ity to remediate various
contaminated sites, Ma's
group is screening differ-
ent plants to measure
their appetite for arsenic. Beside the Chinese Brake Fern, Lena Ma compares a sickly fern, left, with a healthy fern exposed to
high levels of arsenic. Ma and her colleagues have discovered that a
several other ferns in the Pteris genus have shown the capa- common brake fern can soak up large amounts of arsenic from
ability to absorb arsenic. contaminated soil without harming the plant. (Photo by Tara Piasio)
Currently, researchers in Ma's group working on fern re-
search include Tom Luongo, a senior chemist; postdoctoral
scientists Mike Tu, Mrittunjai Srivastava, Nandita Singh aW
and Rocky Cao; and doctoral students Abioyve Fayiga, Gina
I(ertulis and Maria Silver.
UF faculty who have contributed to the fern research
project include David Sylvia, a former professor in the soil
and water science department; Saba Rathinasabapathi, an
associate professor in the horticultural sciences depart-
ment; Charles Guy, a professor in the environmental
horticulture department; Robert Stamps, a professor in the
environmental horticulture department and assistant direc-
tor of UF's Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in
Apopka; Maria Gallo-Meagher, an associate professor in
the agronomy department; Gregory MacDonald, an assis-
tant professor in the agronomy department; Joseph Vu, a
courtesy associate professor in the agronomy department;
Rongling Wu, an associate professor in the statistics de-
partment; Randolph Duran, an associate prossosor in the Lena Ma, left, discusses the fern's ability to absorb arsenic from the
apartment; Randolph soil with her doctoral graduate student, Abioye Fayiga. (Photo by
chemistry department; and James Winefordner, a graduate Tara Piasio)
research professor in the chemistry department.
The team's research is supported by grants from the Na- Systems Corporation, an environmental biotechnology
tional Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of company near Washington, D.C.
Agriculture's Tropical and Sub-Tropical Agriculture Re- For her research, Ma received the Discovery 2001 Award
search (T-STAR) program and the Florida Power and Light from the Royal Geographical Society and Discovery Net-
Company. UF has received two patents for using the fern works Europe. Chuck Woods
to clean up arsenic-contaminated soil and water. Commer- Lena Ma: (352) 392-9063, Ext. 208
cial rights to patents have been licensed to Edenspace email@example.com or http://lqma.ifas.ufl.edu
SUMMER 2003 9
"A "Shaky" Future
for Florida Citrus
University of Florida researchers say new tree-
shaking mechanical harvesting systems are
nine times more efficient than picking oranges
by hand and will help the state's $9 billion
citrus industry compete with low-cost
producers such as Brazil.
n their search for a cheaper way to pick billions of growers in Stio
oranges from millions of trees, University of Florida Paulo, Brazil.
researchers have tried everything from tree shakers And, while the current
to air-blast machines and water cannons. U.S. tariff on imported
Some of these mechanical harvesting systems date Brazilian frozen orange-
back to the 1960s when research was aimed at helping juice concentrate eliminates their advantage in the do-
grove workers hand pick oranges more efficiently. Now, mestic market, all tariffs on imported agricultural
with higher labor costs in Florida and strong competition commodities would be eliminated under the proposed
from low-cost producers such as Brazil, mechanical har- Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, Muraro said.
vesting is becoming a necessity on the state's 600,000 Roka said previous mechanical harvesting research pro-
acres of processed oranges. grams were motivated by fears of labor shortages. "The
"In today's global citrus market, necessity has become goal of shake-and-catch systems during the 1970s was to
the mother of invention," said Fritz Roka, an associate help grove workers increase the number of boxes they
professor of food and resource economics at UF's South- could harvest from eight or 10 boxes per hour to 30.
west Florida Research and Education Center in "Today, we're looking at new tree-shaking and catch-
Immokalee, who is studying the economic aspects of me- frame harvesting systems that allow one person to collect
chanical harvesting. more than 90 boxes per hour. Higher labor productivity
"The future economic viability of Florida's citrus in- should translate to lower harvesting costs," he said.
dustry will depend on our ability to grow citrus at Roka said the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC)
competitive prices," Roka said. "Mechanical harvesting in Lakeland has invested more than $9 million since
offers an excellent opportunity to significantly lower har- 1995 from grower assessments to develop mechanical
vesting costs threefold." harvesting systems.
Ron Muraro, a professor of food and resource econom- The FDOC Harvesting Research Advisory Council,
ics at UF's Citrus Research and Education Center in which includes growers, harvesters and processors, was
Lake Alfred, has developed cost comparisons between established in 1995 to coordinate development of me-
the Brazilian and Florida citrus industries. During the chanical harvesting technologies. Currently, researchers
2000-01 harvesting season, the cost of picking and with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are
"roadsiding" fruit into a trailer was $1.60 per 90-pound evaluating 31 different machine systems from six
box of fruit in Florida, compared to 38 cents per box for
is deflected to a catch frame on the opposite side of the tree. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
manufacturers, and two systems are achieving commer- from the ground to create a "clear trunk" of at least 12
cial success in Southwest Florida. inches, he said. TSC systems are being used in groves
"During this year's harvesting season, the trunk-shake- with tree densities up to 175 trees per acre and on trees
catch (TSC) and the continuous-canopy-shake-catch between 10 and 18 years old.
(CCSC) systems removed at least 95 percent and recov- He said the two shake-and-catch systems are most effi-
ered 90 percent of the fruit from trees in southwest cient in the newer groves of Southwest Florida where
Florida," Roka said. tree age, height and spacing are more uniform. Older
He said CCSC systems have greater harvesting capac- groves in the Ridge area of Central Florida have lots of
ity than TSC systems. One set of CCSC machines can resets, or tree replacements, and lack the uniformity
load up to 18,500-box trailers in one day. One set of needed for efficient machine harvest.
TSC equipment can fill five trailers in one day. However, "One of the biggest challenges for growers is overcom-
the TSC system requires only two operators while the ing the idea that groves can be planted like they were 50
CCSC system requires six. years ago," Roka said. "Older groves need to be replanted
"As a result, harvest labor productivity is similar for the with smaller trees that are closer together and more uni-
two systems," Roka said. "Hourly labor productivity was form, allowing shake-and-catch machines to move down
measured at more than 90 field boxes per hour, which tree rows more efficiently."
represents a ninefold increase in labor productivity over Roka has developed a computer spreadsheet program
a hand-harvesting crew." so that growers can organize information on mechanical
However, in order for these systems to perform effec- harvesting and determine when it is profitable. Key pa-
tively, trees and groves must be well-prepared. Tree rameters include the system's fruit recovery percentage,
canopies must be trimmed or "skirted" at least 30 inches fruit price, crop yield and the cost difference between
SUMMER 2003 11
(Top photo) Fritz Roka walks by a continuous-
S. canopy-shake-catch (CCSC) mechanical
Harvesting system manufactured by Oxbo
International Corp. in Clear Lake, Wis. (Photo by
(Bottom photo) Fritz Roka, left, and Paul Meador,
owner of Everglades Harvesting and Hauling Inc.
in LaBelle, Fla., watch fruit being harvested by
Sthe Oxbo system. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
1 "Our research, coupled with the har-
vesting experience of commercial
"growers, indicates that trunk or canopy
shaking has no adverse effect on tree
yield through seven years of harvesting,"
Whitney said. "With each additional
year of experience, uncertainty among
growers should diminish."
Another tool for more efficient me-
chanical harvesting is the use of
abscission agents, chemicals that help
loosen mature fruit from trees, said
Jackie Burns, a professor of horticulture
"at UF's Lake Alfred center.
Sg "Spraying trees with an abscission
"agent a few days before harvest increases
oi ad fruit removal and makes harvesting
faster and easier," she said. 'Abscission
agents must be nontoxic, selective, cost-
effective and environmentally safe."
Burns, who manages the abscission re-
search team at Lake Alfred, said the
selectivity of the chemical agent is espe-
cially important on Valencia trees that
S. have young, developing fruit and mature
S fruit at the same time. Removing too
'" much of the developing fruit with a me-
1 ."chanical harvester decreases the next
., ,--t season's yield.
S- .- Burns and her research team are
working on three promising abscission
agents CMNP (5-chloro-3-methyl-4-
nitro- 1H-pyrazole), Ethepon and Coronatine, all of
which are at least five to seven years from being commer-
mechanical and hand harvesting. The model is available cially available.
at the UF Southwest Florida Research and Education
Other faculty working on the abscission agent research
Center Web site: http://www.imok.ufl.edu/economics.
team include Masoud Salyani, a professor of agricultural
"Growers need to recognize that 100-percent fruit re- and biological engineering. He is measuring the effective-
covery is not necessary for increasing revenues," Roka ness of various spray application technologies and
said. 'A sufficiently large differential between hand and developing spray guidelines for growers. Chuck Woods
machine costs could more than offset the value of non-
recovered fruit." Jaclie Burns (863) 956-1151, Ext. 285
Foremost in the minds of growers is how a mechanical Ron Muraro (863) 956-1151, Ext. 203
harvesting system will affect the long-term health of firstname.lastname@example.org
trees. Jodie Whitney, a retired professor of agricultural
and biological engineering at UF's Citrus Research and Fritz Roka (239) 658-3400, Ext. 3412
Education Center in Lake Alfred, has been involved in email@example.com
developing and testing mechanical harvesting equipment Masoud Salyani (863) 956-1151, Ext. 225
since the 1970s. firstname.lastname@example.org
S II Those Greens
World Golf Village in St. Augustine is a prime example of the industry's far-reaching economic impact on the state's economy.
(Photo courtesy of World Golf Village)
With more golf courses than any other state, Florida has the
nation's largest golf industry, according to a new University of
Florida study. Growth of the $9.2 billion industry is linked to
UF research and education programs that develop new
turfgrass varieties and management practices, and train
professionals to maintain all those greens.
he golf industry is up to par in Florida, generat- $9.2 billion in personal and business income, which
ing billions of dollars annually and employing created 226,000 jobs.
tens of thousands of people. Golf industry revenues in the state for 2000, the most
A new study by UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural current year for statistics, were 49 percent higher than
Sciences indicates that the state's 1,334 golf courses em- the previous $3 billion estimate for 1991-92.
played 73,000 people and generated $4.4 billion in sales "Golf stands on its own as a very important industry
in 2000. That figure includes membership and playing and a large contributor to the economy of Florida," said
fees, food and beverages, lodging and retail sales. John Haydu, a professor of food and resource economics
Golf-playing visitors in Florida spent $5.4 billion, and at UF's Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in
the total economic impact of their spending on golf was Apopka. "When it comes to popular recreational
SUMMER 2003 13
John Haydu, left, and Alan Hodges say
their research indicates golf-playing
visitors in Florida spent about $5.4
Billion annually. The total economic
impact of their spending on golf was
"$9.2 billion in personal and business
... ... .. .. o.. golf., i.... o .... income, which created 226,000 jobs.
S... ...... (Photo by Thomas Wright)
has been driven by demand.
Since 1986, the number of
golfers has increased 34 per-
cent, from 19.9 million to
Increasingly, golf courses are
being constructed as part of
larger residential community
"development projects. Overall,
the influence of golf courses on
activities, there is no other sport that comes close to it residential development has been positive.
in Florida." "Communities with golf courses, clubhouses and other
Haydu, who co-authored the study with Alan Hodges, enhanced amenities are viewed as highly desirable places
an assistant in UF's food and resource economics depart- to live," Haydu said. "More than 776,000 residential
ment, said Florida's golf industry employment ranked units with an average value of $366,000 have been de-
second to the 80,000 workers employed by amusement veloped with a total value of $158 billion."
and theme parks.
Scheme prks. In 13 of 18 counties, property values across all land
The book value of assets owned by golf courses was types were significantly higher when they were located
$10.8 billion, including land, buildings and installations, within the same square-mile section as golf courses. For
vehicles and equipment, and golf course irrigation sys- example, differentials were as high as $46,537 for resi-
tems. The land owned by golf courses totaled 205,000 denial properties near golf courses in Martin County.
acres, with 147,000 acres in maintained turf and Water use for landscape irrigation is a critical and
140,000 irrigated. growing issue in Florida, Hodges said. Many golf course
The survey also indicated that the golf industry do- superintendents are aware of the increasing political
nated $12 million in cash and $25 million in services to pressures to reduce consumption or switch to alternative
charitable causes during 2000. water sources such as reclaimed water. At the same time,
With course revenues in excess of $664 million, Palm heightened environmental awareness by the public is fo-
Beach County is the golf capital of the United States, causing attention on heavy users of water, fertilizers and
Haydu said. Other counties with golf course revenues in pesticides.
excess of $100 million include Collier with $476 million, "Golf courses, which are generally located close to or
Miami-Dade with $288 million, Broward with $261 mil- within urban areas, are particularly prone to public
lion, Indian River with $211 million, Lee with $196 scrutiny of resource use practices," Hodges said. "With
million, Hillsborough with $193 million, Pinellas with more golf courses than any other state, coupled with a
$145 million, Orange with $131 million, Martin with rapidly expanding urban population, the Florida golf
$115 million and Duval with $110 million. course industry is often in the spotlight with regard to
Rounds of golf played in Florida totaled 58.6 million water consumption practices, particularly during periods
in 2000, with 33 percent by out-of-state visitors, 14 per- of drought."
cent by nonlocal Florida residents and 54 percent by He said water used for irrigation amounted to 173 bil-
local residents. Florida golf courses hosted 26,298 tour- lion gallons, with recycled water as the dominant source
nament events attended by 2.11 million spectators. All (49 percent) and lesser amounts from surface waters (29
golf-related and nongolf-related travel expenses by golf- percent) and wells (21 percent). Nine percent of the re-
playing visitors were estimated at $22.9 billion. spondents said their water use per acre increased over
Eighty-three percent of the golf courses in Florida have the past five years, 42 percent said their water use de-
been constructed since 1960, and 25 percent have been lined and 42 percent said it remained the same.
built during the past 10 years. The increase in new golf Fertilizer use per acre was increased by 29 percent of the
facilities parallels the state's rapidly growing population respondents, decreased by 18 percent of the respondents
and the popularity of golf as a recreational sport. Growth and remained the same for 47 percent.
More than a half dozen turfgrass varieties are used on Alliance; Florida Golf Course Superintendents Associa-
Florida golf courses. Bermudagrass (92 percent) is the tion; Everglades Golf Course Superintendents
most prevalent turfgrass because it is tolerant of heavy Association; Taylor Woodrow; and Bonita Bay Group.
traffic. Far down the list in second place was bahiagrass Chuck Woods
(3.5 percent), which is typically limited to the golf Complete study details are available in a technical
course rough. Saint Augustine (2.7 percent) and others report at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu or
(1 percent) such as Zoysia are generally limited to the http://economicimpact.ifas.ufl.edu.
special tee areas.
Survey questionnaires were mailed to a list of 1,334 John Haydu (407) 884-2034, Ext.156
golf courses developed from several sources, and com- email@example.com
pleted questionnaires were received from 223 firms, Alan Hodges (352) 392-1845, Ext. 312
representing a 17 percent response rate. firstname.lastname@example.org
Funds for the study were provided by the Florida Turf-
grass Association; WCI Communities Inc.; Florida Golf
-- John Cisar checks
"" .. bermudagrass test plots at
SUF's Fort Lauderdale
S.. .... Research and Education
; .C.enter. He said
::.;= bermudagrass is the most
.. widely used turfgrass on
a. ...= Igolf courses, and three new
". .. i "ultra-dwarf" varieties being
tested have the lower
Showing heights golfers
S"... prefer. Cisar also is
"a- measuring proper fertilizer
rates and other
How safe is it for golfers to play on a course treated More than 3,800 graduate and undergraduate stu-
with pesticides? How can golf courses reduce their use of dents, including women and minorities, are currently
precious water resources? How can they prevent fertilizer enrolled in the UF college. More thanagem 40 student practices are
and other chemicals from leaching into groundwater major in turfgrass science.(IFAS
supplies? And who is going to train the professionals Nell also said research by UF and others indicates that
needed to manage Florida golf courses and protect the golf industry uses only 3.2 percent of the water con-
the environment? sued in the state on a daily basis, and that the proper
The answers to these and other questions are coming use of pesticides and fertilizers by the industry has no
from the statewide research and education programs at appreciable impact on the environment.
UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, which Grady Miller, an associate professor in the environ-
includes the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. mental horticulture department, said UF researchers
The statewide teaching programs in the UF college are have developed best management practices for golf
unique. No other state university in Florida offers bache- courses to control pests, prevent fertilizer leaching into
lor of science degree programs in turfgrass science, groundwater and improve irrigation efficiency New turf-
environmental horticulture and other related fields such grasses that are more resistant to drought, pests and
as agribusiness management for professionals who man- other conditions also are being developed.
age golf coursessor and chair of At UF's West Florida Research and Education Center
the environmental horticulture department. in Milton, Bryan Unruh is developing best management
SUMMER 2003 15
practices for seashore paspalum, a new species of turf-
grass that is highly salt tolerant and well-suited to
Florida's coastal environment. SKa
Unruh, an associate professor, also is the only turf-
grass scientist in the world searching for alternatives Almost every
to methyl bromide, a widely used fumigant that's es- duct whether
sential for sod production. The chemical is being whether
phased out by the U.S. Environmental Protection grown or
Agency because it contributes to the destruction of
the Earth's protective ozone layer. manufactured -
Research by George Snyder and John Cisar indi- must be packaged
cates that golfers face little or no risk of pesticide
residues on golf courses for the consumer. T
"We measured the residues of organophosphate pes- help fill the growing
ticides some of the most toxic chemicals used on
golf courses and found that golfers could play safely need for trained
the day after these pesticides were applied," said
Snyder, a distinguished professor of soil and water sci- professionals in the
ence at UF's Everglades Research and Education packaging industry,
Center in Belle Glade. J a o i d
"Even if once- or twice-a-week golfers played the the University
same day these pesticides were applied, which is a Florida's College of
more reasonable scenario, the risk would be insignifi-
cant," he said. "In fact, our research shows a golfer Agricultural and Life
would have to enter a newly-treated course every day
for 70 years before the risk became serious." Sciences is one of
Snyder and Cisar, a professor of environmental the first colleges in
horticulture at UF's Fort Lauderdale Research and SW No
Education Center, conducted their research over a the nation to offer
six-year period with a grant from the U.S. Golf students a degree
Association. students a degree
Snyder also helps golf courses use reclaimed water program in
for irrigation, which is essential in a rapidly urban-
izing state such as Florida. At the Water Conserv II packaging science.
facility west of Orlando, more than 30 million gallons
of highly treated wastewater are recycled daily on cit- while the average consumer may not be aware
rus and golf courses. Snyder is measuring nutrient / of the technology that goes into packaging,
leaching at the Orange County National Golf Course. V its impact is as familiar as the grocery store
He said research indicates that nitrogen levels in per- catchphrase, "Paper or plastic?"
colate water meet drinking-water standards 80 Packaging science includes all aspects of a product's
percent of the time, and efforts are underway to im- life cycle from the factory to consumer to curbside
prove this figure in the future. Chuck Woods recycling box or landfill. In North America alone, corpo-
John Cisar (954) 577-6336 rations spend $50 billion to $100 billion annually on
John Cisar (954) 577-6336
email@example.com packaging. More people are employed in packaging oper-
ations and related support industries than any other
Grady Miller (352) 392-1831, Ext. 375 industry in the U.S.
firstname.lastname@example.org "On the basis of gross domestic product, packaging is
Terril Nell (352) 392-1831, Ext. 337 the third-largest industry in the United States, and it's
email@example.com expanding," said Bruce Welt, an assistant professor of
George Snyder (561) 993-1574 agricultural and biological engineering in UF's Institute
firstname.lastname@example.org of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Brian Unruh (850) 484-4482 "With thousands of products competing in today's glo-
email@example.com bal marketplace, it's easy to see why the packaging
industry needs well-educated professionals," Welt said.
"In fact, demand for professionals exceeds the number of
graduates, and starting salaries are usually in the
eal Package Deal!
"Just today, we received a job posting for an entry-level distribution and logistics, post-use recycling, reuse, con-
packaging engineer with a salary range of $44,975 to version to energy and/or disposal.
$67,463," he said. "Packaging professionals are always pushing the enve-
To help meet the demand, UF's College of Agricultural lope to improve the lives of people, the efficiency of
and Life Sciences initiated an undergraduate degree industry and our environmental stewardship," Welt said.
program in packaging science. Since the program was "Recent evidence of this trend is the application of com-
started in August 2001, student enrollment has increased puterized 3-D package design to accelerate the design
at the rate of 100 percent per year, making it one of cycle, reduce development costs, and increase develop-
the fastest-growing degree programs in the UF college, ment and production efficiencies."
Welt said. He said the UF packaging science program offers stu-
"Based on our latest student enrollment numbers, we dents a foundation in the pure sciences such as biology,
are in the third year of at least 100 percent growth," said chemistry, physics and math. They can apply these fun-
Welt, who coordinates the undergraduate program for damental principles to real-world issues facing the
the college. "We started with five students in 2001 and packaging industry The program also incorporates useful
had 10 in 2002, and we expect to exceed 20 undergradu- tools for commerce such as accounting and economics.
ate packaging science majors by August 2003." Electives allow students to tailor education toward their
He said packaging science offers a path to many career special interests. Industry internships provide experience
opportunities, including package design, graphic design, and opportunities to network with potential employers.
package and materials performance analysis, quality as- The program also offers undergraduate students in
surance, quality control, manufacturing, raw material other majors an opportunity to obtain a minor in pack-
production and distribution, conversion of raw materials aging science through the agricultural and biological
into usable forms, printing, marketing, warehousing, engineering department. Welt said the minor is designed
Bryan Baker, left, and
Bruce Welt use computer
.- tools for 3-D modeling of
S: new packaging concepts.
__ Baker, who completed his
bachelor of science degree
in packaging in May, said
"UF's packaging science
program offers an excellent
Combination of science and
creativity. During a six-
Lie month internship in the
packaging department of
Syngenta Crop Protection
a Inc. in Greensboro, N.C.,
SBaker worked with six
"engineers on various
c p e projects, including package
interaction, and testing and
certification. He plans to
pursue a master's degree
in agricultural operations
management at UF. (Photo
by Thomas Wright)
to complement other studies and help prepare students about five minutes," Welt said. 'Although those packages
for careers in industries that depend on the many aspects kept the burgers warm with very little material, people
of packaging. didn't appreciate seeing the boxes blowing around in
"Packaging involves sophisticated science and engineer- their neighborhoods. McDonald's fixed it by moving to
ing," Welt said. "For example, think about what you polymer-coated paper wrappers.
want from almost any food container it should look ap- Welt said UF looks for research and development pro-
pealing, keep food fresh, seal out contaminants, protect ject ideas from companies with specific packaging needs.
against breakage, be easy to use, and cost just pennies to "It's a win-win situation because the companies get
manufacture and recycle solutions to their problems while our students get realis-
"Add other conveniences such as the ability to go from tic work experience," he said. "Packaging technology is
the freezer to the microwave without cracking, delami- becoming so advanced that employers prefer people with
nating or melting, and you've got even more interesting specialized degrees."
packaging problems to solve," he said. "These aren't Welt said UF's packaging science program is receiving
theoretical problems, they're real-world business strong support from industry, including equipment dona-
considerations." tions from major companies such as Colgate-Palmolive
Welt said the paper-versus-plastic dilemma illustrates Inc., Frito-Lay Inc., Hershey Foods Corp., Syngenta
one of the most important environmental trends in pack- Crop Protection Inc. and Tropicana Products Inc.
"aging, something called life-cycle assessment. He said the packaging science program is working on
"It teaches you to look at the big picture and focus on developing an industrial academic advisory board. "So
delivering what a client needs while minimizing waste," far, representatives from Pfizer Inc., Procter & Gamble
he said. "Many people assume paper bags are a better Co., Nestle U.S.A. and Syngenta have expressed interest
environmental choice because trees are renewable. But in participating," he said.
paper bags are thicker, larger and heavier than plastic Welt also said the program is seeking financial support
bags, so we need more trucks burning more fuel and pro- from industry in the form of endowments.
during more pollution to transport the same number of "We have shared endowment proposals with a couple
bags. Sometimes there is no obvious best choice, and it is of companies, but recent economic weakness seems to
important to have people who understand the depth of have slowed the process a bit," he said. "We have a
complexities involved." unique, one-time opportunity to name the packaging sci-
Welt said corporations such as McDonald's have ap- ence laboratory, and we hope to have the honor of
plied these methods to redesign their packaging, reduce hanging that plaque very soon." Chuck Woods
environmental impacts and save costs.
"You've probably forgotten about those stiff yellow- Bruce Welt (352) 392-1864, Ext. 111
foam clamshell boxes that held your cheeseburger for firstname.lastname@example.org
-vI ~-91 -1 = Rt
Q \ nnostic
.. .... n
coordinating a new National Plant Diagnostic Network that
will provide an early warning about plant pests and diseases.
B because agriculture is an inviting target for terror- and respond to intentional and accidental introductions
ists, the University of Florida is working with of plant pests and pathogens."
other land-grant institutions to coordinate the Wisler, who is coordinator of a regional network that
National Plant Diagnostic Network, a Web-based report- serves 12 southern states and one U.S. territory, said a
ing system designed to speed the detection of dangerous $900,000 homeland security grant from the U.S. De-
plant diseases and pests. apartment of Agriculture provided initial funding for the
"Agriculture also is a 'soft' target because it covers an program. The Southern Plant Diagnostic Network,
enormous amount of land under decentralized manage- which is part of the national network, includes Alabama,
ment and would have a significant economic impact," Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missis-
said Gail Wisler, a professor and chair of the plant pa- sippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,
thology department in UF's Institute of Food and Virginia and Puerto Rico.
Agricultural Sciences. The national network comprises four regional net-
"Few sights would be more demoralizing to people works in addition to the southern network. Universities
than crop fields ruined by disease or pestilence, or live- coordinating other regional networks include Cornell
stock herds led to mass slaughter," Wisler said. "It's University for the northeast, Michigan State University
critical to have the ability to quickly detect, diagnose for the north central, Kansas State University for the
SUMMER 2003 19
1 It ^ r ..* .. **"* t. .
Pam Roberts checks pepper plants for bacterial leafspot at UF's Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee.
(Photo by Eric Zamora)
Great Plains and University of California at Davis for She said the state and national networks also will
the west. establish a "first detector" system to help monitor the in-
"UF has a long and trusted relationship with those in- production of new plant pests or unusual pest outbreaks.
volved in food production, and our statewide research "First detectors are an integral part of the system and
and extension programs interact closely and rapidly with include growers, county extension faculty, state agricul-
growers," Wisler said. "It makes good sense to capitalize ture department personnel, crop consultants, pesticide
on our well-equipped plant pest and diagnostic labs and applicators, and commercial chemical and seed represen-
staff of plant scientists with vast experience in integrated tatives," Wisler said.
pest management." "The Southern Plant Diagnostic Network will provide
Other UF20FAS faculty coordinating the southern re- training to first detectors on techniques for identifying
gional network include Bob McGovern, a professor of agro-terrorist threats and procedures for reporting pest
plant pathology and director of UF's plant medicine pro- problems," Wisler said. "First detectors will have access
gram; Howard Beck, a professor of agricultural and to the Web-based diagnostic system and can report un-
biological engineering in Gainesville; Tim Momol, an as- usual pest problems, existing crop conditions and other
sistant professor of plant pathology at the North Florida information not normally submitted through the dis-
Research and Education Center in Quincy; and Pam tance diagnostic network.
Roberts, an assistant professor of plant pathology at the "Federal and state agencies routinely monitor U.S. bor-
Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in ders for plant pest introductions and watch for pest
Immokalee. Faculty in UF's agronomy and entomology outbreaks throughout the nation. Still, new pests often
and nematology departments also are participating, are first detected by those involved in crop production
Wisler said the USDA-sponsored national network is and are identified by professionals at land-grant universi-
developing a Web-based plant pest diagnostic and re- ties and state labs."
porting system, which will help faculty and staff at UF
and other land-grant institutions submit plant samples,
digital images and detailed crop information for
20 IMPA C T
She said strengths of the system
"* rapid evaluation and reporting of
potential bioterrorist threats
"* quick response time for diagnosis,
real-time consultation with experts
"* Web-based secure communication
links among regional and national
"* established links to regulatory
agencies, including USDA's
APHIS (Animal, Plant Health
Inspection Service) and
agriculture departments in each
"* high quality and uniformity of
information associated with
"* high-quality record keeping and
reporting of pest outbreaks
"* trained network of "first
Howard Beck (352) 392-3196
email@example.com Gail Wisler, left, and Robert McGovern are co-directors of UF's new Southern Plant
Diagnostic Network, which includes faculty in plant pathology, entomology and nematology,
Bob McGovern (352) 392-3631 and agronomy. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
Tim Momol (850) 875-7154
Pam Roberts (239) 658-3400
Gail Wisler (352) 392-3631
I Sm !I
Tim Momol examines the fungal growth of a Howard Beck, displaying the image of a diseased tomato leaf on a laptop computer, is
pathogen at UF's North Florida Research and coordinating UF information technology for the regional diagnostic network. (Photo by
Education Center in Quincy. (Photo by Eric Eric Zamora)
Counting on a
Florida is home to an abundance of
intriguing wildlife, including the rare and
"endangered American crocodile. New
University of Florida surveys indicate the
scaly, toothy reptiles are making a comeback
in South Florida, and their continued
recovery may reflect an improvement in the
health of the Everglades.
he American crocodile, which lives in the extreme The survey shows the
southern tip of Florida and nowhere else in the number of American
continental United States, is an endangered crocodiles in South
species success story in progress. Florida has grown from
"If you see an American crocodile, the first thing you about 300 in the 1970s
should do is marvel at what you're looking at," said to almost 1,000 today.
Frank Mazzotti, an associate professor of wildlife and He said crocodiles, especially juveniles, are like barom-
ecology with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sci- eters warning of good conditions or bad the healthier
ences. "The reptile, which has been around since the age they are, the healthier the ecosystem. Crocodiles thrive
of the dinosaurs, was placed on the endangered species in estuaries, or areas with a mix of salt and fresh water.
list 25 years ago, and now it appears to be on the re- Small crocodiles grow faster and survive better in areas
"bound in South Florida." with more freshwater. The reptiles reflect the delivery of
As part of the federal South Florida Restoration Initia- freshwater to the estuaries, which are the most produc-
tive, Mazzotti recently led state and federal experts in tive ecosystems on Earth.
the first comprehensive survey of American crocodiles Restoring estuaries is critically important to the future
living in South Florida. During the two-month-long sur- of the Everglades, he said. State and federal governments
vey, which ended in April, scientists captured, marked have emphasized the importance of Everglades restora-
and recaptured the animals to measure their growth tion by supporting the $7.8 billion Comprehensive
and survival. Everglades Restoration Plan.
"It's the first time we've gone systematically from Approved in the Water Resources Development Act of
one end of the crocodile's range in Florida to the other, 2000, the 30-year plan is a guide for restoring and pre-
searching out every possible area to find out how serving water resources in Central and South Florida,
many there are and what condition they are in," he including the Everglades. In addition to correcting de-
said. "The survey is a good way to estimate the status cades of decline, the restoration plan is expected to
of the crocodile population and evaluate the success recover habitat for endangered species that live in these
of restoration." diverse ecosystems.
Research and Education Center, said the survey will pro- Florida Bay, they go at night when the animals are more
vide useful information as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife active. A powerful beam pierces the darkness, aimed at
Service considers reclassifying American crocodiles, the mangrove shoreline, looking for the tiny, orange re-
moving them downward from an endangered to a flections from crocodile eyes.
threatened species. "When we capture one, we measure the reptile and re-
He said the survey revealed that American crocodiles move some of the animal's tail 'scutes,' leaving a
are nesting in three South Florida locations, including permanent and harmless identifying mark on each ani-
the Everglades National Park, North Key Largo and the mal," Mazzotti said. "Then the crocodiles are allowed to
Florida Power and Light Company's nuclear generating swim away."
station in Homestead. During the survey, they also observed 93 alligators,
During the survey, Mazzotti and UF wildlife biologist which have dark black skin compared to the crocodile's
Mike Cheroiss observed 131 crocodiles and attempted to grayish-green skin. Crocodile snouts are sharp and
capture 83 of them. Forty-nine crocodiles were caught pointed while alligators have round, shovel
and 17 of these were previously marked animals, shaped snouts.
"The survey was very successful, and we observed Mazzotti said crocodiles live in mangroves where fresh-
more than 10 percent of the estimated crocodile popula- water and saltwater mix. Alligators live mostly in
tion in South Florida," Mazzotti said. "The biggest freshwater but also in brackish water, so the paths of
surprise was the recent dramatic increase in crocodiles in these often-mistaken animals do overlap. Both reptiles
the Cape Sable area of Everglades National Park." behave the same between species as within species.
". .. .... ...
Alligators and crocodiles do not mate with each other, Mazzotti said their research, based mainly on counting
but they will occasionally fight, and catching crocodiles, is decidedly low-tech. The most
According to Mazzotti, the American crocodile is the complex technologies they use are a Geographic Position-
least aggressive of all large crocodiles, and is much shyer ing System for locating animals and a computer for
than the common Florida alligator, data entry.
Laura Brandt, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biolo- "Otherwise, what we do is remarkably similar to turn-
gist who graduated from UF's College of Agricultural and of-the-century gladesmen," he said. "We have better
Life Sciences in 1997, said people commonly think the boats and bigger motors, which makes the work easier,
American crocodile is as fierce as its man-eating Austra- but we catch the crocodiles alive and release them un-
lian or African cousins, which is not the case. harmed, which makes the work harder."
"One of the biggest issues of restoration and the return Mazzotti said, "This survey took us from the lights
of crocodiles is educating people about the animals," she and shadows of the Miami skyline to the remotest areas
said. "As crocodiles return, there is going to be more in- of the Everglades wilderness truly a modern-day Ever-
teraction with them, and people are afraid of them. But glades adventure." Chuck Woods
the American crocodile is less aggressive than the alliga- Laura Brandt (561) 732-3684
6, Laura Brandt (561) 732-3684
tor, whose presence is often taken for granted." firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandt, who worked with Mazzotti and Cherkiss on Mike Chers ( )
Mike Cherkiss (954) 577-6382
the survey, said it was a cooperative effort involving email@example.com
UF, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wild-
life Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Frank Mazzotti (954) 577-6304
Conservation Commission. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Left photo) Frank
Mazzotti, left, and
Mike Cherkiss look
for crocodile nests
in Everglades Na-
tional Park during
the survey in March
2003. Mazzotti said
the survey revealed /
diles are nesting in
the park, on North
Key Largo and near
the Florida Power
and Light Compa-
(Photo by Thomas
(Right photo) Mike
Cherkiss weighs a I
found during an
evening search in
Park. The reptiles,
are like barometers
warning of good
conditions or bad -
the healthier they
are, the healthier
(Photo by Eric
Brian Jeffery, left, a UF wildlife
ecologist, and Mike Cherkiss
measure the length of a
crocodile captured at
Everglades National Park. The snouts of American crocodiles are sharp and pointed while
(Photo by Eric Zamora) alligators have round, shovel-shaped snouts. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
A -- -"
i "J i"
"_:; ,.,, '" ..' WI
When it comes to controlling one of the
world's most troublesome insect pests and
the deadly plant virus it spreads University
of Florida researchers say pesticides are out
and new environmentally friendly .. "
management programs are in.
D during the past two decades, tomato spotted- The solution, according
wilt virus has been spread around the world by to researchers at Quincy
tiny insects called thrips, causing millions in center, is to use a variety
"losses to a variety of vegetable, ornamental and agro- of new environmentally
nomic crops. friendly strategies known
"Epidemics of tomato spotted-wilt have been trouble- as integrated pest man-
some throughout the southern United States, cutting agement, or IPM.
yields by 20 percent to 30 percent on tomatoes," said IPM includes the use
Steve Olson, a professor of horticulture at UF's North of new cultural practices,
Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. "In natural insecticides, bio-
Florida and Georgia, where tomatoes and peppers are control agents or natural
valued at about $1 billion annually, farmers have been predators and a new
hit hard. The virus also affects peanuts, tobacco and treatment that boosts the
other crops." plant's immune system against viruses and
It can turn leaves brown, purple or bronze and fre- bacterial diseases.
quently kills the stem tips on plants. The virus also can "In North Florida and South Georgia, the incidence of
cause brown or yellow spots and rings on tomatoes and tomato spotted-wilt virus on tomato plants has been re-
other produce, making them unappealing to consumers duced by as much as 75 percent with a new plastic bed
and therefore unmarketable, cover that reflects ultraviolet (UV) light and repels
The virus is transmitted from plant to plant almost ex- thrips," said Tim Momol, an assistant professor of plant
clusively by several species of thrips. Western flower pathology at the Quincy center.
thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) and tobacco thrips "Instead of covering tomato plant beds with the stan-
(Efitsca) are the major species of concern in Florida. dard black plastic mulch, many growers have switched to
Until now, growers responded by spraying toxic, broad- the UV-reflective mulch, boosting tomato yields by as
spectrum insecticides in an attempt to control thrips, but much as 600 25-pound boxes per acre and increasing
the chemicals do not prevent transmission of the virus. profits by as much as $4,000 per acre," Momol said.
A .... -
Cipk1lemrics q tomato spotted-wilt
hafbeen troi~1rsolnie throughout the
soutfiern UnitR'Stats, cutting yields by
zpe e ecd on tomatoes. "
N -Steve 01.
Joe Funderburk, left, Steve Olson and Tim Momol check young tomato seedlings at UF's North Florida Research and Education Center in
Quincy. They said reflective mulch in combination with Actigard@ and insecticides can significantly reduce the incidence of tomato spotted-wilt
on tomatoes. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
"While the reflective mulch costs an extra $200 per are using the UV-reflective mulch. Its use is expanding to
acre, yield increases and higher returns justify its use," other production areas in the Southeast in 2003.
Momol said. He said a natural insecticide called spinosad, which
Dale and Greg Murray, owners of Murray Farms in poses little threat to field workers or the environment, is
Bainbridge, Ga., started using the UV-reflective mulch also helping growers control thrips on tomatoes. And, a
on a 32-acre tomato field in 2000. Dale Murray said the new immune-boosting treatment, which is marketed un-
incidence of tomato spotted-wilt virus was reduced from der the AAtigi.d trademark, is now being used by about
as much as 45 percent to 11 percent, boosting farm in- 45 percent of all tomato growers in the region.
come by about $1,000 per acre. "To control the virus on peppers, we're recommending
Joe Funderburk, a professor of entomology at the the use of a naturally occurring predator called the
Quincy center, said a recent survey showed that about minute pirate bug that attacks thrips," Funderburk said.
30 percent of the growers in North Florida and Georgia
Hank Dankers, left, Paula Bernsen and Tim Momol measure the soil temperature under UV-reflective plastic mulch at the Quincy center, which is
part of UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Dankers is a senior biological scientist at the center, and Bernsen is a former biological
scientist. (Photo by Eric Zamora)
"Nearly 100 percent of all pepper growers in North Flor- Olson, Momol and Funderburk developed and pro-
ida and South Georgia are using the beneficial bug, moted the new IPM control measures, and the
cutting pesticide costs by $100 per acre and boosting researchers are collaborating internationally so that the
crop yields by as much as 40 percent." program is adopted in other countries.
Unfortunately, the minute pirate bug is not effective The research is supported with funds provided by the
against thrips on tomatoes because the plants are toxic Gadsden County Tomato Growers Association and the
to the natural predator, he said. Florida Tomato Committee. The U.S. Department of Ag-
Tommy Smith, owner of Thomas Smith Farms in riculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and
Quincy, was the first pepper grower in the state to use Extension Service (CSREES) funded a grant to imple-
the minute pirate bug in 1997. Before he began using ment the program on tomatoes, peppers and other crops.
the natural predator, Smith lost two consecutive crops to Research and implementation of the program in the Car-
thrips and tomato spotted-wilt virus. Use of the biologi- ibbean Basin is supported by a USDA Special Grant.
cal control has reduced thrip populations by "at least 75 Chuck Woods
percent" in his pepper fields and eliminated the need for Joe Funderburk (850) 875-7146
insecticides he said Joe Funderburk (850) 875-7146
insecticides, he said. email@example.com
Glades Crop Care Inc. in Jupiter, Fla., the largest con-
sulting company in the Southeast, also uses the pest Tim Momol (850) 875-7154
control program on all of their acreage in Georgia and
Florida. Adoption of the program is expanding rapidly Steve Olson (850) 875-7144
throughout much of the southern United States and firstname.lastname@example.org
many other regions of the world, said Madeline Mel-
linger, president of the firm.
...*t o. ..
Gail Kauwell, left, and Lynn Bailey conduct folate research in the food science and human nutrition department. They used findings from their
work and other sources to develop folic acid educational materials in Spanish. (Photo by Tara Piasio)
Hispanic women, especially those of Mexican descent, have
almost twice the risk of bearing children with neural tube
defects, and mothers of Hispanic origin account for almost 20
percent of live births in Florida. The simple act of taking a
folic acid supplement can help a mother protect her unborn
child from neural tube defects.
T o help Hispanic women decrease their chance of learning disabilities, and problems with bladder and
having babies with neural tube birth defects, the bowel control. In some cases the brain does not develop,
University of Florida's Institute of Food and and the baby may be miscarried or die shortly after
Agricultural Sciences has developed Spanish-language birth. Kauwell said taking folic acid daily can help re-
nutrition materials about the benefits of taking folic duce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect.
acid. The materials explain the role of folic acid in reduc- "Research has shown that neural tube defect risk can
ing the risk of neural tube birth defects. be reduced up to 70 percent by taking an inexpensive vi-
Gail Kauwell, an associate professor in the food science tamin," Kauwell said. "The fact that a woman can
and human nutrition department, said babies born with protect her unborn child simply by taking a folic acid
neural tube defects can have a variety of health prob- supplement is remarkable, and that message needs to be
lems, including breathing difficulties, walking and conveyed to every female who can get pregnant."
In 1992, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended "Folic acid from a vitamin supplement is better ab-
that all women of childbearing age including teenage sorbed. However, foods that are rich in folate have other
girls take 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid vitamins and minerals that people should consume,"
daily. This was followed by similar recommendations Kauwell said. "It should be noted, though, that only syn-
from the March of Dimes and the Institute of Medicine thetic folic acid has been shown in studies to reduce
and is supported by professional organizations such as neural tube defects."
the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Following many women of childbearing age do not consume the
this recommendation is important for all women of re- recommended daily amount.
productive age, but especially for those in higher-risk Although more research is needed to determine
categories, like Hispanic women. .
"categories, li Hispanic women why Hispanic women are at higher risk, scientists think
The reasoning behind the daily intake recommenda- it is a combination of genetic, cultural and environmen-
tion is that the fetus can develop a neural tube defect tal factors.
before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.
before a woman even realizes she is pregnant. To ensure the folic acid message was accurately con-
"The neural tube is formed within the first 28 days of veyed to higher-risk Hispanic women, Kauwell and her
pregnancy, so by the time a woman finds out she's preg- colleagues conducted focus groups before completing the
nant, it's too late to use folic acid to prevent the defect," final version of the educational materials. Kauwell's col-
Kauwell said. "Women must understand that they need leagues included Lynn Bailey, a professor, Gail
to be taking folic acid at least one month before they Rampersaud, an associate-in, and Cindy Robles, a former
conceive a child. The best way to ensure that happens is graduate student, all from UF's food science and human
to take it every day during childbearing years." nutrition department, and Linda Bobroff, a professor in
The evidence for a link between folic acid intake and a the family, youth and community sciences department.
reduced risk of neural tube defects is so strong that it is These educational materials are a supplement to the
one of only 12 health claims approved by the Food and "Folic Acid Every Day" program initially developed by
Drug Administration for foods or dietary supplements. Kauwell and her colleagues for Florida's county public
However, scientists make a distinction between the health units and county extension offices. The original
two forms of the vitamin, known as folic acid and folate. program includes an educator's guide, lesson plans, vid-
Both are water-soluble B-vitamins, with folic acid being eos, interactive learning tools, slides and master copies of
the synthetic form that is in vitamin supplements and slides, handouts and recipes on a CD-ROM. The Folic
fortified foods. The term for the natural form is folate, Acid Every Day program recently was recognized with
which is found in orange juice, strawberries, dark-green the Gold Award in the UF/IFAS Image Awards Program.
leafy vegetables, and beans, including black, kidney and Chris Penko
Kauwell said people should include both forms of the (352)392 E. 2l
(352)392-1991, Ext. 227
B-vitamin in their daily diet. (-, .
Linda Bobroff, left, and Gail
Kauwell, right, review Spanish-
language educational materials
with registered dietitian Gail
Rampersaud, center. The
materials, which focus on the
role of folic acid in preventing
neural tube birth defects, were
developed for Hispanic women
who have an increased risk of
having babies with the condition.
(IFAS file photo)
JI : kT
The IFAS Extension Bookstore has hundreds of useful and interesting
educational books, videos and software CDs available at low prices. Whether
you're a farmer, a natural resource manager, a community educator, or simply
a backyard gardener, wildlife watcher or landowner, the IFAS Extension
bookstore has something for you. The three products below are just a
sampling of the materials available through the bookstore on topics such as
butterfly gardening, nutrition for the elderly, pesticide use and regulations,
invasive plant management, cattle ranching and growing citrus.
Pests that Best Practices
"muS-- Wreck A for Florida
YoRIt cs Your Grass Wines
Slu and Ruin
WENi l Wine enthusiasts, beginners
.- Your and wine industry specialists
will all benefit from this
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on winemaking and grape
Are lawn pests driving you crazy? Do you drive past production in Florida.
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that picture-perfect lawn and send those bugs packing history of wine production,
with Pests that Wreck Your Grass and Ruin Your Weekend. there are special regional considerations for making wine
This colorful, informative booklet is filled with the and growing grapes in Florida information you won't
information you need to defeat those troublesome pests, find anywhere else. The book includes information on
SP 327, $5.00 the entire wine-making process, from the grape-growing
to bottling. Enjoy! SP 316, $14.00
This moving video tells
the story of one farm
family's loss and their
recovery after one member
died in a tragic accident. In Visit the IFAS Extension Bookstore in
1986, Marilyn Adams' son Building on Mowry Road on the
Keith was killed when he Building 440 on Mowry Road on the
was submerged in flowing UF campus in Gainesville, or order
corn in a gravity-flow grain online at http://www.ifasbooks.com.
wagon. She came back from E-mail the bookstore at
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parents and children about Fax (352) 392-2628
dangers on the farm. This video puts a human face on
the importance of farm safety. SV 127, $20.00
..i UNIVERSITY OF
SFLORIDA NON-PROFIT ORG.
U.S. POSTAGE PAID
IFAS PERMIT NO. 94
Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources GAINESVILLE, FL
The University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
PO Box 110180
Gainesville, FL 32611-0180
Pht cu-s o Br Adam