Tuesday, September 1, 2015

USDA-NRCS SoilWeb App Shows You What's Under Your Feet

A free app available for iPhone and Android phones, SoilWeb provides users with in the field knowledge of the soil type wherever they are.  This smartphone app is the evolution of the Web Soil Survey online tool, a website which allowed users to explore soil information.  The app not only uses you smartphone GPS to give you all the text information about the soil series at your location, but it will also show a graphic of the soil horizon.  Having data in-field while making various decisions about management options will help users make more informed choices and will save time from having to physically dig the land up to learn the area. This tool will be useful for farmers, range land managers, conservationists, and anyone who may be concerned with managing land.

Excavated area showing soil horizons by Andrew Koeser, International Society of Arboriculture, Bugwood.org
Source Article: A Smartphone App Provides New Way to Access Soil Survey Information

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mind Your Business – Hydroponics for Profit

Interested in Hydroponics? Want to make a profit from them? Check out this workshop: Mind Your Business – Hydroponics for Profit.

Learn how to create budgets for your operation, evaluate profitability of alternative systems, assess food safety policies and marketing ideas to increase your bottom line. The workshop is hosted by the University of Florida IFAS Extension’s Small Farms Academy on September 17th from 8:30 am to 3 pm at the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center. Primary participant registration is $75 and $50 for one additional participant. Lunch and refreshments are included in cost. To sign up visit: 2015mindyourbusiness.eventbrite.com. Deadline to register is September 11th. For more information contact Dilcia Toro at dtoro@ufl.edu or 386-362-1725 ext. 102.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Redbanded Stink Bug, an Emerging Pest on Soybeans

Redbanded stink bugs (Piezodorus guildinii) has been present in soybean fields for decades, but they were not found in numbers to consider it a pest of economic concern.  Growers were much more focused on other stink bugs, such as the southern green stink bug, green stink bug and brown stink bug and tailored their control efforts to reducing damage from the more populous insects.  However, after decades of treating for the other species, the redbanded stink bug has also developed some resistance to organophosphates, allowing their numbers to swell enough for them to be noticed in scouting events and cause economic damage.  Scientists have also been able to attribute damage from these insects to delayed maturity syndrome of soybeans.  Researchers advise rotating chemical insecticide options to help control the redbanded stink bugs populations.

Redbanded stink bugs (Piezodorus guildinii) by Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Source Article: Entomologists sniff out new stink bug to help soybean farmers control damage

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fraxinus, A Crowd-Sourced Citizen Scientist game

There are a few well known crowd-sourced projects which are used by researchers to compute large amounts of data or find solutions to problems which would be to taxing or expensive for a normal computer.  Sometimes also called games with a purpose, the data is presented in such a way as to resemble more of a game rather than endless pages of numbers.  Think Foldit, Zooniverse/Galaxy Zoo, or EteRNA.

A recently published article discussed a crowd-sourced game, Fraxinus, which was used to study the genome of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, a fungus that causes ash dieback.  Fraxinus had players arranging sequences of DNA to make long chains of alignments.  Most interestingly, over half of the alignment answers, 74,356 of 154,038, were submitted by only 49 people, representing 0.7% of all the players.  The game proved again that crowd-sourced projects can be a viable tool to analyze large amounts of data and get the average citizen involved in the researching process.

European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), the species of trees which were infected by ash dieback by Robert Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

To learn more about Fraxinus: Lessons from Fraxinus, a crowd-sourced citizen science game in genomics

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mites, an Untapped Biocontrol Option?

Predatory mites for biocontrol in greenhouses by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

A new book, "Prospects for Biological Control of Plant Feeding Mites and Other Harmful Organisms," explores the history of and novel options for introducing mites to control invasive insects.  While earlier work was very narrowly focused on a few species of mites on a few introduced species, contributors to this book documented how many more mite species can be effectively used for more pest control options.

Check out the book!

Prospects for Biological Control of Plant Feeding Mites and Other Harmful Organisms

Monday, August 17, 2015

The second Bark & Ambrosia Beetle Academy!

Interested in bark and ambrosia beetles? The University of Florida’s Forest Entomology Lab is holding its 2nd Bark & Ambrosia Beetle Academy May 2-6, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. Local and International experts will be instructing “through hands-on labs, field demonstrations, lectures, and socializing”. Applied (May 3 and 4) and Academic (May 5 and 6) modules will be offered and you can choose one or both to participate in. According to the Academy’s site, “Each one includes extensive field trip and lab demonstration at the University of Florida and surrounding forests”. Sign up is encouraged as soon as possible as last year’s seats were filled within two months.
Open to researchers, students, extension agents, government insect identifiers, forest managers or anyone wanting to learn about bark and ambrosia beetles. Visit http://www.ambrosiasymbiosis.org/academy/ for more details.