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: Deadline to register is September 11th. For more information contact Dilcia Toro at 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,

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.,

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,

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 for more details.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Screening Aids to Exotic Wood Borer/Bark Beetles

Pityogenes chalcographus, Robert Dzwonkowski,

Need more help in identifying Exotic Wood Borer/Bark Beetles? The USDA, along with the cooperation of Colorado State University and collaboration with Purdue University, released 11 screening aids August 13. According to the USDA-ITP’s release, the template and format from ITP’s first suite of screening aids (exotic Lepidoptera) were used to create the aids. Visit the Cooperative Agriculture Pest Survey community (CAPS) site to access the aids. They are available in both high and low resolution formats. Funding support is in the Section 10201 of the 2008 Farm Bill.   

Friday, August 7, 2015

Old World Bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) found in United States!

Todd Gilligan, LepIntercept, USDA APHIS ITP,

On June 17, 2015, one male Helicoverpa armigera (old world bollworm) was collected in a Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) pheromone trap in a field in Bradenton, Florida, USA. This moth is a serious agricultural pest globally, and this is the first detection in the U.S. outside of port interceptions. The caterpillars feed on a wide variety of field crops, the adults can fly long distances, and populations have repeatedly evolved resistance to many insecticides.

More information on this pest and news on the current situation can be found at

Aquarium & Pond Plants of the World, Edition 2.1

If you have ever needed a reliable source for identifying an invasive aquatic species, you might have waded through the USDA APHIS ITP’s “Aquarium& Pond Plants of the World” (APPW). Edition 2.1 was released yesterday. The USDA APHIS ITP announcement states APPW still has “fact sheets, images, an illustrated glossary, and an interactive key to support the identification process for over 140 genera of plant and plant-like organisms grown and used in the aquarium and pond plant trade”. The resource has been updated with a new design and increased user capabilities. The tool is now responsive for use across multiple platforms including smartphones and tablets.

                 Screen capture from APPW’s new home page.

APPW can be used to identify invasive species as it includes genera listed on the Federal Noxious Weed List. According to APPW, “As part of its effort to prevent the introduction of invasive or potentially invasive weeds, the USDA maintains an official list of ‘federal noxious weeds’ (FNW) (7 CFR 360.200 and 361.6).”

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Reduce Water, Fertilizer, and Fumigant Inputs by Changing Planting Bed

If you live in a more rural area, you may notice farmer's fields ribboned with rows of raised beds covered in plastic for growing tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and more. Typically, the beds are 36 inches wide and 6-8 inches tall and the input needs, such as water, fertilization, and and pre-planting soil pesticides, are added either before the plastic is laid, or added through a porous plastic hose laid under the plastic.  Plants are grown by punching a small hole in the plastic and either seedlings or seeds are planted in the small hole.  The plastic helps to regulate the moisture and temperature of the soil and will reduce the weed pressure on the crop.

Field preparation by Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo,

Recently, Dr. Sanjay Shukla, a researcher from the University of Florida, experimented with altering the width and height of the beds to evaluate if the change in shape would change the input needs of the crops.  He found out that by raising the height of the bed to 10-12 inches tall and reducing the width to 18-24 inches produced the same yield as the conventional beds, but needed less water, fertilizer, and fumigants.  It also reduces the amount of plastic needed in production, an important factor for waste reduction since the plastic is thrown out after it is unusable (1-2 crops/seasons).  So, how much money does he say this will this save growers?  Per acre: $100-300.  One eggplant grower in Florida has already switched over and says it saves him about $500/acre in equipment, fertilizer, and fumigation.

Tomato on conventional raised, plastic-mulched beds by Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo,

Source Article: Cutting cost, saving water and helping the environment by changing one simple thing

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Farming 23,000 Years Ago?

Previous research indicated that farming occurred approximately 12,000 years ago, but new finds at a well known site moves that date to approximately 23,000 years ago.  At the site of the Ohalo II people's camp in Israel's Rift Valley, researchers found evidence of weed species and tools associated with farming practices.  Finding evidence of seeds from so long ago is exceedingly rare due to fast decomposition.  However, this site was well protected from water and oxygen, allowing researchers to study the hunter-gatherer way of life.

Wild oat (Avena fatua) by Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration,

Some of the evidence discovered were weed species associated with cultivated fields and disturbed soils and a grinding slab.  Cereal grains were found distributed around the grinding slab, scarred with markings made by harvesting tools.  Also found were sickle blades, which indicated deliberate planning of harvest.

Source Article: TAU Among International Researchers to Discover First Evidence of Farming in Mideast

Monday, August 3, 2015

Asian Carp Found in Canadian Pond

Two male carp were observed on July 28 and crews from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada were deployed to the Tommy Thompson Park pond to catch the invasive fish.  The fish were first observed by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) staff and a subsequent electro-fishing excursion stunned the fish and they were able to be removed from the pond.  The fish were sent to a fisheries lab in Burlington, Ontario and were both determined to be fertile and of breeding age.  No one is sure how the fish were introduced to the pond, but their presence has several natural resources agencies on alert.

Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) by USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ,

Source Article: Notoriously invasive Asian carp found in Toronto