The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida is a tremendous resource for communities throughout the state because growers have access to knowledge, best practices, and support related to natural sciences. The IFAS mission of developing knowledge, human and natural resources includes making information accessible to the public. The support the organization provides has spurred economic growth throughout the state.
According to the UF/IFAS Briefing Book, the institute has existed in Florida in some form since the 1880s, but it did not receive the name Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences until 1964. The IFAS is part of The University of Florida, which is a public land-grant institution. It receives federal support and has a mandate to improve the state’s agricultural and natural resource industries. The organization encompasses 14 academic departments and has three main units – teaching, research, and extension.
Scope & Industries
Florida is home to an abundance of agricultural and natural science-related businesses. According to the IFAS, the state has more than 47,000 farms averaging 200 acres that produce a variety of food stuffs. The state is primarily a specialty grower of approximately 300 crops, including citrus fruits. Other produce such as cultivated greens, watermelons, snap beans and sweet corn are large sources of revenue. Seafood, cattle, and dairy products are also important for the state.
While crops and food production are a major source of the state’s agricultural output, the IFAS also supports non-food commodity operations. Forest operations, such as paper and lumber, are also important products in Florida, as is natural gas and petroleum. The IFAS works with all producers in the state on multiple levels to support revenue growth and efficiency in the production process. Through its three main units, the IFAS assists these growers and producers.
The teaching unit boasts a number of accomplishments, including the largest doctoral program related to agriculture in the United States. Undergraduate programs at the school comprise a wide spectrum of agricultural and natural science subjects. Other subjects such as veterinary medicine are also extremely important to the cattle and farm industries in the state. The teaching unit performs a number of education-related functions, including seminars and free instructional materials available to proprietors in the industry.
The research unit encourages, enhances and promotes the study of science, focusing on agriculture and natural sciences. The extension unit sends a variety of experts into the community in an effort to educate and foster the improvement of agricultural production in the state. Experts in a variety of natural science specialties help proprietors of all sizes, to protect the environment and increase productivity.
Relevance to Sod/Turfgrass
Whether it’s the subject of irrigation, pesticides, weed management or sod production, IFAS has resources and supplementary guides for property owners and businesses. You can learn about turf irrigation for your personal home, along with techniques for changing water levels throughout the year, to optimize your water usage and sod health. The wealth of information provided helps owners of landscaping take care of their property and protect their investment in lawns.
For example, the IFAS has a list of potential pests that can impact your landscaping, along with hints for identifying the root cause of sod destruction or death. Bugs that can impact your lawn include billbugs, grasshoppers, mole crickets, tropical sod webworms, spittlebugs, cutworms and grass loopers. Each of these insects can be studied in detail, for free, via the IFAS webpages and publications.
Subjects covered by the IFAS include:
-Pesticides and insect reduction
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