Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Saving Water Outdoors with Dr. Eban Bean

Last month I had the opportunity to assist Dr. Eban Bean, UF-ABE assistant professor in urban water resources engineering, during an equipment installation at research sites in Ocala. The residential locations feature cloud-based irrigation controllers (with mainline flow sensors), pressure-regulating spray bodies with multi-stream/multi-trajectory nozzles, and Florida-Friendly Landscaping! I could write an entire article just on how rare it is to see all those devices in one place! But the best part about these sites is what’s going on in the soil. Dr. Bean spoke with IrriGator on location to give us an inside look into this on-going research.

Research sites in Ocala (image E.Bean)
Where are we today?
EB: We’re at the sanctuary model home site within the On Top of the World development. Our study is looking at evaluating soil treatments and amendments to evaluate potential for irrigation reduction for turfgrass.

Can you tell us something about the treatments you’re studying?
EB: There are 10 homes in this model home site. Of those 10 we’re using 9 lots in our study. We divided them into 3 treatments.
  • One is the control – standard compacted soil that you might encounter after typical construction.
  • On another set of three we had the soil tilled down to a depth of about 5 to 6 inches.
  • And then on the last three sites we had the soil tilled but incorporated a compost amendment into the soil – that compost amendment would increase the organic matter which has been shown to increase soil water holding capacity. 

Tilling compost into the soil before adding sod (image E.Bean)
Tillage in agricultural settings has been shown to break up and mitigate compaction which would increase the amount of porosity or storage space in the soil to hold water. It will also allow for greater infiltration and maybe most important to the plant itself, it makes it a lot easier for the turfgrass or plants to put their roots into the soil and drive them deep.

Working with a cloud-based irrigation controller
Irrigation is an important aspect of this project. How are these landscapes being watered?
EB: These landscapes will be using the Hunter Hydrawise irrigation controllers, connected to a weather station that’s right here on the site. It will adjust irrigation based on the rainfall and weather conditions. We’re also putting soil moisture sensors in. Those are not controlling the irrigation. We’re just monitoring to evaluate what the difference in soil moisture is underneath the turfgrass. That should show us that if there’s more water that’s available, or higher soil moisture in the soils, then we wouldn’t need to irrigate as much and could cut back on the amount of irrigation that the turfgrass is receiving.

Text book soil moisture sensor installation 
Who else is collaborating on this study?
EB: Life Soils has provided the compost product – Command, a blend of sand and compost. Academic partners include Allan Bacon, from Soil Water Science, who is overseeing our soil sampling and analysis - looking at particle size distribution, soil organic matter, pH, bulk density and looking at how compact it is. From Environmental Horticulture, Jason Kruse is doing turfgrass evaluation monthly – measuring the level of greenness, doing biomass harvesting and looking at other metrics for turf quality as well. 

Lloyd Singleton prepares a soil sensor data logger
Lloyd Singleton from Sumter County Extension is working on this as part of his Masters in Agroecology. He’s looking at the water-balance and water metrics here. On Top of the World has been a fantastic partner. These model homes won’t be lived in for up to 5 years and our study is going at least 2 years. I can’t speak highly enough about their cooperation and how they’ve helped with coordinating the construction, development and amendments. It’s a great project to be on and part of this is working with such great partners.

What is the big picture impact here? This data can help inform which practices?
EB: This study is a proof of concept to look at the benefits of two practices: tillage just by itself and also the incorporation of a compost amendment. Those could be seen as two different recommendations. We can recommend tillage to some depth. We can also recommend tillage with a compost amendment. The big picture here is looking at ways that we can reduce irrigation. Here we’re in the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the numbers I’m aware of suggest somewhere around 60% of a home’s water use goes to landscape irrigation.  

Soil moisture sensor data logger in action 
On Top of the World is a unique opportunity. When this development received its water permit, it agreed to a water-use rate of 150 gallons per home daily, which is much less than typical usage (around 250 gallons daily). They are really looking at ways that they can reduce water consumption. Everything inside the home is high-efficiency, so the landscape is an opportunity where we can have some cost savings, and it’s also a place where a lot of water is used any way. They’re already using Florida-Friendly Landscaping here which reduces irrigation demand. 
Dr. Bean informs development & water district staff on the study
(image E.Bean)
So we’re looking at ways to further reduce water-use by causing the turfgrass to need less irrigation and potentially have some additional benefits with the compost providing some nutrients and reduce the need for fertilizer. The big picture here is can we give homeowners the same turfgrass experience and use less water. That’s the objective here: the same quality of turfgrass – same look, same feel – but it just doesn’t require as much water. That is a win for everybody: the producers, the water managers, the developers, the consumers. If we can make that more efficient that is a big plus for everybody.

Lloyd Singleton, urban horticulture agent with Sumter County Extension, presents on this research during day one of this week's Urban Landscape Summit.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Urban Landscape Summit 2017

Next week UF/IFAS state specialists, researchers, and graduate students are converging on the UF campus in Gainesville for the 2nd Urban Landscape Summit. The summit promises two days of presentations on new landscape-related research from both faculty and students. There will also be plenty of opportunities to meet presenters and think about how new findings might be applicable to your local program. IrriGator spoke with Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology Director Michael Dukes for an insider perspective on the event. We end with a closer look at several of the many presentations slated for March 16th & 17th.

IG: This is the second year for the Urban Landscape Summit. How is this year different?

MD: This year is different because people now know what it’s about. Thematically, we have quite a bit of water topics this year. Part of the reason for that is because we’ve invited our new water cohort faculty – Drs. Bean and Barrera - to present at the summit, as well as the new regional specialized agents in water, most of them will be there presenting.  In landscapes it’s always a heavy water focus, whether it be water quality or water quantity. So while some things are the same, the new faces that we’ll have there this year, that will be a difference.

IG: Is there some aspect of the summit you’re most looking forward to this year?

MD: I’m excited about our two keynotes. First we have Dr. Mark Clark, who is a water quality specialist and he’ll be talking about urban water quality. He’s a really good speaker and he has a strong background in water quality. On the second day we have a keynote group – the Water 2070 team. They are going to be talking about the report that was released last year on projected water consumption and the impact of land development on water resources in Florida.

The new faculty session is also noteworthy. These are four new faculty. Three are on board and we’re in the final stages of negotiating with the fourth. Dr. Eban Bean is an urban water resources engineer. Dr. Basil Iannone is a geospatial analytics specialist. And Dr. Jorge Barrera is a utility analytics specialist. The fourth is an urban water quality person. We wanted them at the summit because they are going to get a really great chance to network with a lot of our other specialists and county faculty working in these areas. Both groups need to know each other.

IG: For anyone on the fence, why attend the summit?

MD: The primary purpose of the landscape summit right now is to facilitate communication with our own organization. We’re big. There are a lot of people going in different directions doing great things in Florida, but you just don’t really learn what people are doing unless you attend an event like this. It’s not the same to get an email update on something or read a newsletter. You’ll have a chance to interact with experts in different areas personally. Ask questions. I think that is the unique part about the summit. We will have stakeholders there as well. Our advisory board is composed of external stakeholders. Why should you attend? To learn. To learn who is who and who is doing what.

Stuart, FL: What are the nutrient drivers of algae blooms? (via AP
Summit Highlights
  • When addressing water quality issues in Florida urban water bodies, is there a mismatch between policy and science? Dr. Gurpal Toor presents on data looking at the sources, origin, and speciation of nitrogen (N) to better understand the science of N transport from urban land to water bodies. 3/16 @ 1PM EST 
  • Expectations are high about the potential benefits of using data sciences (especially on big data sets) to solve or at least help in the solution of complex environmental issues. Dr. Jorge Barrera presents on the definition of Big Data and ongoing projects that address environmental problems from a data sciences perspective. 3/16 @ 3PM EST 
The Summit features talks on efficient water-use, smart irrigation, and pressure-regulated sprinklers!
  • How do you save 6 million gallons of water in Miami-Dade County? Easy! Develop a water conservation program that attracts high profile, high water-users looking to benefit from water efficient recommendations based on UF/IFAS research and free EPA WaterSense-certified smart irrigation controllers. Laura Vasquez presents the success story on 3/17 @ 11AM EST 
  • Is knowledge gained an adequate indicator of behavior change? PhD candidate Taylor Clem presents a study applying Paul Stern’s Values-Beliefs-Norms (VBN) theory as an evaluation model to better anticipate behavior change and other long-term changes from extension programs. 3/16 @ 10:45AM EST 
You can register for the Urban Landscape Summit here

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

CLCE Director: An Educated Public is the Most Direct Path to Positive Change

The 2nd Urban Landscape Summit is just around the corner. To highlight this informative occasion, for the next three weeks we’ll be posting related topics, including a Summit preview and an interview featuring one of UF ABE’s newest faculty whom will be presenting during the summit. We begin with a recent article by Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology Director Dr. Michael Dukes on the valuable role IFAS plays in a state where water is at once controversial, plentiful, and in high demand.

Protecting the water we'll need for the 15 million additional residents projected to live here in 50 years calls for us to start right now by getting today's 20 million Floridians on board with a conservation ethic.
The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has a special responsibility as the state's leading public institution providing the science to make this happen. After decades of work and significant accomplishments, we can see that so much still needs to be done.
Dr. Michael Dukes and Bernard Cardenas in turfgrass research plots
That's why we believe the gifted nature photographer and defender of springs John Moran performs an important public service in highlighting the importance of water in Florida (see article).
We need people with his passion and his talent for communicating, whether through his images or his contributions to The Sun. Although UF/IFAS leads the way on water science in Florida, we do not have a monopoly on the topic.
UF/IFAS is on the cutting edge of water-saving science with technologies such as phone apps and high tech irrigation controllers that tap into soil moisture data and weather forecasts to tell people when to water and, equally importantly, when not to. They can cut your water usage by 20 percent without browning your lawn.
Dr. Kati Migliaccio and the smartirrigation turf app
We have UF/IFAS Extension agents in every county to familiarize homeowners and growers with these kinds of tools. These agents also work with builders and developers, a number of whom are building these technologies into their new communities. And they work with homeowners' associations to educate them about water-conserving practices and to encourage them to adopt new ideas. If all new homes followed suit, we estimate that we'd save 1.8 billion gallons a year — enough to provide 30,000 homes in Florida with water for a year of indoor consumption.
The UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, which I lead, provides easy-to-understand information on wise water use through its Florida-Friendly Landscaping program that serves all Floridians. Some, like Moran, choose no water or fertilizer for their landscapes. Others are obligated to maintain their landscapes by the rules of homeowners' associations.
Florida-Friendly signage at the UF/IFAS Landscape Unit
We're not in the business of telling people to have a lawn or not. Instead, using the best available science, we inform all kinds of property owners who want to know how much to water and to fertilize. It's powerful information because it can demonstrate how natural resource protection and financial savings often go hand in hand.
UF/IFAS has recently invested in making further progress in Florida by hiring five regional specialized water extension agents, each based in one of the five state water management districts. These agents will communicate science to water users of all kinds. In addition, UF/IFAS is hiring four faculty to join a team in what we call environmentally resilient, resource-efficient land use. This team will focus on further understanding patterns of water use and water quality threats from development and seek ways to address those threats.

Stand-alone weather-based irrigation controllers at a commercial property in Orange County
The public hungers — dare I say "thirsts?" — for such information. A recent UF/IFAS survey indicated that residents would like more information on how to conserve water and that they would respond to incentives such as rebates to adopt new technologies such as smart irrigation controllers.
Getting this information out will be critical to protecting the natural resources that make Florida such a special place.
Moran's opinion is that "we'd do just fine without lawn sprinklers and fertilizer. And Florida would be a better place." Yet many others enjoy gardening that requires irrigated landscapes. Much of the development in recent decades has occurred through subdivisions with homeowners' associations where landscaping is required.
Presenting to growers during Field Day at SVAEC in Live Oak
UF/IFAS does not make public policy. We believe an educated public is the most direct path to positive change. We appreciate the efforts of Moran and other activists who seek to influence public policy, because their efforts can give our science a boost by raising awareness about a resource that can go unnoticed until a crisis such as an algae bloom.
We at UF/IFAS are proud of our work on water quality and conservation. For example, UF/IFAS work on developing guidelines for agricultural practices has contributed to a 79 percent reduction in the amount of phosphorus — a main element in fertilizer — in farm water flowing into the Everglades.
But we must do more — a lot more — together. UF/IFAS and its Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology will continue to provide the unbiased science that has made us the first place that Floridians — whether they're homeowners, farmers, water district managers, or legislators — look for solutions to our water challenges.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Florida-Friendly Landscaping in Practice

Last year we collaborated with the UF/IFAS Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program (FFL) to produce two videos featuring regional landscape architects describing how FFL principles influence their design work.
Personal Insight
In my tech career I have evaluated irrigation systems at countless South Florida-based Homeowners Associations and large developments. 9 times out of 10, poor landscape and irrigation system design go hand in hand. For instance, why design for turf in areas residents can neither see nor easily access and then water that turf so excessively that the wood fence bordering said area steadily rots in place? Such design oversights are a source of never-ending maintenance and replacement expenses.

Meet the Architects
Daniel Dameron is a Spring Hill-based landscape architect. What’s interesting about Mr. Dameron’s story is how the success of his designs in the common areas of a large development gave residents a firsthand look at FFL and helped dispel fundamental misconceptions about low-maintenance landscaping.

Jeremy Wilhelm is a landscape architect working in Sarasota. Large developments often hire Mr. Wilhelm to reign in their maintenance expenses through FFL-focused redesign. In our interview, Mr. Wilhem offered great tips applicable to both residential and HOA-sized landscapes.

Design Will Save the World
What these videos showcase is two designers using FFL principles to guide their work at both a large and small-scale. More importantly, this content underscores that great landscape design is not only pleasant to look at and be around, but it can also have significant impact on use of resources and maintenance costs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

UF/IFAS: Leading the State in Water Science

It can take two to three years from the time I decide new scientists are needed to focus on a Florida challenge to the time I can actually make them employees of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

That’s why UF/IFAS got started years ago expanding our expertise in water. It has always been essential to our day-to-day lives, of course. In 2016, there was increased public focus on how critical it is to our future.

·       A survey of Floridians by the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education found that more than 4 in 5 Floridians identified water as a highly or extremely important issue. Water ranked even higher than the economy.
·       The Water 2070 report concludes that without major efforts in conservation and compact development, we cannot support the agricultural productivity and population increases projected in the next 50 years.
·       The state legislature made water legislation the first item on its 2016 agenda. Regardless of the merits or faults of the approved law, it marked water as one of the state’s most prominent political issues.
Have you read the Water 2070 report?

And in 2016, UF/IFAS hired numerous water experts to make sure our response to the water challenge is guided by science.

·       We hired five regional specialized water Extension agents, who will work with state agencies to devise and communicate ways to protect the quality and quantity of our supply.
·       Our new state-funded faculty hires include experts such as Jorge Barrera, who will analyze large data sets from water utilities, urban water engineer Eban Bean, and geospatial analysis expert Basil Iannone.

You can meet Drs. Barrera and Bean, and some of the new Extension specialists at the 2017 Urban Landscape Summit on campus in Gainesville on March 16-17.

Let's Talk Summit
It’s the second annual summit, organized by Michael Dukes of the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology.

It brings many of our water experts together from across the state for discussions of irrigation, fertilizer bans, water-saving smartphone apps, consumer perceptions, reducing algal blooms, and more, all underpinned by an ethos of conservation.

You can register for the summit here

The summit is yet another example of how UF/IFAS continues to establish itself as the state’s leader in water science.

The Urban Landscape Summit also includes student lightning presentation sessions
Water is an issue so fraught with politics that good policy has to rely on neutral brokers of information. Public land-grant universities such as UF are positioned to serve in this role because we seek discovery, not profit. Our comprehensive expertise also enables us to assemble scientists from a wide variety of fields to focus on a single problem.

The summit won’t be a water-only affair, but water will flow through much of the agenda. It will also be a debut of sorts for our expanding water brain trust.

Of course, Dr. Dukes and our other established leaders in conservation will participate in the summit as well.

Dr. Saqib Mukhtar judges a student poster at Urban Landscape Summit 2016
I’m proud that Dr. Dukes has invited me to open the summit. It gives me the opportunity to reemphasize the UF/IFAS commitment to conservation. It will also be an opportunity to talk about what Water 2070 recommends – more support for Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ to get us off the unsustainable course of our state’s growing thirst.

Jack Payne is the University of Florida’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Meet James Fletcher – Water RSA in Central District

In December I ran into James Fletcher at the Weather & Climate Decision Tools Conference in Gainesville. Since IrriGator is trying to speak with and learn about all 5 Water Regional Specialized Agents IFAS hired in 2016, Mr. Fletcher agreed to share a little about the Central District where he works:

James Fletcher - Water RSA, Central District
What are you most excited about in this new RSA position with IFAS?
I’m most excited about going back to doing actual programming and working with growers. My previous work was mostly administrative. Now I’m back in the field.

What do you see as the most pressing water issues in the Central District?
I see three things that are issues: The first which I’ve been working on now for four years is the Central Florida Water Initiative, which is about water supply planning – both for urban supply as well as ag supply. I’ve chaired the conservation team for two years and now I’m chairing the ag sub team for that committee to figure out demand use for agriculture.
Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns Counties make up the Tri-County Ag Area (via SJRWMD)
Second thing is the Tri-County Ag Area, which would be Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns Counties – has a lot of agriculture and there’s a lot of transitioning of crops and a lot of issues with water quality, salt intrusion, those kinds of things.

The newest area is the Springs Initiative. We’re trying to get some stuff done in Volusia County. I have a potential project in Marion County looking at sod production on homeowners’ yards – looking at Florida-Friendly Landscapes and seeing if we can’t control water use and also control water quality.

Is it accurate to say that most of your work is ag-focused rather than urban?
My background is strongly related to agriculture. The Central Florida Water Initiative is urban/ag so I’ve had to learn the urban side of it because landscapes use the most water. We’re doing a lot of work with landscape irrigation. Some of the work Drs. Dukes and Migliaccio have done related to looking at turf irrigation is critical for what we do in our area because we’re very urbanized. 

Water RSAs with Dr. Michael Dukes last fall in Gainesville (via Dr. Migliaccio)
Orlando has adopted some ordinances related to smart controllers based on some work Dr. Dukes has done so we’ll continue that work. The work that we’re doing in Marion County is in a place called Top of the World, which is a large urban development. The consumptive use permit on per household basis allows them to use 150 gallons per day. Traditionally most users use 250 – 300 gallons. So we have to figure out how we irrigate that yard with less water. And also with the Springs Initiative and looking at mainly nitrates in the springs we have to look at how we stop nitrogen getting there.

Background from left: Bob Hochmuth, Andrea Albertin, Lisa Krimsky, Mary Lusk, Charles Barrett and James Fletcher (via UFWater)
How would you characterize a successful first year for you as water RSA of the Central District?
The 5 water RSAs are something completely new for UF/IFAS. We’re learning as we go. I think we have developed good relationships among the 5 of us and we’re beginning to work on joint programming. Some of the goals that I would like to see include an In Service Training for Mobile Irrigation for our homeowners – 3 trainings involving all 5 RSAs. We’re creating an irrigation manual that can be used statewide. We’re also getting to know each other’s districts. We’ve done a tour up in the Suwannee County area and then went out to the panhandle. In January we’re going down to the Tampa area and in March we’ll be over in District 5 – South Florida area. Learning what are the critical issues to the state of Florida instead of just my region – if we can all together grasp that it will be a real benefit. So the challenge is developing a program from scratch where there are no guidelines in place on what the positions do. The good news is we were all hired with an area of expertise – marine, septic systems, stormwater, agriculture, urban or policy. Most of the work I do is policy so I hope I can provide that expertise to the other districts.   

Follow the Water RSAs on Twitter
Read about Water RSA Lisa Krimsky - South District

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Observations, Evidence and Turf Management - A UF/IFAS Turf School Interview

Turf and irrigation go hand in hand. So you can imagine my excitement last summer when I heard that a two day Turf School was being organized in South Florida by top UF/IFAS Turf Specialists. I was not able to attend, but I mentioned it to every extension agent I encountered working in water or horticulture. For 2017 there are two Turf Schools on the docket: one next week and one in April. Assistant Professor and Turf School organizer Dr. Travis Shaddox was kind enough to speak with IrriGator about turf and the upcoming schools.
Dr. Travis Shaddox
How did the turf school begin and what inspired it?
The very first ever turf school was August 24/25 of 2016. We modeled it after the palm school which is held around the state - the two faculty, Drs. Monica Elliot and Timothy Broschat are stationed here with me in Fort Lauderdale. They’ve had quite a bit of success over the years with that format. When I came in from the industry (I worked in the industry for 10 years) I had a different perspective from some folks and I saw this as a great need for the industry. So when I came in Drs. Elliot and Broschat already had a system set up for their palm school so I copied that over with the assistance of Drs. Jason Kruse and Bryan Unruh. We put a date on the calendar and said let’s get it going. I think all three of us have seen a great need from the industry to get timely and current research information to them directly from the researchers doing the work.
What can an attendee expect at the turf school?
The entire content is turf. Whether it’s a fertilizer distributor, or sod farmer, or golf course superintendent, or a homeowner, or a lawn care operator, or UF faculty - whoever is interested in learning an evidence-based approach to turf management, this is what the class does. This is how we differ from a lot of the current opportunities for education that exist through various other venues. On each slide we cite a refereed publication source for the information we’re providing. This is not anecdotal information. This is not observational information that we’re giving the audience. This is evidence that exists in the scientific literature. This is how we’ve set it up and it provides, in my opinion, a very clear, concise, unbiased approach to disseminating this information to the industry.
Register today for the Pest Management Turf School
For the pest turf school (coming up at the end of this month) the entire content is based on the four primary pests that turf managers encounter: nematodes, weeds, diseases and insects. What attendees can expect is some basic information in the form of a lecture, then following that up with a laboratory exercise looking through microscopes at nematodes, or looking at diseases, identifying certain insects and so forth - hands-on activities to reinforce the content of the lecture. The opportunity here is not just learning in the class but also learning by doing hands-on exercises or going out into the field and actually observing what the presenter provided in the lecture - basically using an alternative method of learning that often times people value.

Dr. Jason Kruse instructs on soil/water dynamics during the previous Turf School (via turfnet)
During the Water, Temperature, Light and Nutrition turf school (2016) we did an exercise in the laboratory. And they just couldn’t figure it out. It was step one, step two, step three. And they just followed the instructions – dealing with water movement in soils. And one of the attendees looked at me and said “Dr. Shaddox, this just doesn’t make any sense. How is this happening?” And I said well, you know, this is what’s happening. And he goes “so what you’re saying is…” I said no, no. I’m not saying that. You’re saying that. You’re the one doing it. And because he was the one doing it, it was just baffling to him. Because he was the one doing it, I think it really drove the message home to make the point of what we were saying in the lecture portion regarding water. It’s really gratifying to see those attendees, they were just blown away. 
Register today for the Water, Temperature, Light and Nutrition Turf School
What are some simple ways to stay a step ahead of pests with your turf?
One way of staying a step ahead of anything on turf is to be aware of the environment. Turf managers are not just managing turf. Their responsibilities are vast. They’re primarily dealing with people. They can often times lose track of what’s going on environmentally. The seasons generally are the same year to year and the activity of pests is generally the same every year, at least correlated to the seasons. For example, if a superintendent or turf manager loses track of what season it is they may not recognize how early in the season weeds would germinate. Weed germination occurs, now you’re dealing with a post-emergent herbicide application rather than a pre-emergent herbicide application because pre-emergent is no longer valuable after weeds have germinated. 

To stay a step ahead a turf manager would lay out an annual calendar of when certain things generally occur and back up the date accordingly to allow for purchasing a certain product, or timely application of cultural practices and so forth, so that when those pest populations begin to influence the turf you’re already one step ahead. Responding to the problem after you’ve seen it is often times more costly than preparing prior to that. Be aware of the environment and be aware of how pests tend to elevate populations in correlation to the environmental factors.  

Despite turf being considered Florida-Friendly, in some circles there is criticism about the resource inputs required to maintain it. Any thoughts?
I think labeling or identifying any plant by a specialist who is not a specialist in that plant is na├»ve. If statements are being made about any landscape plant I would hope that it’s being made by a specialist on that plant. If it’s not then I would discount that information. At the end of the day whatever information is provided by IFAS must be reinforced with evidence not observation. Observations are the beginnings of the scientific process. Evidence is the result of the scientific process. Those are two different things.

What is the capacity for turf school registration?
40 seats are available for a fee and 5 are available for state and county extension agents. State and county extension agents are not charged the registration fee. There are still a number of spots available for the January event but we expect those to be filled soon.

Photosynthesis demonstration during the previous Turf School (via Dr. Unruh)
Everybody that left the first event, they were all extremely content. They didn’t have any concerns at all. This event is not sit down and listen to someone lecture. It’s conversational and interactive. It’s cross-discipline in terms of turf industry – you have sod producers and golf course superintendents. You have people asking questions that other people in other industries might not have ever thought of. Through that interaction in the group a lot of attendees end up getting information that they never dreamed they would get from sitting there listening to a lecture because somebody in the audience asked a question that they never even considered.