Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Two Days of Landscape Talk

Last month marked the 2nd annual Urban LandscapeSummit. For two days researchers, state specialists and graduate students gathered on the UF campus to learn about new findings in landscaping and related topics. The following is a short summary from my perspective.

Big Moods
Day one began on a high note with wetlands and water quality expert Dr. Mark Clark’s expansive presentation on urban stormwater quality. I had never heard of “slab on grade” construction and found the complementing sections of Dr. Clark’s talk to be one revelation after another. Likewise for Dr. Hayk Khachatryan’s investigation of homeowners and alternative residential landscapses, as well as Dr. Gurpal Toor’s look at algal blooms and fertilizer bans in Florida.

Of course no summit would be complete without a look into the future and on day two researchers behind the Water 2070 report provided just that. Attendees got a feel for why Florida continues to attract new residents, how the 2070 report generated its future projections and what practices, including IFAS programs, can offer some sustainable solutions to the challenges ahead.
One welcome change from the previous landscape summit was this year's digital presence on Twitter. At least half a dozen accounts were live-tweeting from the event and IFAS had their new social media manager working in the audience.

IrriGator took advantage of the summit’s draw to interview a number of experts for future blog content. These included a IFAS Water RSAs Drs. Mary Lusk and Charles Barrett, whom actively maintain a presence on Twitter. I knew these agents from their tweet content before meeting them in person. Stay tuned for their insight on how digital presence can be a benefit to research and outreach. 

Graduate students play an important role in the summit event. They have an opportunity to share their research in 5 minute lightning sessions and they also present posters for judging.  
Best posters this year included:
  • PhD candidate Xumin Zhang for Investigating Homeowners' Preferences for Smart Irrigation Technology Features
  • Master student Allison Bechtloff with Producers Value Sterile Cultivar Research for Potentially Invasive Plants for the Horticulture Industry in the southeastern United States 
Looking Ahead
If nothing else, 2017’s Urban Landscape Summit established how salient many of these research areas are to the viability and sustainability of quality of life in Florida. Further, the “New Faculty” session indicates that the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology and IFAS are adding even more experts to work on these issues. See you next year! 

Editor's Note: many of the slide presentations from the summit 
are now available in PDF form here.

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