Whole-Farm Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Video Series Released

If you want to know the best ways to manage pests via integrated pest management, you can find all of the information you need in a series of video modules created by University of Florida IFAS Extension faculty. These IPM strategy modules are targeted for those looking to implement IPM strategies either on a whole-farm or whole-landscape level.

These modules were developed at the UF IFAS Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center near Live Oak, Florida, where the 300-acre farm has been transformed into a Living IPM-Laboratory that puts IPM strategies into real-life situations. Under this long-range plan, the farm has implemented several innovative IPM strategies to manage pests and has reduced pesticide use by more than 50%. These strategies include: farm-scaping and whole-farm systems, trap crops and banker plants, trapping arrays, native pollinator enhancement, scouting and selecting pesticides wisely conservation tillage and cover crops, birds and bat utilization for pest reduction, establishment of “plants with a purpose”, fence lines and hedge rows, pest exclusion, and protected agriculture.

IPM field Lab
Overview of the IPM Field Laborotary

“This farm is a real teaching field laboratory and based on our weekly scouting data we have seen significant reductions in pest pressure over the past six years,” said Bob Hochmuth, UF/IFAS Extension Center Director.

sunflower ipm
Sunflowers are used as trap crops

“The UF/IFAS Extension team provides training at the farm and encourage farmers to visit the farm to observe the IPM system for themselves,” Hochmuth said. “However, with the videos we are creating a lasting resource that can be accessed by anybody at anytime.

The videos were created with the objective to share with growers our successful experience at the farm, according to Hochmuth.

Watching the short video modules will give you the ability to learn the most effective ways to implement IPM strategies efficiently. Ten videos and follow-up resources are available to the public.. These video modules are now available on the UF IFAS Virtual Field Day web site at http://vfd.ifas.ufl.edu.

The direct link to the IPM Whole Farm Modules is http://vfd.ifas.ufl.edu/whole-farm-ipm.shtml.

For more information on the IPM Whole Farm Project contact Bob Hochmuth at 386-362-1725 x103 or email bobhoch@ufl.edu

This ongoing project is supported with funding from University of Florida IFAS, USDA NIFA Extension IPM Program, Southern Region IPM Center, and Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) Program, and the Suwannee Conservation District.

Localecopia Marketplace: Driven by the Mission of Promoting Local, Sustainable Business

By Geoffrey Sagrans
Localecopia President

FPA 12694 Final logo PMS [Converted]When Localecopia, Inc. (501c3) opened in 2007 in Palm Beach, FL, the general focus was to repair the disconnect between local producers and local consumers.  This focus was pursued through avenues like discussions, meetings and education of our current food system.  In 2010 Localecopia subsidiary, Localecopia Marketplace, L3C was formed.   The Marketplace was established as another avenue of the overall focus by physically connecting local food to end users.

The goal of Localecopia Marketplace was to deconstruct the complex supply chain web that has been built over the years.  Instead of multiple products being sourced through farms around the world with multiple brokers and distribution systems, the idea for the Marketplace was much more simplistic. First, end users would order food from local suppliers, Localecopia Marketplace would pick these items up from the local suppliers to deliver directly to the end users.   With this simplified formula the product would not “touch” multiple people, there would not be long travel times, fresh produce could be procured where the primary focus was on “taste” not “travel,” product would not sit on a shelf for days and products would be delivered direct shortly after being produced/harvested.

Source: UF/IFAS
Source: UF/IFAS

To add to this formula, those who started Localecopia Marketplace realized that true transparency was missing in the current marketplace.  The founders believed consumers should know where their food comes from.

As a limited liability organization guided by the overall non-profit mission, the goal of Localecopia Marketplace has always been one of “sustainability” and not “profitability.”    Michael Guenther, Director of Logistics for Localecopia Marketplace puts it this way — ”as long as we are not losing money, we’ll find a way to get it there.”

Fast forward to 2015.

Localecopia Marketplace currently services hotels, restaurants and school districts throughout the Florida during growing season.   Getting to this point has been far from easy.   Operators in all parts of the supply chain have operated a certain way for years.   The idea of change is a scary one that some people are either scared of or resist.   The way Localecopia Marketplace operates lends itself to many obstacles.  However,  by completing one operation at a time, end users are starting to figure out the value of connecting with locally-produced items.   Hotels, restaurants and schools understand the impact local food can have on a community as well as the potential impact on regional agriculture and the affect on quality of the final product offered to consumers.

Whether you are a farmer, distributor, chef, policy maker or consumer, you play a role in the state’s food system. Visit Localecopia’s website here: http://www.localecopia.org/ and connect with this exciting effort to build a healthier food system.

Vertical Integration & Diversification: Building a Successful farm operation in Central Florida

By Lana Nasser

blueberriesHillfarm
Blueberries growing at Southern Hill Farms

Central Florida’s Southern Hill Farms was not always the well-known u-pick blueberry
operation Florida residents flock to today. The Clermont based  family-owned farm originally produced ornamental trees and found themselves in a recession during 2010.

The Hill family decided to venture into growing blueberries as an alternative crop with the intention of reaching local and wholesale markets. Their efforts have paid off, they currently market their 40 acres of blueberries through a successful U-pick operation and their brand new packing pacility. In this way, diversified levels of production come together to satisfy a common need.

The U-pick operation is very profitable, as we don’t have the packing, harvest and transportation costs and the blueberry market is going to be saturated, said Michael Hill, a part owner and operator of Southern Hill Farms. Hill was one of the speakers at the Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference held at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka on November 6, 2015.

According to Hill, the farm’s U-pick operation provides more than just pints of blueberries to consumers.

“I see this as a cool thing, you have the chance to teach the public where their food comes from, we see it as a community service,” Hill said.

The Hill Family
The Hill Family

By growing blueberries and adding a farm store, as well as consulting and tree edging service businesses, the farm has pursued diversification to grow. However, diversification is important, but to an extent. According to Hill, if a farm diversifies too much it could lead to being spread too thin.

As for the ornamental tree business the market is beginning to level out once more, giving opportunity for Southern Hill Farms to engage in their original crop, but the blueberries have proven to be recession-proof, Hill said.

Through methods of diversification and vertical integration those looking to grow crops and well-established growers alike can learn how to shift their means and end results of production according to the consumer and economic-climate of the time.

The current trend leans towards niche forms production and marketing locally, in which consumers seek to engage with those who put food on the table.

“It’s time to capture this market,” Hill said. “More and more customers will ask the grocery store where their food comes from.”

“For farms that have around 5 acres, they should something very niche, something specific that other larger farms may not be able to do,” Hill said. “In a very small farm operation your yields would not justify purchasing equipment.”

Visit the farm’s website here: http://southernhillfarms.com/ 

 

Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference Pictures!

Here are some pictures of the Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference, which took place on November 6, 2015 at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, FL.

You’ll see plenty of pictures of the fabulous greenhouse vegetable demonstration!

Enjoy!!

Pictures by Lana Nasser

Wise words of advice from an experienced vegetable grower

Emil Belibasis from Beli Farms, one of the farmer speakers at the Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference.

By Lana Nasser

Emil closed up

One of the speakers featured at the Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference  on November 6 2015 was Emil Belibasis, owner of Beli Farms, a 5 acre hydroponic production farm in Wellborn, Florida.

We interviewed Belibasis right before the conference and he shared with us some great pieces of advice, especially for beginner or prospective farmers. Whether or not you attended the conference, read on for great farmer insights.

Starting from scratch, Emil decided to relinquish his position in healthcare and economics more than 20 years ago and pursued his interest in hydroponic tomatoes. Since making this switch in occupation, Belibasis has found that a love for growing, enjoying hard work and knowing one’s market is essential to any novice or prospective farmer.

“You really have to get into this business wanting to be a grower,” Belibasis said. Before he started the farm, Belibasis got lots of warning against growing food, that it was too much work for little reward. “If you are into this business dreaming about how much money you’ll make, and that is the driving force, it’s probably not the best way to get in it.”

According to Belibasis, there is no step-by-step recipe to assure success in the farming industry, but knowing how to match one’s resources to his or her market makes all the difference.

“If you have limited resources, you can’t go wholesale and you’ll have to find some other type of buyer that will work with what you have,” Belibasis said.

Harvesting a lot of produce at your farm doesn’t guarantee success either. “Sometimes farmers produce more vegetables than a market can handle, and they don’t end up doing well because of the market limit,” Belibasis said.

On the other hand, Belibasis warns against spending too much time trying to analize your  market. “Get a sense of your market but don’t get too bogged down trying to understand everything related to the market initially because you wont. You have to have product to offer” Belibasis said. This farmers knows what’s he’s talking about, as he has able to market his produce successfully for 20 years. Over these years, he has maintained a fruitful relationship with a large retailer, from which he draws 70% of his revenues. The remaining 30% comes from small stores, buying clubs and CSAs.

According to Belibasis, another essential measure for novice farmers is to curtail costs.

“Somebody who is starting out not to get too far out with expenditures, get your feet wet,” Belibasis said. “Because particularly in the industry, a good chunck of it is infrastructure, capital, investment and you can sink a lot of money real quick without knowing about the payback, issues coming along years 2 through 15.”

Founder and Owner of Orlando’s East End Market to Speak at Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference

October 21, 2015; by Lana Nasser

With November right around the corner, the Mid-Florida Specialty Crop Conference is swiftly approaching. The conference’s keynote speaker needs no introduction. He is a well-known, passionate advocate of sustainable food systems and small, local businesses.

John Rife
John Rife

The esteemed urban farmer we are talking about is John Rife, founder and owner of East End Market in Orlando, Florida. Rife’s keynote speech at the Mid-Florida Conference, “How Food and Farming Can Revitalize Local Economies,” will explore the ways agriculture can be an economic stimulus for a region by merging the experience of older farmers and the energy of beginner ones, and by promoting sustainable food systems from the grassroots up and from the policy level.

According to Rife, there is enough demand for produce in central Florida to create and maintain a sustainable system capable of revitalizing the economy.  “Customers and restaurateurs want something different because they’re tired of the same vegetables,” Rife said. “That message is making it to the farmer and either old farmers have to get with times or young farmers have to see the gap and working towards filling it.”

Rife believes that farmers and local producers can re-stimulate the economy without having to start from scratch. “There is a lot of interest in farming and we have the natural resources that already have wealth that we can convert to take the advantage of what’s existing in central Florida, at the same time showing the fertile ground that exists in that area to take advantage of the infrastructure already in place,” Rife said. “Because infrastructure is already there, with improvements we can re-vitalize an old farm into something profitable and sustainable.”

East End Market, Orlando, FL
East End Market, Orlando, FL

There is a specific marketing advantage for small farm operators who are able to cater to diverse and quickly changing local demands, as this flexibility separates these growers from others who are more limited in their crop diversity.

If you were a farmer before, you were beholden to the distributor and growing what that market would bear. With CSAs, farmers markets, and other channels now, all of which have a higher price point, you have some other options,” Rife said.

According to Rife, the best outcome for this conference to produce is increasing dialogue between consumers, distributors and local farmers to create a more fluid environment.

For this conference and for the future of agriculture, “my heart is just to see more growers and if that means folks that are retiring their farms, rather than sell to developers, work with young farmers and give them a chance,” Rife said. “Our job is to inspire the next farmer and give them a leg up,”

The Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference in Apopka, Florida will take place on November 6, 2015. Check out the Conference Program and Register online at www.midfloridaconference.eventbrite.com Early Bird registration is $30 if you register on or before October 25. Registration is $40 after this date. Your registration includes refreshments, lunch, and educational materials. For more information about the conference, contact Jose Perez at 352-294-1692 or joseperezoro@ufl.edu

Mid-FlSCC

PhotoStory: Banker Plants

The Use of Banker Plants in Integrated Pest Management

1.What is a banker plant? – A banker plant is a plant that has a population of reproducing natural enemies on it. These are plants that are different to the crop we are growing, and they attract a species of insect similar to the pest we want to control, which is called an alternate host. These alternate hosts will not feed on our crop, just the banker plants. Natural enemies are then introduced and they feed on these alternate hosts. If the pest come, the thriving natural enemy insect population will move from the banker plants and attack the pest on our crop. In the picture, greenhouse tomatoes growing, alongside papaya banker plants. This is done to produce natural enemies which control whitefly.
What is a banker plant? – A banker plant is a plant that has a population of reproducing natural enemies on it. These are plants that are different to the crop we are growing, and they attract a species of insect similar to the pest we want to control, which is called an alternate host. These alternate hosts will not feed on our crop, just the banker plants. Natural enemies are then introduced and they feed on these alternate hosts. If the pest come, the thriving natural enemy insect population will move from the banker plants and attack the pest on our crop. In the picture, greenhouse tomatoes growing, alongside papaya banker plants. This is done to produce natural enemies which control whitefly.

2.Banker plants are interspersed throughout the crop to establish a resident populations of natural enemies that will attack the crop pests if they should happen to try infesting the crop. In this picture, an army of ladybeetles devour aphids. The approach is considered an environmentally friendly alternative because it reduces insecticide use and offers growers a low-cost, self-perpetuating alternative
Banker plants are interspersed throughout the crop to establish a resident populations of natural enemies that will attack the crop pests if they should happen to try infesting the crop. In this picture, an army of ladybeetles devour aphids. The approach is considered an environmentally friendly alternative because it reduces insecticide use and offers growers a low-cost, self-perpetuating alternative

 

This is a schematic view of natural enemies moving between the crop and the banker plant. This is the aim of the system: the natural enemies will move from the banker plant in search of food. If the crop is infested with the pest for which the system was designed (spidermites or whiteflies), they will be attached and killed.
This is a schematic view of natural enemies moving between the crop and the banker plant. This is the aim of the system: the natural enemies (blue triangles) will move from the banker plant (light green) in search of food. If the crop (dark green) is infested with the pest (red squares) for which the system was designed (spidermites or whiteflies), they will be attached and killed.

 

4.Example of Banker plants 1 –Aphids – barley banker plant that produce parasites to manage aphids. Rhopalosiphum padi (Bird-cherry aphids) on winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Schizaphis graminum on winter wheat or Rhopalosiphum maidis (Corn leaf aphid) on sorghum. All of these aphids can serve as prey for various predators and parasitoids that attack melon and green peach aphids.
Example of Banker plants 1 –Aphids – barley banker plant that produce parasites to manage aphids. Rhopalosiphum padi (Bird-cherry aphids) on winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Schizaphis graminum on winter wheat or Rhopalosiphum maidis (Corn leaf aphid) on sorghum. All of these aphids can serve as prey for various predators and parasitoids that attack melon and green peach aphids.

5.Example of Banker plants 2 – Encarsia sophia populations grow on papaya banker plants. They attack and reproduce on the Papaya whitefly. They will move to another crop to control the whitefly pest (Bemisia tabaci)
Example of Banker plants 2Encarsia sophia populations grow on papaya banker plants. They attack and reproduce on the Papaya whitefly. They will move to another crop to control the whitefly pest (Bemisia tabaci). See the first picture of this blog to see the system.

6.Examples of Banker Plants 3: Ornamental Pepper have been used to establish Amblyseius swirskii for biological control of multiple pests in greenhouse vegetable production.
Examples of Banker Plants 3: Ornamental Pepper have been used to establish Amblyseius swirskii for biological control of multiple pests in greenhouse vegetable production.

7.The use of banker plants has been successful among foliage growers. Research shows a lot of potential for greenhouse vegetable production as well. In the picture, Technician Katherine Houben (from the University of Florida) looks for benefitial insecs on a papaya banker plant
The use of banker plants has been successful among foliage growers. Research shows a lot of potential for greenhouse vegetable production as well. In the picture, Technician Katherine Houben (from the University of Florida) looks for beneficial insects on a papaya banker plant

 

8.How to start? Introduce the alternate host - You can’t just put the predator in and hope for the best. You need a food source for it—an alternative prey—and you need to be sure that the alternative prey doesn’t become a pest itself. In the picture, barley seed being planted (left) and at 1 week after planting (right). The plants must be covered with hairnet at all times to protect the alternate host population.
How to start? Introduce the alternate host – You can’t just put the predator in and hope for the best. You need a food source for it—an alternative prey—and you need to be sure that the alternative prey doesn’t become a pest itself. In the picture, barley seed being planted (left) and at 1 week after planting (right). The plants must be covered with hairnet at all times to protect the alternate host population.

 

Introduce the natural enemy species that will feed on the alternate host and also your target pest. In the picture, a parasitic wasp using aphid as host.
After there is a good population of the alternate host, you introduce the natural enemy species that will feed on them and also your target pest. In the picture, a parasitic wasp using aphid as host.

Does this work at the field level? A good example of a banker plant is the Crape Myrtle, a common landscape plant. At the Suwanne Valley Agricultural Extension Center in Live Oak, FL, they have planted Crape Myrtle in dry corner of pivot and other surrounding areas of the farm. The alternate host specie is the Crape Myrtle aphid. Populations of ladybeetles grow here and can help managing crop pests.
Does this work at the field level? A good example of a banker plant is the Crape Myrtle, a common landscape plant. At the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center in Live Oak, FL, they have planted Crape Myrtle in dry corner of pivot and other surrounding areas of the farm. The alternate host specie is the Crape Myrtle aphid. Populations of ladybeetles grow here and can help managing crop pests.

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Two IPM experts to speak at the Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference

By Lana Nasser, Friday Oct 15, 2015

As we come closer to the Mid-Florida Specialty Crop Conference, which takes place on November 6 in Apopka, Florida, we are excited to have such great line of speakers sharing expertise and knowledge with us. In this feature we would like to highlight speakers who will be presenting on the topic of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

valentin
Ronald Valentin
Dr. Osborne
Dr. Osborne

Dr. Lance Osborne is a Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center. His work focuses on biological management of pests for vegetable and foliage crops. Joining him will be Ronald Valentin, the Technical Lead for Bioline Syngenta. Valentin is an internationally recognized expert on biological control and IPM.

These two experts will provide beginning and advance IPM sessions throughout the conference. This will allow participants to have options to attend these sessions either in the morning or in the afternoon.  “We hope to provide practical solutions as well as potential new developments.  We hope that they realize that there are no magic bullets. You just can’t depend on one tactic to control the many pests that enter a crop.  You need to use all the tools at your disposal!” Dr. Osborne said.

Papaya banker plants used to manage whitefly in tomatoes
Papaya banker plants used to manage whitefly in tomatoes

The sessions will cover a wide range of topics, including scouting techniques, pest ID, the use of banker plants, beneficial insects and resources and networking for IPM. “Without scouting, no matter what methods you use to manage a pest, you are wasting your time.  You need to get a proper ID before you can decide on how best to manage a pest.  Some don’t need to be managed, some are not pests, some are much more difficult and require special techniques. Some may get you quarantined,” Osborne said.

One of Osborne’s main objectives for conference attendees to walk away with is to know where to get help. “They should understand that it isn’t rocket science but you must pay attention to details.  You need to know where to get reliable help and how to filter out snake oil,” Osborne said.

The Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference in Apopka, Florida will take place on November 6, 2015. Check out the Conference Program and Register online at www.midfloridaconference.eventbrite.com Early Bird registration is $30 if you register on or before October 25. Registration is $40 after this date. Your registration includes refreshments, lunch, and educational materials. For more information about the conference, contact Jose Perez at 352-294-1692 or joseperezoro@ufl.edu

Mid-FlSCC

Hands-on Vegetable Production Demonstrations at the Mid-Florida Conference

Do not miss the opportunity to attend the Shadehouse/Greenhouse demonstrations at the Mid- Florida Specialty Crops Conference on November 6, 2015. www.midfloridaconference.eventbrite.com

At the beginning of the conference speakers Bob Hochmuth and Richard Tyson from UF/IFAS Extension will provide the essential information you need to start up your vegetable production. Following this classroom session, participants will have two chances to visit the hands-on Shadehouse & Greenhouse demonstration.

gh demonstration
Greenhouse plants growing at the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center, Live Oak

Speakers at the Demonstration session are Steve Brown of A & S Horticulture and Liz Felter from UF/IFAS Orange County Extension. Both speakers have extensive experience consulting in greenhouse production. We are working to prepare a greenhouse and a shade house to demonstrate the various types of growing systems used to grow vegetables, Felter said. Participants will see a good variety of vegetables growing, including tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, among others. These crops have already been seeded and will be in a good shape for the conference, Felter said.

The five different growing systems showcased will be:

1. Hydroponic system: Deep water- troughs, filled with nutrient solution.
2. Flat Bags with coconut coir: The use of bags filled with coconut coir as a growing media for plants
3. Container Production
4. Vertical Systems
5. Nutrient Film Technique

Several varieties of lettuce growing in a Nutrient Film Technique system

For those growers who have worked in the foliage sector, you will learn that it is easy to switch to vegetable production, said Felter. These growers maybe looking for opportunities to diversify their operations, and local vegetable production and marketing is an attactive option. While considering the transition to vegetable production, they have various production system options to choose from. “The important thing is to determine what production system works better for you and for the structure you already have in place,” Felter said.

Additionally participants will learn the best kind of crops that will grow in Central Florida conditions and the supplies you need to establish and maintain successful vegetable production systems.

The Mid-Florida Specialty Crops Conference in Apopka, Florida will take place on November 6, 2015. Check out the Conference Program and Register online at www.midfloridaconference.eventbrite.com

Early Bird registration is $30 if you register on or before October 25. Registration is $40 after this date. Your registration includes refreshments, lunch, and educational materials.
For more information about the conference, contact Jose Perez at 352-294-1692 or joseperezoro@ufl.edu

Mid-FlSCC