UF/IFAS Research and Extension in Hillsborough County get FNGLA Research Award
Extension and research at UF/IFAS work hand-in-hand to solve problems and deliver solutions to growers. Sometimes it is a top-down approach, with research developed in the lab to deliver to local clients. Other times extension and research also work from the bottom up at a grassroots level. Occasionally, an Extension agent in the field notices problems that the growers are having and lets researchers know there is a gap in our knowledge of a problem or situation. Here is an example of a local case where a grass roots approach is working to solve problems growers are encountering every day. I was on a nursery visit at the request of Troy Gordon of Alafia Tropical Foliage, to look at light levels through shade cloth to see what was going on at plant canopy heights. Mr. Gordon mentioned having very few herbicide tools at his disposal labeled for weeds associated with tropical plants. I went back to the office to do some digging and found that this research was seemingly lacking in the industry, even though tropical plants comprise nearly 35% of the ornamental trade in Florida and account for $1.4 billion in sales (2010 numbers). I mentioned this to our local weed science specialist Dr. Nathan Boyd at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center and proposed we write a grant to research herbicides for use in tropical ornamentals. Dr. Boyd suggested we try the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association research grants. The good news for our local growers and growers throughout the state is that our grant received funding. We will now start preparing for the research and will bring you the results when we get them. This is a great example of how Extension brings “Solutions for Your Life” and how your continued support as a grower of FNGLA and their research endowment helps the industry as a whole stay productive.