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Strawberry monitoring system could add $1. 7 million over 10 years to some farms

A University of Florida-developed web tool can bring growers $ 1.7 million more in net profits over 10 years than a calendar-based fungicide system because it guides growers to spray their crop at optimal times, a new UF study shows.

The Strawberry Advisory System, devised by an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher, takes data such as temperature and leaf wetness and tells growers when to spray fungicide to ward off diseases. Growers can use the system by logging onto www.agroclimate.org/tools/strawberry or use the website to sign up for email or text alerts.

Before the system was developed, strawberry farmers traditionally sprayed weekly during the November-to-March growing season. Spraying more often than is needed wastes money and can lead to fungicide resistance, said Natalia Peres, associate professor in plant pathology, who led the system’s development.

Not all strawberry growers use the system, but this research might persuade them to do so, said Tatiana Borisova, an assistant professor in UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

“The study will help additional producers to realize the benefits,” Borisova said. “Increased adoption of this system can increase the profitability of the strawberry industry in Florida, and it will help producers to stay competitive in the market.” Ekaterina Vorotnikova, a doctoral student in food and resource economics, worked on the study to identify how much the web tool could increase profits and yield by reducing spraying for anthracnose and botrytis, two of the crop’s deadliest diseases.

Using a 26-acre farm as her average, Vorotnikova took data collected at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center from 2006-2012 and put it into a 10-year model. She found that using the web tool increased net profit for strawberries with anthracnose by $ 1.7 million and $ 890,000 for those with botrytis. The increased profit stemmed mostly from decreased spraying, Borisova said.

Florida is the nation’s second-leading strawberry producer, behind California. Florida’s crop brings in $ 366 million annually, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“Given that world strawberry production was worth about $ 4.3 billion in 2013, the development and adoption of expert systems for small fruit production operations can benefit millions of farmers worldwide,” Vorotnikova said.

In 2012 and 2013, a UF/IFAS survey found 96 percent of Florida’s strawberry producers said botrytis attacks their crop. Half said they get anthracnose every three to four years, while 40 percent said they get it every year. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they subscribe to text or e-mail alerts about anthracnose and botrytis risk levels from the system, Borisova said.

Traditionally, strawberry growers sprayed their crop with fungicide weekly. But this was not optimal, said John VanSickle, a UF/IFAS food and resource economics professor and a study co-author.

For example, if conditions do not induce diseases, growers sprayed unnecessarily, wasting chemicals and labor and increasing production costs. Second, if weather worsens unexpectedly, farmers might not be able spray. Third, too much fungicide helps build chemical resistance for the disease, VanSickle said.

The study, written by Vorotnikova, Borisova and VanSickle, was published online last month in the journal Agricultural Systems.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The original article was written by Brad Buck. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Strawberry monitoring system could add $1. 7 million over 10 years to some farms

A University of Florida-developed web tool can bring growers $ 1.7 million more in net profits over 10 years than a calendar-based fungicide system because it guides growers to spray their crop at optimal times, a new UF study shows.

The Strawberry Advisory System, devised by an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher, takes data such as temperature and leaf wetness and tells growers when to spray fungicide to ward off diseases. Growers can use the system by logging onto www.agroclimate.org/tools/strawberry or use the website to sign up for email or text alerts.

Before the system was developed, strawberry farmers traditionally sprayed weekly during the November-to-March growing season. Spraying more often than is needed wastes money and can lead to fungicide resistance, said Natalia Peres, associate professor in plant pathology, who led the system’s development.

Not all strawberry growers use the system, but this research might persuade them to do so, said Tatiana Borisova, an assistant professor in UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

“The study will help additional producers to realize the benefits,” Borisova said. “Increased adoption of this system can increase the profitability of the strawberry industry in Florida, and it will help producers to stay competitive in the market.” Ekaterina Vorotnikova, a doctoral student in food and resource economics, worked on the study to identify how much the web tool could increase profits and yield by reducing spraying for anthracnose and botrytis, two of the crop’s deadliest diseases.

Using a 26-acre farm as her average, Vorotnikova took data collected at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center from 2006-2012 and put it into a 10-year model. She found that using the web tool increased net profit for strawberries with anthracnose by $ 1.7 million and $ 890,000 for those with botrytis. The increased profit stemmed mostly from decreased spraying, Borisova said.

Florida is the nation’s second-leading strawberry producer, behind California. Florida’s crop brings in $ 366 million annually, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“Given that world strawberry production was worth about $ 4.3 billion in 2013, the development and adoption of expert systems for small fruit production operations can benefit millions of farmers worldwide,” Vorotnikova said.

In 2012 and 2013, a UF/IFAS survey found 96 percent of Florida’s strawberry producers said botrytis attacks their crop. Half said they get anthracnose every three to four years, while 40 percent said they get it every year. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they subscribe to text or e-mail alerts about anthracnose and botrytis risk levels from the system, Borisova said.

Traditionally, strawberry growers sprayed their crop with fungicide weekly. But this was not optimal, said John VanSickle, a UF/IFAS food and resource economics professor and a study co-author.

For example, if conditions do not induce diseases, growers sprayed unnecessarily, wasting chemicals and labor and increasing production costs. Second, if weather worsens unexpectedly, farmers might not be able spray. Third, too much fungicide helps build chemical resistance for the disease, VanSickle said.

The study, written by Vorotnikova, Borisova and VanSickle, was published online last month in the journal Agricultural Systems.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The original article was written by Brad Buck. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Monitoring nutrient intake can help vegetarian athletes stay competitive

July 17, 2013 — A balanced plant-based diet provides the same quality of fuel for athletes as a meat-based diet, provided vegetarians seek out other sources of certain nutrients that are more commonly found in animal products, according to a presentation at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Expo®.

The research was compiled by Dilip Ghosh, Ph.D., director of Nutriconnect in Sydney, Australia. He was unable to attend the meeting, so his presentation was given by Debasis Bagchi, Ph.D., director of innovation and clinical affairs at Iovate Health Sciences International Inc. in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Ghosh’s research noted that vegetarian athletes have been present throughout history. Perhaps most notably, analysis of the bones of Roman Gladiators indicate they may have been vegetarians. There are several notable vegetarian athletes today, such as marathon runners Bart Yasso and Scott Jurek, and pro Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier.

The key to success, Ghosh found, is that vegetarian athletes must find ways within their diet to reach the acceptable macronutrient distribution for all athletes, which he breaks down as carbohydrates (45-65 percent), fat (20-35 percent) and protein (10-35 percent).

“Vegetarian athletes can meet their dietary needs from predominantly or exclusively plant-based sources when a variety of these foods are consumed daily and energy intake is adequate,” Ghosh wrote in his presentation.

Vegetarians should find non-meat sources of iron, creatine, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium because the main sources of these typically are animal products and could be lacking in their diets. Vegetarian women, in particular, are at increased risk for non-anemic iron deficiency, which may limit endurance performance. In addition, vegetarians as a group have lower mean muscle creatine concentrations, which may affect high-level exercise performance.

These deficiencies can be avoided or remedied through several food sources acceptable to the vegetarian diet, such as orange/yellow and green leafy vegetables, fruits, fortified breakfast cereals, soy drinks, nuts and milk products (for vegetarians who consume dairy).

Ghosh noted that his conclusions are based on observational and short-term interventional studies, but there needs to be a well-controlled long-term study to further assess the impact of a vegetarian diet on athletic performance.

The presentation also included a discussion of nutrition for bodybuilders, defined as athletes whose primary goals are to maximize muscle size, optimize fat and minimize body fat.

Phil Apong, senior formulation specialist/researcher at Iovate Health Sciences, said dietary recommendations for bodybuilders depend on many factors, such as genetics, age, gender and body size. But in general the current recommendation is 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight — about 1 gram per pound. Ideally a bodybuilder should seek to eat that amount in increments of 20 to 25 grams of high-quality protein throughout the day to maximize protein synthesis in muscle in response to training.

However, Apong noted those benefits did not exist past the limit of 2.4 g/kg.

“This is important because it seems to indicate there is an upper cap of protein intake that seems to promote protein synthesis to the maximum level and if you exceed this upper cap of protein level intake, you will not be pushing protein synthesis any further,” Apong said. “In fact, you’re going to be oxidizing protein for energy production.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News