West Florida Right of Way and Aquatic Training – December 18

West Florida Right of Way and Aquatic Training – December 18

Do you need to get a right of way or aquatic category pesticide license, or need CEUs to renew your current license? Join us on December 18, 2018 at the Escambia County Extension office located at 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment, Florida for an informative day that will help prepare you to take the exams which will be offered later in the day. Registration starts at 7:30 with the class starting at 7:45. Cost is $20 and includes lunch. You must pre-register by contacting either Libbie Johnson at 850-475-5230 ext. 109 or Bethany Diamond at 850-675-3107.  CEUs for both categories have been applied for, so if you need Right of Way or Aquatic CEUs, this is a great way to earn them.

Backpack Sprayer in Cogongrass. Photo by Jennifer Bearden

Gadsden County Certified Pile Burner Course – December 10

Gadsden County Certified Pile Burner Course – December 10

In response to the large amount of storm debris from Hurricane Michael, the Florida Forest Service and the University of Florida Gadsden County Extension Service will be offering a Certified Pile Burner Course in Quincy, Florida. Normally this course includes a $50 per person registration fee, but the fee has been waived to assist with storm recovery.  For the next several months, because of the risk of wildfires and the challenge of private property access, only certified pile burners will be issued commercial permits in the primary impact region of Hurricane Michael.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Class size will be limited, so register early.  This course will show you how to burn piles legally, safely, and efficiently. This training will be held from 8:30 am till 4:30 pm at the North Florida Research & Education Center, 155 Research Rd, Quincy, Florida.

There will be a test at the end of the session. You must receive a grade of 70% or higher on the exam to pass the course.  After passing the course, you will need to demonstrate a proper pile burn with approval from your local Florida Forest Service (FFS) office to become certified.

Florida’s Certified Pile Burner Training Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should I be a certified pile burner?
A: Certified pile burners are trained to burn piles legally, safely and efficiently. Most importantly, it could save a life. Also, when the weather is dry, certified pile burners will receive priority for authorization to burn by the Florida Forest Service (FFS). Also, certified pile burners are allowed to burn up to two hours longer per day and get multiple day authorizations.

Q: What is a Pile Burner Customer Number?
A: When you call the FFS for an authorization to burn, you will be assigned a personal customer number.  This number references your information, so it doesn’t need to be gathered each time you call for an authorization. You must have your individual FFS customer number in order to be certified.

Q: Is there a test?
A: Yes, the test is 20 questions and open-book. You must receive a score of at least 70% to pass.

Q: What if I don’t pass?
A: Very few people fail the test but if you do, you will be provided another opportunity to take the test at a later date. If you fail the second time, you must re-register and take the training again.

Q: Why do you ask for my email on the application form?
A: Email is the fastest and most convenient method to inform registrants of their registration status. If no email address is provided, then all correspondence will be sent through the federal mail. This can take several days to relay messages, and this may not be practical if changes are made to the course schedule or for last minute registrations.

Q: Is there a cost for the training?
A: No. This is a special class in response to Hurricane Michael, the traditional $50 fee has been waived for these courses.

Q: How long does my certification last, and how long do I have to complete the certification from the time I finish the class?
A: As long as the person with the certification uses their number at least 5 times in a period of 5 years their certification will not expire under the current program. You MUST complete the certification burn within a year of taking the class.

Q: Will certified burners be notified if their certification expires?
A: Yes, notification will be sent out to them to let them know of their upcoming certification expiration date.

Q: Will I be certified at the end of the one-day training?
A: No, you will need to follow the written instructions that you will receive from the FFS to become certified. You will need to complete a simple burn plan, have it reviewed and approved locally by the FFS and also have the burn itself reviewed and approved by the FFS.

Q: Is there a minimum age to be a certified pile burner?
A: Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to take the test and be a certified pile burner.

Quincy Pile Burner Certification Course Registration Packet

 

For more information, contact: 

Florida Forest Service
Sabrina Willey
850-681-5900
Sabrina.Willey@FreshFromFlorida.com

Utilizing Compost to Boost Crop Productivity

Utilizing Compost to Boost Crop Productivity

Tractor front loaders make turning large amounts of compost possible for farmers. Photo by Turkey Hill Farm.

International Compost Awareness Week is May 6-12 this year. This educational initiative, promoted by the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation, was started in Canada in 1995, and has continued to grow in popularity as communities, businesses, municipalities, schools, and organizations celebrate the benefits of compost and composting. But perhaps the most important people involved in composting are the farmers who produce compost to grow the food we eat.

Compost can be produced and used on the farm as a valuable soil amendment, capable of providing not only a source of slow-release nutrients for crops, but also a way to improve soil structure, increase soil moisture-holding capacity, promote biological activity to enhance plant nutrient availability, suppress weeds, and even help combat some plant diseases.

Farmers can source compostable materials from many businesses, including fish waste from seafood markets. Photo by Turkey Hill Farm.

Although creating on-farm compost can take a lot of time and energy, it can be worth a farmer’s effort, if it keeps soil fertility costs down. One way many farmers produce enough compost to meet their fertility needs is to collect waste products generated by their surrounding community. If a system for collection and transportation can be developed, and non-compostable waste can be excluded, farmers can use waste from grocery stores, restaurants, food processing facilities, breweries, seafood markets, horse stables, dairy operations, and chipped trees collected by power line crews as they clear encroaching tree canopies.

Once a farmer has secured sources for compostable materials, next comes the step of mixing the materials to generate heat, up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately for the farmer, microorganisms do most of the work in the decomposition process. But it is the farmer’s responsibility to provide enough –  and the proper balance of – air, moisture, and nitrogen and carbon-rich food to fuel the aerobic microbial oxidation process. The volume needed to generate favorable composting conditions can be anywhere from about one cubic yard up to 40 cubic yards, depending on these factors.

This is why farmers, who depend on compost to supply a majority of their crops’ nutrient needs, often rely on a dump trailer and tractor front-end loader to move compost ingredients, turn compost piles, and spread the finished product on row beds. With experience, farmers learn the correct ratio of ingredients, proper volume and porosity of their piles, when temperatures plateau and piles need to be turned, and when the compost is finished and ready for use.

Spreading compost on crop rows provides a source of nutrients, improves soil structure, increases soil organic matter content, suppresses weeds, and provides many other benefits. Photo by Turkey Hill Farm.

High quality finished compost typically has an organic matter content of about 50 percent, a carbon to nitrogen ratio of around 20:1, near neutral pH, low soluble salts, and is free of weed seeds and plant phytotoxins. Compost nutrient content by volume is relatively low, and availability can vary greatly depending on soil and climatic conditions, so it is important for the farmer to monitor crop nutrient requirements and use additional amendments as needed. But when compost is used as a long-term strategy for improving soil health and building soil organic matter, its benefits can be appreciated for generations.

Interested in learning more about compost? Leon County Extension is hosting a “Got Compost?” workshop May 8, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST, in celebration of International Compost Awareness Week. This workshop is tailored more for home-composters, but will also touch upon ways to up-scale compost production and will discuss small farm compost production strategies. To find out more and to register, visit the Leon County Extension Eventbrite Page.

Additionally, the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance – a non-profit organization of over 50 farmers within a 100-mile radius of Tallahassee – is promoting International Compost Awareness Week on its website and Facebook page. If you utilize compost on your farm, upload a short compost video to the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance Facebook Page for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the Red Hills Online Market.

 

Highlights from the UF/IFAS Panhandle Bee College

Highlights from the UF/IFAS Panhandle Bee College

Beekeepers from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and as far away as Iowa, gathered at the Blountstown High School in Calhoun County Florida, for the 25th Annual UF/IFAS Bee College!

During Calhoun County Florida’s spring break, 160 beekeepers from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and as far away as Iowa, gathered at the Blountstown High School for the 25th Annual UF/IFAS Bee College!  Participants at this event learned from local, state, national, and international experts about the latest research and management tools for beekeeping.  This event had never been held before in the Panhandle!

Because of sustained local interest and strong inter-agency partnerships, the UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory decided to conduct one of their three annual Bee College events in the Florida Panhandle beginning this year.  Mary Bammer, Extension Coordinator for the UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab, states, “Beekeepers in the Panhandle have, for years, been asking for a Bee College in north Florida.  Starting in 2018, we are answering that call.”

The Bee College is a two day event with classes for every skill level.  Participants at the Panhandle Bee College were provided information on beekeeping skills, honeybee behavior, bee health, pest and disease management, selling hive products, native bees, and pollination.  These classes included hands-on beekeeping demonstrations in the bee yard, where students gathered around hives to learn about beekeeping best management practices. Additionally, Bee College hosts a Honey Judging show where participants were encouraged to enter their honey, hive products, art and more.

UF/IFAS Entomologist Dr. Jamie Ellis speaking at one of the concurrent sessions at Bee College. Photo by Judy Biss

Beekeeping is fascinating and is for everyone no matter your age! At each Bee College there is a series of classes set aside for Junior Beekeepers.

One of the unique aspects of Bee College is the hands-on training, as well as the opportunity to interact directly with the state’s top experts on beekeeping. Photo by Judy Biss

Honeybees and pollinators are an incredibly integral part of producing the food you eat, and learning about how to best manage them is an equally important, and ongoing process.  To that end, the UF/IFAS Bee College team extends much appreciation to all program sponsors (listed below), especially local support, without which this program could not have occurred.  We are grateful for the Calhoun County School Board, Superintendent Ralph Yoder, and Principal Debbie Williams for allowing us use of the Blountstown High School (BHS) campus during spring break, BHS staff, Steve Jackson, David Simpson, and Samantha Taylor, for being on call and always available to help before, during, and after the event, and BHS Ag Teacher, Charles Williams, and the FFA Students for organizing a delicious lunch and helping speakers in each of the classrooms.

In-between classes, participants had the opportunity to talk to a number of vendors on site. There were informational booths such as the Florida Beekeeping Association, USDA, UF/IFAS, as well as vendors with a wide range of Beekeeping related products. Photo by Judy Biss

The Bee College will rotate each year with the South Florida Bee College, so the Panhandle Bee College will be back in this region in 2020.  In the meantime, the UF/IFAS Beekeeping in the Panhandle Team will continue to provide local educational beekeeping programs such as the annual Workshop and Trade-show in Chipley, FL.   If you are interested in learning more about managing honeybees or native pollinators, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension County Office for more information, or see the following links:

Beekeeping

UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab

 

Recap and Presentations from the Panhandle Satsuma Workshop

Recap and Presentations from the Panhandle Satsuma Workshop

The Panhandle Satsuma Workshop was held in Jackson County on February 27, 2018!  There was a great turnout with 115 participants from Florida, Alabama, and Georgia.  Thank you to all who attended.

Thank you also to the presenters: Dr. Xavier Martini; Dr. Pete Andersen; and Dr. Tripti Vashisth!  A special thanks goes out the Cherokee Satsumas for hosting the event!  Whether you attended the workshop, or missed it and need a refresher, their presentations provided the most current information on a variety of important topics. The presentations and additional information are now available online!  Please use the following link to our website to access printer-friendly PDF copies of the information the speakers presented at the 2018 Panhandle Satsuma Workshop.

2018 Panhandle Satsuma Workshop Presentations

Contact your local Extension Agentif you need additional information on these or other topics related to satsuma production.

A special thanks goes to our sponsors for making the workshop possible, and for their continued support of the budding Cold-Hardy Citrus Industry, and the Jackson County Extension Service!

 

Recap and Presentations from the Tri-State Cucurbit Workshop

Recap and Presentations from the Tri-State Cucurbit Workshop

Josh Freeman teaches Cucurbit Workshop participants about fumigation practices for nematode and weed control. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension

Thank you to all those who attended the Tri-State Cucurbit Workshop held in Jackson County on January 25, 2018!  There was a great turnout with participants from Florida, Alabama, and Georgia.

Thank you to our presenters: Dr. Mathews Paret; Dr. Melanie Kalischuck; Dr. Josh Freeman; and Dr. Peter Dittmar!  Whether you attended the workshop, or missed it and need a refresher, their presentations provided the most current information on a variety of important topics. The presentations and additional information are now available online!  Please use the following links to printer-friendly PDF copies of the information the speakers presented at the 2018 Tri-State Cucurbit Workshop.

A special thanks goes to our sponsors for making the workshop possible and for their continued support of the Jackson County Extension Office!

Contact your local Extension Agentif you need additional information on these or other topics related to cucurbit production.