Increased interest among small farmers in Florida to adopt innovative pest management strategies, led a group of University of Florida Research and Extension faculty, allied agencies, and organizations under the leadership of County Extension Agent, Robert Hochmuth, and Extension IPM Specialist, Dr. Norm Leppla, to initiate a new long range plan to teach hands-on IPM principles and practices. The group secured a three year Extension IPM grant from USDA, NIFA to transform a 330 acre farm at NFREC-SV in Live Oak, FL into a teaching field laboratory... Access full document by downloading PDF.
An historic thrust at NFREC-SV has been to demonstrate the intensive field production of specialty vegetable crops both in the field and under protected culture such as greenhouses. Small and mid-sized farmers are always seeking new ways to diversify their operations. Evaluating and introducing new crops/enterprises to the area is important. Alternative vegetable crops/enterprises efforts have included; lettuces and leafy greens, snap beans, southern peas, seedless and seeded watermelon, sweet onions, sweet potato, okra, carrots, pickling cucumber, oriental vegetables, cantaloupe and other melons, herbs, cut flowers, specialty tomatoes, and specialty peppers.
Organic vegetable production is an area of increased efforts. Current programs have been oriented to evaluating sustainable production systems, animal wastes as nutrient sources, biological pesticide tests, integrated pest management studies in both field and greenhouse culture. Another research emphasis has been in the areas of cover crops and crop rotations using sunn hemp, buckwheat, rye, triticale, beans, and other crops to fit the seasonal needs of organic farmers. The NFREC-SV maintains a dedicated four-acre area for organic research and will maintain ongoing organic certification. There is new interest in the region from large acreage organic producers for carrot, onion, leeks and other root crops.
A number of horticultural crops are planted for research trials in the fields and under various protected culture structures at NFREC-SV. Research trials in the field include crops such as tomato, pepper, squash, watermelon, cole crops, carrot and sweet potato. The greenhouse and other protected agriculture research trials include a wide range of vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, and cut flowers; however, the emphasis is on leafy greens, tomato, cucumber, colored bell pepper, and fresh cut herbs like basil and chives. The Center also has a four acre area dedicated to research on organic cropping systems for vegetables. The wide range of research programs for vegetable crops being conducted reflects the diverse industry in the region, both in the field and under protected culture. The research programs are in place to find solutions to the challenges facing the region’s vegetable industry with the emphasis on developing new and alternative specialty crops and production systems, efficient technologies as related to water and nutrient management, integrated pest management systems, and the impact of the use and timing of application on various animal manures and other practices on food safety.
Fruit and Nut crops and potential new orchard crops for North Florida, has attracted visitors from the Suwannee Valley area to the NFREC-farm. Extension programs on fruit and nut topics have been developed based on those crops and topics that seem to be popular at a certain point of time and have been targeted at different audiences such as Homeowners, Master Gardeners and Commercial Growers. Specialists, Extension Agents, NFREC-SV staff and Master Gardener coordinators have taken part on taking the lead on these events. Providing updated information about economics (See North Florida Enterprise Budgets), pests and disease, irrigation and nutrient management, any reported issues or successful stories about a specific crop has always been part of these programs.