The University of Florida has recently launched its AgroEcology degree programme and as part of that activity it invited its international partners, of which UNE is one, and prospective partners to a summit. The itinerary was basically a tour of several of the Univeristy of Florida Resource and Education Centers (RECs) and then to finish up on the main campus in Gainsville to interact with Campus staff. We kicked things off at the Troical REC in the south and over the next four days headed north fininshing in Gainsville. Now, whilst I know this is the cotton blog and we only saw a tiny planting of cotton at Gainsville, there are a lot of similarities to be seen with Florida. Like us, they have nutritional challenges in their soils, which are primarily sand, lots of sand. Like us, they have major challenges with pest species with whitefly, thrips and psylids all causing trouble and water is a big issue for them with its supply often being controversial.
So, what have I taken away from this? Well, I need to come back and talk to our pasture guys about whether peanut has ever been looked at as a legume component in permanent pastures. I need to ask our pollinators if there is any way to get flies into Mangoes without the use of carcuses and I need to talk to our soil people about water and Phosphate challenges they experience. For me, from a cotton perspective, it was great to touch base with a Univeristy that not only actively teaches entomology, but has no less than seven nematologists in their staff. There’s definitely scope for collaboration and student exchange here.
Thanks to the CRDC and UNE for making this trip possible.