FFL Team Presents in Switzerland

Lynn Barber and Susan Haddock stand in front of a banner listing speakers at the conference in Switzerland

The 13th International Conference on Agriculture and Horticulture
September 10-12, 2018
Zurich, Switzerland

By: Lynn Barber, barberl@hillsboroughcounty.org

UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County horticulture agents Lynn Barber and Susan Haddock attended the 13th International Conference on Agriculture and Horticulture in Zurich, Switzerland.

As a team, we presented Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL): A Grass-Roots Residential Program That Promotes Urban Environmental Stewardship. The oral presentation provided information on the nine principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL), the “Water 2070” report as it relates to population growth and future water needs, and Florida state legislation that states that the ongoing FFL program is fundamental to reducing future water demands and protecting water quality. The presentation highlighted statewide water conservation data from 2017 and summarized Green Industries Best Management Practices (GIBMP) program results from 2008 through March 2018.

Conference attendees were impressed that FFL water conservation programs utilized 89 UF/IFAS Extension faculty to reach 60,600 residents of which 93% reduced irrigation to two days/week, 90% reduced irrigation in winter months, 87% reduced irrigation during adequate rainfall and 69% switched to low-maintenance plants. The educational outreach impact presented was:

  • 176,405,796 gallons of water saved – enough to supply 2,005 households with water for one year
  • $583,903 saved on utility bills
  • $458,655 saved by utility companies on water preparation/delivery costs

Conference attendees were equally impressed by the GIBMP program structure and impact. Many attendees were surprised at the scope of coursework offerings: on-line, in-person or DVD, and in three languages, and how that provides many options to enhance green industry professionals’ knowledge and judgment and brings awareness to their role in protecting Florida’s water and environmental resources. GIBMP Objectives were presented: 1) Reduce off-site transport of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides through surface or ground water, 2) Use appropriate sight design and pant selection, appropriate rates and methods of fertilizer and irrigation application to prevent pollution, conserve water, and promote healthy plants, and 3) Incorporate integrated pest management (IPM) to decide when pesticide applications are needed to manage pests in the landscape.

The educational outreach impact was presented in visual graphs and included that:

  • Total attendance in GI-BMP programs for all delivery methods is over 56,000 with 47,622 certificates issued.
  • On-line and DVD options have increased to 47% in the past three years.
  • Significant increases in behavior change measured 6-12 months post training in water conservation, reduction in pesticide use, and proper fertilization application.
  • BMP attendees noted a positive change in attitude and ability to communicate with clients regarding cultural practices, water conservation and IPM: reduced pesticide use, money savings, and natural resource protection.

Other conference sessions involved topic areas of agricultural engineering, agricultural production systems, agricultural biotechnology, agriculture and food security, plant science, agricultural production systems, fertilizer and pesticide, crop sciences, and soil and water management. Poster presentations were made by graduate students and other presenters.

Four attendees were from the United States. Other presenters were from Australia, South Africa, India, Vietnam, China, Mexico, Azerbaijan, South Korea, Japan, Hungary and Chile. There were many interesting professor and student presentations, most involving research projects and results; such as: Improving crop production in developing countries, Quantifying and correcting for clay content effects on soil water measurement by reflectometers, Modern techniques for walnut propagation, Sewage water effects on Okra growth affected by organic matter, Effects of day length on mineral concentration, chlorophyll content and yield of kale microgreens, and Fabrication and evaluation of novel slow release agrichemicals for improving nitrogen update.

Swiss trains were close to the hotel, on-time, clean and generally quite occupied. The train station in Zurich was like a shopping mall with grocery stores, restaurants, bars, flowers shops, and book and card shops. There was a significant amount of Italian food available, pasta and pizza, and we enjoyed Swiss fondue and raclette, a melting cheese you melt over grilled vegetables. Switzerland was breath-takingly beautiful, and extremely clean. The people were friendly and helpful. We found Zurich to be very walkable.

As a result of the presentation, several conference participants asked for a copy of our presentation and business cards, took our handouts and gave us their contact information due to interest in developing a similar program in their country. The conference was an excellent experience and the contacts we made will be valuable for potential future collaborations. Thanks to Esen Momol, Ph.D., CJ Bain, John Bossart, Claire Lewis and Don Rainey for their input and assistance in this endeavor, and the Dean’s office Extension Service Professional Development Mini-Grant, our District Director, Brenda Rogers, and the FANREP travel scholarship program for financial assistance.