Septic Systems and Springs Water Quality: An Overview for Florida

Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Photo taken 01-08-20.  Photo Credits:  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

Wastewater carries pathogens, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), and trace organic chemicals that may be harmful to human health and ecosystem functioning. Thus, proper treatment of wastewater is crucial. While septic systems can be one means of effective wastewater treatment, there are some special considerations for their use in Florida because of unique geography and sandy soils. The purpose of this new 6-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences is to explain the basics of how septic systems work and how they can affect springs water quality in Florida, with a special emphasis on potential N loading from septic systems. This document is intended for homeowners, the general public, and county, city, and other local personnel tasked with managing water quality in areas with septic systems. Written by Mary Lusk, Andrea Albertin, Whitney Elmore, William Lester, and James Moll.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss693

Computer Tools for Diagnosing Citrus Leaf Symptoms (Part 2): Smartphone Apps for Expert Diagnosis of Citrus Leaf Symptoms

A person's hand holding a smartphone, taking a picture of a leaf for analysis.

Visual identification of nutrient deficiencies in foliage is an important diagnostic tool for fine-tuning nutrient management of citrus. This new 2-page article describes a new smartphone app that uses a trained neural network to identify disease and pest symptoms on citrus leaves through your phone’s camera. Written by Arnold Schumann, Laura Waldo, Perseveranca Mungofa, and Chris Oswalt, and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss691

Wastewater and Septic System Management for the COVID-19 Virus: Frequently Asked Questions

The virus that causes COVID-19

This new 3-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences answers common questions about the potential role of wastewater and septic systems in transmission of COVID-19. It is intended as guidance for the general public. Written by Mary G. Lusk.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss692

Biofuel: Concepts and Considerations

Flasks and containers of sorghum pulp representing sorghum based ethanol production. Biofuels, chemistry. Image used for the 2012 Annual Research Report.  Photo Credits:  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

Biofuels are combustible fuels derived from recently produced biomass, as opposed to ancient biomass, which is the source of petroleum products. The term biofuel usually refers to liquid fuels used as replacements for or additives to petroleum-based liquid fuel. This new 6-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences serves as an introduction to biofuels for Extension educators and anyone interested in learning basic terminology, concepts, and impacts of biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels. Written by Tanumoy Bera, Kanika S. Inglett, and Ann C. Wilkie.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss688

Pondweeds of Florida

Claspingleaf pondweed, Potamogeton perfoliatus. Credits: Jess Van Dyke, UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

This new 9-page factsheet describes the defining characteristics of the eleven pondweed species that are present in Florida. It serves as a pondweed identification guide for aquatic habitat managers, lake monitors, conservationists, and plant enthusiasts, and it gives some context on each species’ life history and ecological role. Written by Christine Rohal, Laura Reynolds, Carrie Reinhardt Adams, and Charles Martin, and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss686

Landscaping on or near Septic Drain Fields

St. Augustinegrass Lawn. Credits: UF/IFAS

Septic systems are common throughout most rural areas, and their care and maintenance are essential to the health of people, wildlife, livestock, agricultural commodities, and water resources. One way to ensure optimal performance of your septic system is to landscape appropriately near the drain field. The purpose of this new 3-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences is to provide landscape management guidance for septic system drain fields. Information presented here will be useful for homeowners, landscape management professionals, and Extension agents who work in horticulture, natural resources, agriculture, and family services. Written by Whitney C. Elmore, William Lester, James Moll, Andrea Albertin, and Mary Lusk.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss687

Climate Change and Florida: Frequently Asked Questions

Rivers and lakes overflowing after a severe storm or hurricane hits. (UF/Ifas photo: Marisol Amador)

Climate change is considered one of the biggest challenges facing society. As global temperatures continue to rise, we are threatened by melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events. Climate change is also something that the people in south Florida live with daily. Still, the science of climate change is complicated, leaving many in the region looking for trusted information about why climate should matter to them. The purpose of this new 8-page FAQ document is to provide answers to commonly asked questions regarding climate change. The questions come from south Florida residents and municipal workers concerned with the climate outcomes to their region. The FAQ address several areas of concerns, including the basic science behind climate change, the projected impacts to residents of south Florida, and actions that individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprints. Written by Joshua Papacek, Ashley Smyth, Holly Abeels, and Alicia Betancourt, and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss682

Hemp Fertilization: Current Knowledge, Gaps and Efforts in Florida: A 2020 Report

Hemp (Cannabis sativa) cultivation in Florida. Credits: Luis Monserrate, graduate student, UF/IFAS Agronomy Department

Hemp is an annual herbaceous plant that may be grown for fiber, seed, or flowers. Starting in April 2020, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services began accepting applications for cultivation of hemp in Florida, with the potential for building a $20-$30 billion industry in the state. The statewide UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project is researching aspects of agronomic production for hemp cultivation. While a few other state soil testing laboratories provide soil tests and nutrient recommendations based on research and experience, at this time no Florida-specific data on nutrient requirements and fertilization are available. This new 5-page article, written by Rao Mylavarapu, Zachary Brym, Luis Monserrate, and Michael J. Mulvaney and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences, provides a summary of published and personal communications from different states on hemp fertilization.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss689

A Comparison of Planting Techniques for Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

Left: SAV meadow in clear spring water. Right: pondweed seen from the surface of a dark lake.

Submerged aquatic vegetation has numerous benefits for aquatic ecosystems, from improving water quality to providing important habitat that supports a diverse food web. This new 6-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences describes the breadth of options available to managers who wish to plant SAV at new locations. Because all methods have both benefits and drawbacks, and because all planting locations have different (often unknown) challenges for plant survival, managers may choose to try multiple methods to increase the likelihood for success. Written by Laura Reynolds, Carrie Reinhardt Adams, Enrique Latimer, Charles W. Martin, Christine Rohal, and Jodi Slater.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss685

Computer Tools for Diagnosing Citrus Leaf Symptoms (Part 1): Diagnosis and Recommendation Integrated System (DRIS)

Diagnosis and Recommendation Integrated System (DRIS) logo

This new 2-page article provides instructions for using the Diagnosis and Recommendation Integrated System, or DRIS, a web tool designed for analyzing leaf nutrient concentrations of Florida citrus. Written by Arnold Schumann and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss683

An Overview of Key Soil Nitrogen Cycling Transformations

Turfgrass with a sprinkler in the foreground and a man approaching the camera from the back left of frame. UF/IFAS File Photo.

Although nitrogen (N) is one of the most abundant elements in the biosphere, it is generally at levels that are limiting for optimum plant growth and crop production in Florida soils. To maintain adequate N levels in Florida soils without having detrimental environmental side effects, one must understand and manage N cycling transformations and processes. This new 5-page article, published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences, provides an overview of the N cycle by describing key N transformations that result in soils gaining or losing N. The biotic and abiotic processes that govern these transformations are described, as well as practical examples of these transformations in Florida soils. Written by Clayton J. Nevins, Sarah L. Strauss, and Patrick Inglett.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss684

Nutrition of Florida Citrus Trees, Third Edition

Citrus fruit on trees in the campus orange groves. Photo taken 06-22-18.

This update to 2007’s second edition adds information regarding nutrition of Florida citrus trees affected by huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. Much of the guidance provided in this document on nutrients, application methods, leaf and soil sampling, and irrigation scheduling is also effective for trees affected by HLB. However, research conducted since the previous edition was published has established changes in many production practices, including nutrient rates, irrigation scheduling, soil pH management, and use of Citrus Under Protective Screen (CUPS). Changes to the second edition will appear at the beginning of chapters 2, 6, 8, 9, and 11. See also this topic page for links to individual chapters in HTML and PDF formats. This 115-page book was edited by Kelly T. Morgan and Davie M. Kadyampakeni, and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss478

Sources and Transformations of Nitrogen in Urban Landscapes

An urban stormwater pond in Gainesville, FL.

With 80% of Florida’s residents living within 10 miles of the coast, Florida’s aquatic resources are directly affected by urbanization. The intent of this new 6-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences is to describe the urban nitrogen cycle for a nontechnical audience. Ultimately, this document is intended for individuals working in urban environments and concerned about nutrient pollution and water quality issues, but do not have a technical background and want to improve their understanding of nitrogen cycling. Written by Alexander J. Reisinger, Mary G. Lusk, and Ashley R. Smyth.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss681

How to Properly Dispose of Unwanted Medications

Medicine bottles. Image by Bob Williams from Pixabay

Properly disposing of expired or unused medications can help reduce the prevalence of prescription drug abuse in Florida. It also helps prevent accidental ingestion by children or pets, helps prevent accidentally taking the wrong medication, and prevents medications from entering water sources. This new 3-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences provides some dos and don’ts for disposing of your medications. Written by Alexander J. Reisinger.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss680

Everglades Agricultural Area Soil Subsidence and Sustainability

Presence of calcium carbonate in the form o flimestone gets higher as the soils become shallow, raising the pH.

This 4-page major revision, a publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences, highlights the current status of Histosols within the Everglades Agricultural Area in southern Florida. Over the last century, soils within the region have gradually been lost via oxidation, a process commonly referred to as soil subsidence. The rate of subsidence is gradually declining, due to factors such as increased mineral content in soil, humification, and water management (maintenance of higher water tables). Best Management Practices and crop rotation help slow down the rate of oxidation and promote soil sustainability within the region. Written by Jehangir H. Bhadha, Alan L. Wright, and George H. Snyder.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss523

Soil Sampling Procedures

Placing a soil sample into a bag. Photo taken 07-15-19.

To achieve optimal grove nutrition, citrus growers must test grove soil before beginning any fertilization program. Standard procedures for sampling, preparing, and analyzing soil should be followed for meaningful interpretations of the test results and accurate recommendations. This new two-page fact sheet, published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences, provides illustrated soil sampling procedures and tables to aid in basic interpretation of lab results. Written by Davie Kadyampakeni, Kelly Morgan, Arnold Schumann, and Rhuanito S. Ferrarezi.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss667

Citrus Soil pH Testing Procedures

Electronic pH Tester

Maintaining the correct soil pH is essential to ensure optimal plant growth and crop yield. This new two-page document is an instructional sheet for citrus soil pH testing, written by Kelly Morgan and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss665

Citrus Soil pH Management

Citrus fruit on trees in the campus orange groves. Photo taken 06-22-18.

Management of both soil pH and nutrients is required to maintain soil fertility levels and ensure economic agricultural production. Maintaining soil in the 6.0-6.5 pH range is best for most crops including citrus. This new two-page publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences, written by Kelly Morgan, explains the effects of soil pH on citrus as well as options for management.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss666

Soils and Fertilizers for Master Gardeners: Soil Physical Characteristics

A child's hands planting a vegetable in the soil. Photo taken December 5th, 2015. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

Soils are a foundational component of the landscape, providing a medium for plant root growth and playing a crucial role in nutrient cycling and water movement across the landscape. This new 7-page article describes the physical properties of soils, including soil formation in Florida, the soil profile, and water dynamics within soils, and provides a thorough reference for Master Gardeners and other individuals searching for a basic understanding of soil dynamics to apply to residential landscapes. Written by Amy L. Shober, Alexander J. Reisinger, Mary G. Lusk, and Sally Ann Scalera and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences.
https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg458

The Importance of Soil Health in Residential Landscapes

Soil bacteria

This 6-page publication’s purpose is to educate master gardeners and homeowners about the principles of soil health as well as practices that harm or nurture soil health at the residential scale. It also includes a description of the soil food web and the microorganisms that comprise it. This new publication of the UF/IFAS Department of Soil and Water Sciences was written by Sally Scalera, Alexander J. Reisinger, and Mary Lusk.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss664