Jack Payne: Landscape professionals know no boundaries

February 8, 2019

Landscape professionals know no boundaries. The folks in the unincorporated area around Cocoa want a nice yard just as much as the folks within the city limits do.

Fertilizer ordinances, though, definitely have boundaries. Our state is a checkerboard of more than 100 sets of rules. How do you keep track of what rules to follow? By checking in with the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology (CLCE).

The Center’s Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ team has recently created a mobile phone app that can tell you what the rules are where you’re standing, digging, mowing, and fertilizing.

CLCE’s Florida Fertilizer Ordinance Mobile Web App uses your smartphone’s GPS to pinpoint your location and match it up with the rules governing that spot. You get the local ordinance, blackout dates, weather restrictions, nitrogen limits, and more.

The mobile app launched in October is the latest innovation from the CLCE. Its scientific team looks at lawn and landscape from every angle to discover the most efficient ways to grow green – and then shares it all with you.

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has long partnered with FNGLA to provide the science for the green industry. In fact, Ben Bolusky and others were the key advocates for the legislation that created the CLCE.

We stand at a crossroads together, a crucial moment in your industry. With 1,000 people a day moving here and more than 100 million visiting Florida annually, the landscape industry can demonstrate leadership in protecting water quality and supply.

We need the quality and supply of science to keep pace. That’s why I’m looking for Michael Dukes, leader of the team that created the app and the director of the CLCE, to do even more for Florida’s green industry. We need state investment now, and I’ll be seeking it during this legislative session.

We know what happens when state government doesn’t move fast enough. Local governments take action – whether the science keeps up or not. That’s how we get the checkerboard. It’s not necessarily how we get the best practices.

You’ve long known that you have something special at CLCE. The national scientific community is catching on, too. Last year the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers honored Dukes’ team with a blue-ribbon educational award for its work tracking water savings.

In Florida, the annual Extension Professional Associations of Florida recognized Dukes’ team for delivering information to the people who can best use it – you.

We’ll need to work together to grow your land-grant university’s green industry R&D operation to keep pace with Florida’s growth.

I ask one thing: Listen to Ben. If he says he needs help educating policymakers, please respond. If you can come to Tallahassee, that’s great. If you can call or email to tell policy makers how important science is to your livelihood, that’s also a good investment of your time in your industry’s future.

Jack Payne is the University of Florida’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

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