Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - Extension Office Obtains Grant To Manage HydrillaThe University of Florida / IFAS St. Lucie County Cooperative Extension, in conjunction with the Indian River Research and Education Center, are pleased to announce successful efforts to obtain grant funding for a new project designed to tackle one of the U.S.'s most troublesome invasive plants: The Hydrilla Integrated Pest Management Risk Avoidance and Mitigation Project (Hydrilla IPM RAMP).
Thanks to a new four-year, $500,000 grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, UF / IFAS research and extension faculty in conjunction with FAMU faculty and an Army Corps engineer are tackling the hydrilla problem head-on. Local project co-principle investigators include Ken Gioeli, natural resources extension agent with the St. Lucie County Cooperative Extension, and Dr. Bill Overholt, research entomologist with the Indian River Research and Education Center. They will be working with a team of researchers studying the impacts of the integrated use of a new herbicide, a naturalized hydrilla mining midge and a native fungal pathogen. Both agencies are members of the Treasure Coast Research and Education Park - a vision of the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners.
There is a need for experts to design and transfer new, innovative methods of managing hydrilla. Hydrilla verticillata (a.k.a. hydrilla) is an invasive freshwater plant common in Florida. It probably arrived in Florida as an aquarium plant in the late 1950s. By the 1970s, it was established throughout Florida. If left unmanaged, hydrilla is capable of creating damaging infestations which can choke out native plants, clog flood control structures (which can lead to flooding), and impede waterway navigation and recreational usage. In addition, hydrilla is showing resistance to fluridone, a systemic herbicide used to manage it for the past 20 years. According to the UF / IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, millions of dollars are spent annually on herbicides and mechanical harvesters in Florida in an effort to manage hydrilla.
For additional information about the Hydrilla IPM RAMP Project, please contact Ken Gioeli at 772-462-1660.