Wednesday, December 29, 2010

PE exam

Hi group - just an update for you that I received word today that I passed the PE exam I took last October. Thanks to everyone for your support!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The winter of our winter arrives early

Early last week, South Florida experienced two evenings of freezing temperatures (a minimum of 34 in South Miami-Dade). According to reports, temperatures had not dipped so low so early in the season since 1962.

On the TREC campus nestled in Homestead, the frost made for some lovely winter scenes.

For growers and managers tending the estimated 15,000 acres of crops cultivated in the region around TREC, the effects of the freeze were much less festive.

On a recent data downloading expedition, the Water Resource Engineering team had an opportunity to survey field upon field of burned or severely burned crops.

We also saw the promise of hardier and bountiful tomorrows….

…and persistent efforts to save the salvageable.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

AGU Conference

Hi everybody,

I just wanted to tell you all a little bit about my experience at the AGU conference. As Kevin mentioned in his previous blog, attending the biggest scientific conference in the world was amazing. I was very surprised at how many people showed interest in our projects. It was interesting to listen to others talk about Eddy Covariance and their experience with it. I even had the opportunity to talk with a co-worker and friend of Barclay, which was very nice. Overall, the AGU conference was great. Inclusively, Kevin, othere REU students, and I got to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco. Once again, thank you all for your help with the project and until next time!

Happy holidays,


Saturday, December 18, 2010

AGU Conference in San Francisco

Hello everyone at TREC!

Currently Liliana and I are in San Francisco to present our research projects from the REU program at the AGU Conference. The AGU conference is absolutely huge, 15,000 people interested in all things physical science related.

Me in front of my poster.

My poster session was apart of a session in which the focus was how hydrologic and climate change science is related to public policy. The talks for this session in the afternoon were very interesting in regards to how science is passed on from researchers to policy makers and public opinion and the difficulty that this often presents in terms of the desires of different stakeholders. Definitely very applicable to the aspects of extension work at TREC.

There were definitely people interested in the topics Liliana and I were working on. I got a few people stop by my poster who worked for companies who designed or manufactured soil moisture sensors, luckily not Campbell Scientific but they were there. It was interesting to see the problem from that perspective and making TDR sensors that work in sandy/rocky soils is a difficulty they face worldwide. It would be interesting to do a gravimetric calibration and see how that compares to the calibration equation I made. The use of eddy covariance systems in comparison to estimation equations also gathered quite a bit of interest as it applies to a lot of research topics that others were working on.

I have been rooming with a PhD student in the UF ABE program, Syewoon Hwang, who is working with Dr. Wendy Graham on downscaling Global Circulation Models using a novel approach. He has been great to room with and I learned a lot from him.

Liliana and I at the cable car museum.

We also found some time to see some of the city. Their is a lot going on in San Francisco. My hotel rented free bicycles so I rode around the city and to Golden Gate Bridge. Ill tell you, you don't realize how hilly San Francisco is until you try to bike up and down!

From left to right; June, Me, Liliana, and Melissa

Good memory from TREC! Picking Lychee with Milagros and Liliana.

Nicholas it looks like you did a lot of awesome stuff at the field site. The VBA program for data processing sounds very useful, I had visions of that when I was working on it but not the skills to put it together.

Happy holidays from San Francisco and hope all is well!

- Kevin

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One sprinkler at a time…a new video

I recently produced a new video for Miami-Dade Extension’s Urban Conservation Unit. This piece is a departure from our usual “how-to”/educational approach to our videos. The form for this one is more short documentary, at times summarizing or detailing the work that we do on our travels around Miami-Dade.

What began as a practice video to help familiarize us with Extension's newly acquired Sony HD camera developed into something completely different in the editing process. In fact, the narrative demanded a much broader scope so I was able to complement the newer clips with segments dating back to our earliest works.

At the moment, we are contemplating submitting this video to the Borscht Film Festival, a local, artist-run indie celebration of Miami-inspired and Miami-focused cinema. Our perspective is unique and I think worthy.

Is it that good? You be the judge! Screen it and if you can envision it projected at the Performing Arts Center in downtown Miami (or not), comment on this post. Feedback is encouraged and appreciated!

One sprinkler at a time – Miami-Dade County’s Urban Conservation Unit

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Water quality criteria update

Group - as you know, a lawsuit between EarthJustice and EPA has resulted in nutrient water quality criteria for Florida.

Last month we held a program in Homestead where I gave a short presentation on this. If you would like to see it: and follow the 'education' tab.

In response to this, Florida has filed a lawsuit against EPA. More information on this can be found at:

Monday, November 29, 2010

The spiraling whitefly menace! - two new videos

I recently collaborated with UCU-team leader Mary McCready on two short videos about the emerging South Florida infestation of gumbo limbo spiraling whitefly.

Although not as aggressive as the ficus whitefly (it will not kill its host), the spiraling whitefly has a wider host range – affecting everything from fruit trees to shrubs.

These videos were produced to supplement Miami-Dade Extension’s educational literature geared toward alarmed residents in areas of the county where the infestation has been particularly harsh (Doral, Miami Springs, etc.). Currently, the videos are prominently displayed on Miami-Dade Extension’s main webpage.

Check them out!

The gumbo limbo spiraling whitefly

La mosca blanca espiral del gumbo limbo

Friday, November 19, 2010

Out of town

I will be out of town next week Nov 23-26. If you have an emergency, you can call my cell phone. I will check emails. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!

Awesome photo from our collection

In an effort to get people besides Mike and me to blog - I'm going to offer a challenge! I hope that every now and then, someone can post a great memory from our group. Here is the start!

Great teamwork! These two worked really hard last summer.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BMPs for water quality and treatment in south Florida

Today an extension event was held in Homestead for water quality BMPs - primarily focusing on ornamental nurseries. We had some great tours and speakers. This program was organized by the Water Education Alliance for Horticulture ( and Dr. Paul Fisher from UF-Gainesville. We saw some beautiful plants! And, some great BMPs! Thanks to Costa and Living Color for hosting us!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

ET in Ag

Traditionally employed in large commercial properties and urban landscape irrigation, ET-based irrigation controllers can also be used in agriculture.

Following a study by ABE graduate student Isaya Kiseka that successfully used a ET-based controller in a star fruit orchard, the Water Resource Engineering team installed an off-site ET-based timer on a pressurized irrigation system servicing a young avocado orchard at TREC in Homestead, FL.

This particular controller is of the “off-site” variety, meaning that it receives ET information from a weather service at another location. Beyond this, it is similar to other ET-based controllers in that it uses such factors as plant-type, soil-type, incline, shade factor, and sprinkler head type in calculating how much water should be applied during a scheduled irrigation event.

The set-up for the avocado orchard system includes additional instruments.

Since the off-site signal does no account for instantaneous rain events, a rain sensor was added to the controller. This sensor will suspend irrigation after it collects a specific depth of water and will sustain suspension until it dries.

A water meter was also added to the system’s mainline to track irrigation event frequency and duration.

Several tensiometers were also installed in the field to insure that irrigation is reaching row ends.

Though initiated in late 2009, the avocado orchard's ET-based irrigation system is finally in working order thanks to the recent efforts of Tina Dispenza.

To view short videos about previous Water Resource Engineering team studies conducted in the aforementioned avocado orchard and with the aforementioned ET-based controller, follow these links:

Evaluation of automatic evapotranspiration-based irrigation scheduling controllers for water and energy savings in southern Florida tropical fruit orchards
Assessing nutrient leaching under different nutrient and irrigation management practices

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Just an FYI that I will be on leave Oct 28-29. I will not be able to answer my cell phone. If you need to talk to me, send me an email and I will get back to you as I am able. Remember that we are meeting next Wed (Nov 3rd at 9am). Please take a moment to review the articles Isaya sent the group. Thanks Isaya!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dr. Richard Carey Publication

Please congratulate Dr. Carey on his latest publication. His manuscript entitled 'Nutrient Discharges to Biscayne Bay, Florida: Trends, Loads, and a Pollutant Index' was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. This manuscript is part of his PhD dissertation work. Congratulations Dr. Carey!!

Graduate student meeting

Isaya, Tanh and Nicki - please remember we will meet tomorrow Oct 20th at 9am. I have sent you some materials to review for discussion. Please look through them so we can have a good meeting. Also - if you want to develop your CVs - you can send me drafts for input or exchange with each other.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Snapper Creek Project: an autumn tale

I have been in Homestead since early September focusing exclusively on the Snapper Creek Project - learning the different devices and troubleshooting some discrepancies in the systems. The following is a short summary of this project.

Project objective:
Erected this summer, the weather and soil water monitoring site at Snapper Creek (Miami, FL) is collecting data for use by water managers in Miami-Dade County to develop water and energy conservation measures for urban landscape irrigation systems.

Equipment installed at the site:
1. Wind speed sensor that measures accurately wind speeds in the range of 0 to 100 mph.
2. Temperature (-40o to + 60oC) and Relative Humidity (0 to 98% RH, non-condensing) probes.
3. Two Tipping bucket rain gages with 0.01 inches (0.254 mm) per tip.
4. Three Water content reflectometers to measure soil volumetric water content.
5. Two Soil temperature probes (-35o to + 50oC).
6. Precision Infrared radiometer (Field of view, 22o half angle).
7. Two Soil heat flux sensors (±2000 Wm-2).
8. Two Solar radiation sensors to measure incoming and reflected solar radiation.
9. Net radiometer.

Data collection:
Two Campbell Scientific data loggers (CR800 and CR1000) are used to collect the measured data. The PC400 software is used to download data from the data loggers.

Data Analysis:
To transform data into usable outputs (that include graphs) a program has been developed in VBA excel. This allows for data analysis almost immediately after downloading.

· Generally the most sensors are recording weather data accurately. However, one rain gauge over estimates rainfall and a correction factor was developed for this particular rain gauge.

· The soil water content reflectometers underestimate the volumetric water content during unsaturated flow due to the existence of air pockets around the sensor rods. The accuracy of data collected was improved by reinstalling the water content reflectometers using a soil slurry made with sieved soil to minimize air pockets around the sensor rods.

Data collection at the Snapper Creek site will continue for several years. Ideally, somewhat better understood thanks to what I was able to accomplish this past month.

Nicholas Kiggundu