Source: University of Idaho/AdKnowledge

University of Florida extension officials have created and revamped their virtual field days Web site. The new version was unveiled late last month. That site's unveiling dovetails with the recent national launch of another new electronic hub for information aimed at anyone who wants to know about organic agriculture.

For the new field day site, Bob Hochmuth, a multicounty extension agent with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said he and other extension agents boiled down what had been 30- to 40-minute field day presentations into easier to watch 5- to 8-minute versions.

The original site was organized by geographic region; the new version is organized by topic.

UF extension agents with expertise in a particular subject are often swamped with questions from people from all over the state-and beyond.

"A lot of the times these are very basic, repetitive questions," Hochmuth said. "So for me now, if someone calls from Miami or Tampa, I can send them to the virtual field day site and they can take a look at it and get the basics. So the time efficiency for me has been phenomenal."

At a typical field day, farmers or other interested people have a chance to visit a farm and learn hands-on from extension agents what the latest scientific research has to say about a particular topic, such as how to prevent diseases in peanuts or grow new varieties of sweet corn.

"It capitalizes on the notion that what they see and touch and do in real life is a lot more likely to stick with them than reading about it or hearing somebody lecture about it," Hochmuth said.

IFAS officials hope to continue to expand the site with new, timely topics every year, said Joan Dusky, associate dean for extension. But that doesn't mean an end to hands-on field days, she said, because both help to reach people with timely information.