Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture
Florida’s agroecosystems are increasingly threatened by climate change and human influences, and Florida’s farmers and residents need solutions that will help mitigate the effects to agricultural production, the environment, and society.
The purpose: The Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture (CSRA), founded this year, is dedicated to providing transformational, research-based solutions to crop and cropping-system stress. UF/IFAS professor and Center Director Diane Rowland said the center will utilize both research infrastructure and an academic program to incorporate diverse faculty and global affiliates.
The approach: The CSRA founders are using a ‘transdisciplinary’ approach. Rowland’s Soil and Water Sciences colleague Gabriel Maltais-Landry began using this term to denote that the work of the CSRA teams will be wholly integrated amongst diverse departments and scientific disciplines.
“That means each researcher will become familiar with the questions and approaches used by his or her collaborators in other disciplines,” Rowland said. “They’ll learn to understand each others’ ‘languages,’ and teams will meet often to review and interpret data together, rather than meeting just to report results.”
The expertise: As industries and agricultural organizations reach out to the CSRA, research teams are assembled based on the scope of the problem presented. The expertise available is vast and includes crop stress physiology, crop breeding, soil science, plant pathology, human health, biotechnology, precision agriculture and engineering, agricultural economics, and crop stress risk modeling.
The leadership development: The center is also incorporating Student Project Teams to assist companies in data collection and interpretation while providing students the opportunity to gain valuable, real-world experience working with an industry mentor.
“We hear more and more from stakeholders that the problems in agriculture are extremely complex and require expansive knowledge and research,” Rowland said. “The solutions the UF/IFAS enterprise provides have to take into account production efficiency, environmental impacts, and the effects on society, and the CSRA has the tools and resources to provide just that.”
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