Researchers On a Mission to Find More Places for Growing Produce

Researchers On a Mission to Find More Places for Growing Produce

Climate change, loss of fresh water, competition for resources, are among the top challenges that continue to threaten a farmer’s ability to sustain and increase production of fruits and vegetables. With the walls closing in, what does that mean for the future of farming?

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Thanks to a new $3 million federal grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Senthold Asseng, a UF/IFAS Professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and scientist David Gustafson of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Research Foundation will lead a four-year research project to find more places to grow produce.

Asseng, Gustafson, and a team of leading scientists from the International Food Policy Research Institute, University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, Washington State University, and the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services will use crop, environmental, economic, and climate modeling to predict current and future impacts on yield. They also will study the quality of selected fruit and vegetable crops in states where they are currently grown and identify future locations that will allow for continued or potentially increased production.
Additionally, the researchers will investigate places that have sufficient water to grow fruits and vegetables, ultimately utilizing climate data to see where such produce can be grown in the future.

The team of researchers involved in this project will combine economic and crop models to determine current and future prices and production costs of crops such as carrots, green beans, oranges, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet corn, and tomatoes.

Jack Payne, University of Florida’s Senior VP for agriculture and natural resources, commented about how this type of collaborative research is what’s needed to help solve world hunger problems. “Knowing where and how to grow crops goes a long way to feeding as many people as possible while conserving our environment.”