Florida Growers Explore New Solutions to Age-Old Problems
Ask a farmer about their biggest challenges, and the responses you’re almost guaranteed to hear include labor, pests, and market competition. This has been the case for what seems like eternity. However, the dialogue may be changing sooner than you think – if modern technology and applied research have anything to say about it.
At the 2017 Florida Ag ExpoSM, innovation was an underlying theme. Presented by UF/IFAS and Florida Grower® magazine, the 12th annual one-day conference/tradeshow/field tour event held at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) in Balm, featured an agenda dedicated to the state’s fruit and vegetable producers, highlighting marked progress being made on all fronts (production, crop protection, marketing, and yes – labor) using the latest scientific data, technology, and ingenuity.
In hearing the messages delivered during speaker presentations and panel discussions, it’s clear adoption of agriculture technology is part of the equation to solve challenges that continue to dog growers; as is the careful consideration of alternative crops. Hops, blackberries, and artichokes are certainly piquing interest.
The main takeaway from the 2017 Florida Ag Expo? Farming is changing, especially in Florida. It has to. A drive along the road that leads to the GCREC tells the story in that area. What was once open spaces filled with strawberry fields and hoophouses, are now lined with subdivisions and track houses.
The good news: Growers, researchers, and industry stakeholders are talking and collaborating on game-changing projects to help move the state’s specialty crop sector forward. That kind of teamwork is needed now more than ever.
Scan the photo gallery above to take a virtual tour and gather detailed information heard during the 2017 Florida Ag Expo.