The Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture (CSRA) is a new inter-disciplinary center consisting of faculty from diverse departments within IFAS working together on addressing the impacts of biotic and abiotic stresses on the environment, society and agricultural production. This will be achieved through research, education and extension efforts.
Last Friday March 17, the 13 faculty members of the “Foundational Team”, or the team tasked with developing the vision, goals, and specific programs for the future Center, gathered at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit (PSREU) in Citra, FL to discuss and refine the mission, aims and activities of the center. The primary goals for CSRA will be to provide transformational research-based and sustainable solutions for agroecosystems that are already experiencing increased levels of stress such as drought or heat. The full spectrum of impacts and potential solutions to such problems will be investigated, from cropping systems to human health, with a common focus aimed at ensuring long-term sustainability and resilience.
To help achieve these objectives, new research infrastructure will be added at the PSREU, as well as a number of Research and Education Centers throughout FL, including rainout shelters to simulate drought conditions, underground cameras to look at root development, and in situ and multispectral imaging systems allowing researchers to monitor their crop through image analysis.
In addition, through the incorporation of the UF Agroecology Program within the CSRA, a domestic and global network of institutions have been formed for both research and student training activities. The perspectives behind such partnerships are wide: joint grant proposal development, student exchanges, shared lectureships and courses. All these efforts will support and promote UF’s worldwide collaborations on issues related to stress in agriculture that will likely become more and more problematic.
If all goes according to plan, the CSRA should be fully operational by the summer of 2018. There is still work to do, but the motivation and excitement expressed by students, faculty, international institutions, and private partners in the CSRA will surely make for a successful and impactful enterprise.