Florida agriculture contributes more than $100 billion to the state economy and supports two million jobs. The agricultural economics program’s mission is to conduct high-quality research, help keep the industry economically competitive and sustainable, and inform policy making in agriculture. We work closely with growers and other industry stakeholders to address current issues and concerns in Florida agriculture—covering topics on production/farm management, marketing, trade, and government regulation. Many of our research projects employ a system approach and involve a multidisciplinary team of scientists.
The role of the plant breeding program is to help assess traits—valuable to both growers and consumers—and analyze adopting new varieties and its associated benefits. We conduct ex-ante analysis and ex-post assessment of optimal temporal yield distributions of new strawberry varieties in a market that is sensitive to supply from Florida. We also assess the economic value of tomato ripening and yield patterns to assist geneticists in breeding varieties that can be mechanically harvested to address labor shortage issues.
Weeds are a major culprit of yield loss in many fruit and vegetable crops, and the loss is further aggravated by the ban of methyl bromide. Agricultural economists are working with weed scientists to investigate effective weed management approaches. They’re also evaluating different weed management options—fallow programs, cover crops, fumigation, mulches, and tillage—to identify biologically feasible and economically viable alternatives.
Planting, irrigation, fertilization, and other cultural practices have direct impacts on yield. Alternative cultural practices often influence crop vulnerability to diseases, insects, and weeds, and affect costs and benefits of these practices. Cultural practices also have environmental implications. While overusing underground water for irrigation and freeze protection has caused adverse effects on the underground aquifer, using fertilizer has been a major cause of water pollution. Through interdisciplinary efforts, we are dedicated to identifying optimal cultural practices to help enhance growers’ economic performance, while accounting for environmental and risk effects associated with the practice.
Because of Florida’s unique climate conditions, crop disease management has been a challenge. The ban of methyl bromide—a widely used, powerful fumigant that damages the ozone layer—has created a technological shock for the fruit and vegetable industry, making it critical to identify effective pest and disease management alternatives. The agricultural economics program is here to help by evaluating the economic feasibility of different alternatives. Economists are also studying factors affecting disease management adoption practices (e.g., the Strawberry Advisory System), resistance development dynamics, and optimal treatment strategy, as well as the economic/environmental implications of alternative cultural practices such as crop rotation and cover cropping.
Weeds are the major culprit of yield loss in many fruit and vegetable crops, and the loss is further aggravated by the ban of methyl bromide use. Agricultural economists are working with weed scientists and investigating effective weed management approaches. They’re also evaluating different weed management options—fallow programs, cover crops, pre- and post-emergent herbicides, fumigation, mulches, and tillage—to identify biologically feasible and economically viable alternatives. The research will also study the effect of rotating and cover cropping on weed population dynamics and yield.