Team IFAS Helps Growers

Jack Payne
Jack Payne

If you’re a citrus or tomato grower in Southwest Florida, there’s a good chance you’ve met Dr. Sarah Strauss. She gets out of the lab plenty, because part of her job is getting knowledge to – and from – growers.

If you know Strauss or another University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher or Extension agent, you’re in a much bigger relationship. You know Strauss is legit by the UF/IFAS logo on her shirt.

The team provides the gear for scientific stars such as Strauss. Team IFAS does things like buy a $75,000 generator so Strauss and her colleagues don’t lose the DNA samples – and months of work — she keeps in a minus-80 freezer in a lab in Immokalee if the power goes out.

Team IFAS also just finished adding and renovating labs at our Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee so Strauss and four other new team members have a place to expand on what we do for the state’s growers.StraussAndAlbrecht

Even if you don’t sit on our advisory boards, attend field days, host trials, or visit the local Extension office, you’re part of the built-in bond a land-grant university has with the people who produce food, fiber and fuel.

Farm Bureau support has helped UF/IFAS expand by the dozen the number of its agricultural scientists. Every newcomer brings fresh thinking. Each one represents another chance for you to connect with IFAS person-to-person.

Strauss comes with a new idea for citrus research, inspired by recent findings that microbes on babies delivered through natural birth differ from those delivered through C-section, and that can have lifelong health implications.

Is the same true of citrus as we try to “birth” millions of replacement trees? Strauss wants to know if rootstock produced from seed carries different microbes than rootstock produced from cuttings or tissue cultures.

She can only do her work because IFAS renovated a lab for her. Provided her with a vehicle to get to the groves. Bought her the centrifuges, glassware, shaking incubator, computer and freezer.

Most importantly, IFAS put her on a team. The experts statewide dedicated to solving your problems.

It’s your team, too. I hope we’ll see you on the field – or in the field — soon.

By Jack Payne

Jack Payne is the University of Florida’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources and leader of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.