Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UF Researchers Adapt Space-Age Technology To Citrus Farming

Date:
March 3, 1998
Source:
University Of Florida
Summary:
Facing stiff competition from countries with cheap labor and few regulations, Florida citrus growers are battling for market share. They may soon have a new weapon: satellite and computer technology being adapted for citrus groves by University of Florida engineers.

Writer: Aaron Hoover, ahoover@ufl.edu

Related Articles


Source: John Schueller, (352) 392-0822

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Facing stiff competition from countries with cheap labor and few regulations, Florida citrus growers are battling for market share.

They may soon have a new weapon: satellite and computer technology being adapted for citrus groves by University of Florida engineers.

Precision agriculture, or "smart farming," uses high-tech gadgetry to enable farmers to micro-manage fields, reducing costs and boosting production. Most often used in the Midwest, where methods and gear are tailored for grain crops, the technique is being brought to Florida by agricultural engineering Professor Jodie Whitney and mechanical engineering Professor John Schueller.

"The citrus people right now are under severe economic pressure due to competition from Brazil," Schueller said. "We feel the way we can help Florida be more competitive is to make it more efficient."

Citrus farmers say they see promise in the researchers' efforts.

"I have to believe that it's going to increase our profitability," said Jeff Krieger, a grove operations engineer with Turner Foods Corp., a large South Florida citrus producer that owns some 19,000 acres of groves.

In the Midwest, combines equipped with the technology tap into a satellite network called the Global Positioning System during harvest, noting their location at many points on a field. A computer simultaneously records yield. Geographic Information System software blends the data on a map, providing a bird's eye view of how much grain each small portion of the field produces.

"You can see that, `Hey, this corner of the field has yielded less than this other corner,' and that's very important to the farmer," Schueller said.

Farmers may decide it's not cost-effective to continue farming the section. But like gardeners tending individual plants, they may also customize how they manage it.

If the soil is wet, they install drainage. If it lacks nutrients or is infested with insects or weeds, they vary applications of fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Estimates vary, but around 25 million acres of grain -- 8 percent of grain and soybean acreage -- were harvested by 17,000 combines equipped with the technology last year, he said.

Because citrus is not as big a commodity as grain, the technology never was adapted for citrus groves -- until Schueller and Whitney launched their research.

Stationed in Lake Alfred at the Citrus Research and Education Center, part of UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Whitney has outfitted a truck used to pick up orange bins with the satellite positioning system and load cells, which measure each bin's weight. The device notes the bin's location and the weight of oranges it contains.

Known as "goats," the trucks are open air vehicles, and challenges have included making the gadgetry tough enough to withstand harsh harvesting conditions. "It's heat and dust and rain, it's hydraulic oil, it's a very hostile environment," Whitney said.

A side benefit of the experimental system is automation of record keeping. Oranges are harvested by pickers paid based on their productivity. The driver keeps track of pickers' records on paper, but Whitney is trying to blend that into the technology.

"At the end of the day, we can pull this up and it will have the yield records on the bill, the pickers who picked it, where the containers came from...'‘ he said.

Schueller estimated citrus mapping could be common within three years. The next step will be to tailor fertilizer delivery equipment and other equipment to groves, he said.

Krieger noted the technology also is environmentally friendly. "We'll be applying the chemicals where they are needed at rates that are not excessive," he said.

Funded with $15,000 from the Florida Department of Agriculture and UF, the researchers plan this spring to apply for a $35,000 from an industry group and seek $30,000 in matching funds from manufacturers and other sources. The Florida Citrus Research Advisory Council rejected their application last year, but Schueller is hopeful.

"We're confident now that people are starting to see how this is applied to other crops and that they'll see this will work in citrus," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Florida. "UF Researchers Adapt Space-Age Technology To Citrus Farming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980303140041.htm>.
University Of Florida. (1998, March 3). UF Researchers Adapt Space-Age Technology To Citrus Farming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980303140041.htm
University Of Florida. "UF Researchers Adapt Space-Age Technology To Citrus Farming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/03/980303140041.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins