Plant Physiology, Nutrition & Management
National and international strengths in the Plant Physiology, Nutrition and Management Program area include forage evaluation, management, and utilization; diversified row crop and forage management; conservation tillage, multiple-cropping systems; utilization of urban and agricultural wastes as nutrient sources for crop production; and alternative crop plants. The University of Florida has maintained a strong international reputation in evaluation, management and utilization of tropical and cool-season forages. Recently, emphasis has been placed on environmental impact of forage production practices. Management recommendations have been developed that facilitate increased efficiency of nutrient cycling in grazed pastures and use of dairy wastes for production of forage crops while minimizing environmental impact. For field crops, an important strength has been the presence of a highly diversified crop management team that possesses expertise in cultivation practices of numerous crop plants including peanut, cotton, tobacco, corn, small grains, soybean, sugarcane and rice. Also, conservation tillage and multiple-cropping systems have been tested and implemented by Florida producers. Departmental scientists in this program area have developed management recommendations and programs for newly-released crop cultivars. The Agronomy Department has also had a strong program in energy crops and alternative crops.
Traditional strengths have been documenting and understanding the physiology of crops at the leaf, whole plant and crop canopy level, particularly in response to global climate change factors and other environmental factors, and to develop computer simulations of crop growth, development, and yield in response to various environmental factors. Significant contributions include documenting crop responses to rising carbon dioxide and climate change factors and development of crop simulation growth models for grain legumes that incorporate physiological mechanisms and allow hypothetical responses to climate change, crop management and genetic improvement. Current strengths are outstanding national and international reputations for crop systems modeling and research programs for assessing the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide and anticipated global climate change on crop production.