Research at IRREC

Research

UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center research programs fulfill the center's mission to: conduct research to develop and disseminate new scientific knowledge and technology on commercial citrus, vegetable and ornamental crops, invasive plants and insects, and aquaculture which allow Florida agriculture to remain sustainable to the state's economy, and to be compatible with the environment.

Nine IRREC faculty members, each who hold a Ph.D. in their respective fields, conduct research in the foregoing topics. Following, a few IRECC research programs are highlighted:

Ron Cave and Bill Overholt conduct biological control research in The Hayslip Biological Control Research and Containment Laboratory, opened in 2004. Work carried out in the laboratory will greatly expand the state's biological control programs. Current research programs include: biological control research for the control of invasive plants such as Brazilian peppertree, air potato, hydrilla, tropical soda apple and West Indian marsh grass; programs for the control of invasive pests include the cycad aulacaspis scale and the Mexican bromeliad weevil.

The economics of invasive species, and how much consumers may be willing to pay to control unwanted plant and insect pests was the topic of a recent research project conducted by Ferdinand Wirth. An agricultural economist, Wirth's past research projects include behavior, attitude and preference related to seafood markets and product marketing.

A 26-acre aquaculture site is situated about a half mile from the IRREC. At this site, Cortney Ohs is conducting aquaculture research on multiple species. Plans are to research species of marine bait fish to better serve Florida's multi-million dollar sport fishing industry.

Sandra Wilson conducts environmental horticulture research with ornamental plants. Her research focuses on characterizing the invasive potential of ornamental plants, developing organic-based medium components for containerized perennials, roadside use of native wildflowers, and enhanced commercial selection and micropropagation of sea oats genotypes for dune stabilization.

Other research projects are designed to serve multiple facets of the region's industry. Charles Powell investigates pathology of field crops. Post-harvest expert Mark Ritenour, investigates methods to preserve fruit and vegetables following harvest. Brian Boman, an agricultural engineer, conducts irrigation and micro-irrigation research for citrus and vegetable commodities. Water quality research is being conducted by Environmental Toxicologist Patrick Wilson. Peter Stoffella conducts research on commercial horticulture; Zhenli He conducts research for soil fertility and water quality.

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