By Clint Thompson
A celebration 100 years in the making occurred Friday at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy, Florida.
The center which encompasses 1,000 acres, 13 active faculty members, seven emeritus faculty and three faculty from the Northwest Extension district, representing forage/small grains breeding, specialty crops like vegetables, fruits and nuts and agronomic crop production, celebrated 100 years of service during a morning ceremony.
“A 100 years is a long time. But in agriculture research, it does take a lot of time. More than just the 100 years of time, it’s what’s been accomplished during that time. The significance of the 100 years is found more in the discoveries that have taken place,” said Barry Tillman, assistant director of NFREC.
“We heard speakers talk about varieties that saved entire industries, like the tobacco industry back when it was important, and the wheat industry. We see that now with new discoveries happening from this location in terms of how to control weeds and diseases and insects as well as new varieties that are coming out of all different crops.”
Among those in attendance to speak was Scott Angle, UF/IFAS Senior Vice President, Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“One of the things that I think is so incredible is what we see here was started by Abraham Lincoln,” Angle said. “The concept of this center, agriculture, research and education was started by him. It took another 50 years or so to fill out the full system of research, teaching and Extension. It’s an old model, but what’s so amazing, it’s a model that was started in the 1860s that today is maybe more important than it’s ever been. The goal of this center is to find answers to problems that our farmers and farming communities have through research and Extension.”
While the day focused on celebrating the past, the focus now is the future. This includes challenges that producers must encounter.
“The most immediate one is on nutrient management and fertilizer recommendations. We’ve got some problems that relate back to Senate Bill 712, trying to help clean up some of the waters of the state,” Angle said. “That’s one that is most immediately important.
“In the longer run, how do we balance rapid growth in a state like Florida, the need to double food production on this planet and keep a clean environment all at the same time? We’ve got to do all three. That happens through research and education. This is where a lot of the future decisions for how we manage a state like Florida will happen.”
The celebration ended Friday afternoon with different tours of the campus.