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UF Growth Chamber Facility is largest agricultural research facility in Florida

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 5:43 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The only facility like it’s kind in Florida, the new UF Growth Chamber Facility is expected to have a great impact on agricultural science.

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As the sunshine state, researchers often struggle with too much sunlight when conducting research in green houses. Now, with this Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS) facility, they can control and track the amount of light with led lights in their research.

Chair of UF’s Horticultural Education Department, Dean Kopeselle, explained how it works.

“We can control light, we can control temperature we can control light intensity periods,” Kopeselle said. “And that allows researchers to make adjustments to perform experiments that are going to make ultimate impact on horticulture and agriculture on the state.”

With 15 chambers, 15 different researchers can work on different climates on any number of crops, at the same time.

“Growth chambers come in a variety of sizes to bench top to a model that may be three to four times the sizes of your microwave at home.,” Kopeselle said. “They come in stand up models that are about the size of your refrigerator.”

Users of this facility can easily adjust the light banks to accommodate plants of different heights. Researchers can also track their study with touch screen technology.

Kopeselle said the facility and it’s features will also help farmers in their irrigation and fertilization studies.

“We already know that the plant breeders want to come in here because it’s going to give them the advantage to grow their crops all year around so, they won’t be at the mercy of yearly cycles,” Kopeselle said.

While scientists are still digging into global warming, the Co2 tracking devices will help them better understand quicker plant growth.

“Researchers, we want to know what sort of impact elevated Co2 levels are going to have on plant production and plant performance,” Kopeselle said.

It doesn’t just stop at crops. They also expect researchers who study reptiles and amphibians to use the chambers

“It’s going to be flexible enough to where there will be a lot of researchers,” Kopeselle said. “There’s going to be etymologists, wildlife ecologists and also soil scientists who can make use of this facility.”

The facility will benefit student research as well. It will be open to researchers in the spring.

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