University of Florida

Did You Know?

Florida Agriculture

  • Agriculture, natural resources and related industries are an economic powerhouse in Florida, providing more than 2 million jobs, $141.8 billion in direct output (revenues), $119.9 billion in value added contributions, and accounting for 14.9 percent of total economic activity in 2012.
  • According to an extensive analysis published in 2010 by a team of agricultural economists, for every $1 invested in U.S. agricultural research and development there’s a return of $20 in benefits from increased agricultural productivity.
  • The State of Florida invests more than $150 million annually in UF/IFAS agricultural research and Extension. In return, this investment contributes about $3 billion in economic benefits to the state, based on the 20:1 benefit-cost ratio.
  • Driven by innovation and new technology, agriculture and related industries will continue to increase jobs and economic well-being in Florida.

Facts about EREC

  • The Everglades REC is situated on approximately 800 acres; 420 acres are planted in sugarcane, 45 in vegetable research, 250 acres contain buildings and grounds, and 100 acres are fallow.
  • Many of the major lettuce varieties presently grown not only in Florida, but in other parts of the country were developed by EREC lettuce Breeder Vic Guzman.
  • Mr. Emil Wolf, EREC celery and sweet corn breeder, was responsible for the majority of Florida’s celery varieties and was instrumental in the introduction of “super sweet” sweet corn varieties that are enjoyed throughout the world today.  Most of Florida celery varieties today are still based on Wolf’s varieties, they have just been crossed into California types to produce a more green colored celery and a little different leaf type.
  • In 1924, a 9-foot concrete post was driven to bedrock, with the top of the post level with the soil surface. A photograph taken in 1977 showed about 58 inches of soil subsidence. In March of 2005, the top of the post was 72 inches above ground, indicating 6 feet of soil subsidence in the past 81 years.
  • Annual subsidence rates have declined from approximately 1 inch per year to approximately ½ inch per year. This decrease has been partially attributed to Best Management Practices implemented by local growers.
  • The Everglades Soil Testing Laboratory (ESTL) was established in 1938 to address plant nutrient deficiency problems that were repeatedly observed in vegetable production. This lab is one of 2 University of Florida Soil Testing Labs. The other lab is in Gainesville where soil testing is done on mineral/sandy soils.
  • The ESTL Soil Testing Lab processes over 8,500 soil samples/year, totaling 30,000 chemical analyses/year.
  • In 1921, the Florida Legislature authorized the creation of the Everglades Experiment Station on lands near Belle Glade, Two years later, construction officially began, but the wild terrain of the Everglades coupled with the forces of nature, including hurricanes, brought many setbacks. Still researchers made early important discoveries. In 1928, Dr. Allison reported in UF Experiment Station bulletin 190 that copper in the fertilizers was essential to successfully growing crops in the muck soils. Ten years later, however, research was in full swing and was starting to pay off. Studies during the 1930s included cross-breeding cattle, nitrogen investigations, insect control and introduction of the new fiber crop, ramie. By 1940, crops such as bush snap beans, cabbage, celery, lettuce, onions and lima beans were being developed and bred specifically for the Everglades region. Research was also devoted to helping the countries war effort.


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