Bringing new crops to light by looking below ground

Dr. Shinsuke Agehara and his team at University of Florida

Scott Trimble

September 28, 2021 at 6:30 pm | Updated April 15, 2022 at 4:34 pm | < 1 min read

Exploring emerging crops in Florida with the CI-600 In-Situ Root Imager.

Growing hops in the subtropics is no easy task, but with real-time root data from the CI-600 In-Situ Root Imager, Dr. Shinsuke Agehara and his team at University of Florida are developing a holistic understanding how unique environmental factors could make Florida an optimal emerging region for growing the crop–spurring the development of entirely new industry opportunities in the state.

An expert in plant stress physiology, Dr. Agehara is uniquely positioned to bring a crop ordinarily grown in the more temperate U.S. region of the Pacific Northwest to Florida’s subtropical climate. “It’s not easy to grow hops here, so there is a lot to figure out” says Agehara, “our goal is to maximize production in each season by optimizing crop management practice and supplemental lighting…so we have to redevelop the optimal nutrient program [and] optimal plant spacing.” Using a combination of rhizotron boxes and a substantial installation of 30-40 CI-600 minirhizotron tubes, his team of scientists are able to consistently examine root morphology and behavior in the sandy soils and sometimes violent weather native to the region.

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