Budget conference: House still shorting Senate on UF fertilizer research funds

University of Florida INstitute of Food and Agricultural Sciences -- UF
The Senate is proposing $4M. The House’s offer: zilch.

University of Florida (UF) research on optimizing fertilizer use and minimizing its harm to the environment and drinking water is on shaky ground, as the Legislature’s two chambers remain far apart on a funding plan.

The Senate has held steadfast in offering the program $4 million. That’s $2 million less than what Panama City Sen. Jay Trumbull and Palm City Rep. Toby Overdorf, both Republicans, sought this year through matching appropriations requests.

But it’s still far more than the zero dollars the House has offered so far.

And time is running out. The chambers must reach an agreement on the budget by Tuesday to meet a required 72-hour “cooling off” period before they can vote on the budget.

Missing that deadline would push the Regular Session past its scheduled March 8 end date.

Launched in 2022 with a $8.75 million earmark, the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Nutrient Management Program is conducting 14 research projects into how different crops respond to fertilizers under specific conditions. That includes traditional academic research plots, working with growers in on-farm trials and compiling all available public data sources on nutrient applications.

At the program’s end, the institute would update its recommendations for fertilizer rates, which Florida growers could then use to control the amounts of nutrients in the soil and reduce surface runoff from agricultural operations.

The institute is also developing a database on nutrient recommendations that would be updated using artificial intelligence.

Of the $6 million Trumbull and Overdorf requested, $4 million would cover salary and benefits of UF faculty, postdoctoral associates, graduate and undergraduate students, research assistants, biological scientists and hourly workers. Most of the remainder, $1.925 million, would pay for field and lab equipment and supplies, computers, repairs and maintenance, soil and plant analyses, water analyses, tuition, publications, grower reimbursements, printing and mailing, and other costs.

The school also wants $48,000 from the state to partially pay the salary and benefits of a statewide “Nutrient Management Communications Coordinator” and $27,000 to cover the cost of supplies and travel.

Last year, the program received $6.2 million. This year’s funding requests, which carry Provost Scott Angle’s name, said UF plans to request another $6 million in the future.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


3 comments

  • Dangerous Hamas Safe Haven Florida

    March 3, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    Breaking – a bus full of Miami Jewish students was evacuated after bomb threat.

    Kids from the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center had stopped at the Fort Pierce Service Plaza on the Turnpike (Port Saint Lucie area) when a student approached a trooper and provided a text message referencing a bomb threat within one of the buses.

    As a precautionary measure, the service plaza was evacuated & the students were transported to a local school.

  • Breaking Wind

    March 3, 2024 at 3:49 pm

    That was two days ago, March 1st. Hardly breaking news, and has nothing to do with the article above on UF research funds being squeezed by legislators who are in the pocket of the fertilizer industry here in Florida.

  • BW2

    March 3, 2024 at 3:50 pm

    That’s in reference to the bus evacuation “Dangerous Hamas” wrote above.

Comments are closed.


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