An innovative approach to one of the most basic elements of agriculture—soil beds—is helping Florida growers save on water, fertilizer, and fumigation inputs. Dr. Sanjay Shukla, an agricultural and biological engineering researcher at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, has devised a method of using compacted soil in taller, narrower rows. With the new method, which Shukla calls “compact bed geometry” or “hilling”, growers can use half the irrigation drip lines they used to, as well as fewer square feet in plastic mulch covering. Shukla estimates that the revamped rows can save farmers $100 to $300 per acre. Moreover, using less water on crops results in less water contaminated with fertilizer discharging into our nearby lakes, streams and rivers. It’s a win-win situation for growers in Collier County and throughout the state.
In this UF/IFAS Video, a Florida eggplant farmer talks about the impact Dr. Shukla's research has had on his bottom line.
Sanjay Shukla conducts research on raised plant beds at the Southwest Florida REC in Immokalee. UF/IFAS File Photo