University of Florida

Plant Science Unit History

The University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS)Plant Science Research and Education Unit (PSREU) property was owned by the Shands family in the early 1950’s.  The land was purchased in the late 50’s by the Bedford family, who donated the property in 1972 to the University of Florida for cattle research.  Until 1995, the University conducted research with Angus and Brahman cattle as well as crossbred lines.  In 1995, the Animal Science Department moved UF/IFAS animal facilities to the Boston property and the adjacent Santa Fe River Ranch north of Alachua.

During 1995, UF/IFAS Administration began a consolidation of agronomic, fruit and vegetable field operations around Gainesville to the PSREU.  In 1995, clearing of the land began and in 1997 the first irrigation pipelines were installed.  In 1999, the first stages of construction began with the building of a maintenance shop, pesticide mix load facility and equipment storage facility.  During 2000, a faculty support building, peanut building, dryer building, packinghouse, and two equipment storage facilities were completed.  Subsequently, through 2006 two more equipment storage facilities, greenhouses and a fertilizer storage building, faculty storage, turf fertilizer storage, citrus greenhouse and a turf research building have been constructed and turf research building.

Initial experiments with agronomic row crops began in the spring of 2000 with the closing of the agronomy site at Gainesville and the relocation of the staff to the PSREU.  In 2002, vegetable crop research was consolidated from the Horticultural Unit in Gainesville to the PSREU.

The Plant Science Research and Education Unit serves UF/IFAS faculty from throughout the state.  Currently 140 or more UF/IFAS researchers are conducting more than 400 projects, including trees and woody ornamentals, turf production and maintenance, plant breeding, minimum and reduced tillage, crop water management, plant pathology, plant fertility, corn genomics, vegetable production, organic agriculture, citrus, wetland ecology, entomology, nematology, and weed science.  UF/IFAS is collaborating with other organizations in conducting weather and climate studies, as well as ground cover radar density studies, at the PSREU.

The PSREU presently consist of 1,068 acres of land. Within the total acreage, roughly 700 acres are cultivatable land.  The remaining acreage comprises the “Hawthorne Prairie” and is wetland in nature which is utilized for wetland and aquatic research.

The PSREU also has the responsibility for all heavy equipment owned by UF/IFAS.  Equipment and operators are provided to other university sites within a 50-mile radius of Gainesville for site preparations i.e.. land clearing and other dirt/land moving operations.   The PSREU also administers the Federal Excess Property Program.  This program operates statewide and it allows UF/IFAS to obtain general supplies, vehicles and heavy equipment from the military to be used in food and agricultural research programs.

In July 2010 the PSREU Administration building was completed.  This building houses the PSREU administrative staff and consist of 8 individual offices, a conference room, and lobby area. 

In April 2012 The Frank Stronach Plant Science Center was completed.  This building will consist of lobby area and a dividable meeting/conference room and will be used for, extension meetings and conferences as well as a training site for county agent in–service training and master gardener instruction.  This building will be the hub of all operations at PSREU and will be a gathering site and focal point for all activity at PSREU in the future.