Michael Dukes will lead the Center for Land Use Efficiency, an effort by University of Florida and its Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences. ( Courtesy of UF/IFAS )

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is establishing a center to take a more holistic approach to solving water and land use issues facing Florida.

The Center for Land Use Efficiency will focus on farming and urban landscapes, galvanizing university and institute faculty to collaborate on solutions, Jack Payne, University of Florida senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said in a news release.

The new entity combines faculty from the Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, the Program for Resource Efficient Communities and scientists who conduct research. It includes Extension education about agricultural best management practices.

Michael Dukes, a University of Florida professor of agricultural and biological engineering, will lead the new effort. 

About 21 million people live in Florida, and 1,000 new people move to the state each day, stretching the state’s finite water supply and natural resources, Dukes said in the release. 

IFAS faculty from environmental horticulture, agricultural and biological engineering, horticultural sciences, agronomy, soil and water sciences, Florida Sea Grant and family, youth and community sciences — among other disciplines — will be part of this center.

“Faculty always do better when they’re part of something greater, when they’re looking at different points of view,” Dukes said in the release.

The center will be able to share more data and leverage it to request funding, as well as study how to manage nutrients such phosphorus and nitrogen, which can come from residential, commercial and agricultural sources.