Researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study where to find space to grow more produce in the future.

With the grant, from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Senthold Asseng, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, and scientist David Gustafson, of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Research Foundation, will lead a four-year research project to find more places to grow produce.

“Through this type of collaborative research, we discover the scientific answers that help solve world hunger problems,” Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said in a news release.

Asseng, Gustafson and scientists from the International Food Policy Research Institute, University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, Washington State University and the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services, will use crop, environmental, economic and climate modeling to predict current and future impacts on yield. They also will study the quality of selected fruit and vegetable crops in states where they are currently grown and identify locations that will allow for continued or potentially increased production.

Researchers plan to look at places that have sufficient water to grow fruits and vegetables, using climate data to see where produce can be grown.

Researchers will combine economic and crop models to determine current and future prices and production costs of crops, such as carrots, green beans, oranges, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet corn and tomatoes, according to the release.

Previous research focused on grain crops, which are generally grown without irrigation.