GROwing Floriculture Research And Extension

Marc van Iersel

Marc van Iersel

Research and outreach efforts help keep floriculture production profitable. With seemingly continuous budget cuts to university and federal budgets, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to sustain their programs and to keep making a positive impact on the industry.

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So what can be done to ensure that the industry will keep getting the research and outreach support it has come to rely on? There already is a variety of funding programs that support research and Extension programs in our industry. This funding is critical for many floriculture research and outreach programs. What can we do to leverage that funding and make sure it has the biggest possible impact?

A program that I was part of in 2010 may serve as a model. LAUNCH was co-founded by NASA, NIKE, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State as a program to help make innovative ideas become a reality. LAUNCH organizes annual meetings around a topic of societal importance and then invites 10 innovators to a two-day forum, with the goal of launching those projects to the next level.

The theme for the inaugural 2010 forum at the Kennedy Space Center was water, and I was invited to participate and discuss my work on soil-moisture sensors and irrigation control. During the first day, the 10 innovators presented their ideas to a group of leaders and stakeholders.

The second day focused on discussions in small groups, where the individual innovators discussed with the stakeholders how their ideas can be made a reality. The focus was on identifying obstacles and ways to overcome them.

Among the responsibilities of the stakeholders was the use of their extended network to help move these ideas from concept to reality. You can find much more information about this program at launch.org. And if you are interested in learning what became of the research on soil moisture sensors and irrigation control, visit smart-farms.net to see how your tax dollars were used to strengthen our industry.

Working Together To Propel Floriculture Forward

How can the LAUNCH process be adapted to the floriculture industry? Industry leaders, including representatives from the suppliers, retailers and growers, can identify the most impactful research or outreach ideas, perhaps based on proposals submitted to the various funding agencies that support our industry. The next step would be a one- or two-day forum where the invited people would present their ideas to a group of industry leaders, followed by small group discussions.

The floriculture industry, researchers and Extension personnel all depend on each other. More industry input into and involvement in research and Extension projects helps everyone. Growing Research and Outreach benefits the industry and those who serve it. If you are interested in making this happen, let me know.