UF ABE Robotics Team competes at ASABE Annual International Meeting


Students from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering were recently awarded 8th place in the ASABE Student Design Competition at the ASABE annual meeting, where they competed against 14 other teams.

The student’s objective was to design and build a fully automated robotic system imitating the transfer of citrus from a harvester to a processing plant. The students built a system consisting of two robots, where one hauls the fruit and transfers it to another that moves the fruit to its final destination.

Students Amanda DeCanio,Brandon Roarke, Stacy Bromlow, Joe Cerillo, Eduardo Carrascal, Hao Gan, Akram Gholami, and Thiago Onofre all contributed to the project, with guidance from  Dr. Wonsuk (Daniel) Lee and Dr. Alireza Pourreza.

Read more about the students’ experience here: http://ufifasirrigator.blogspot.com/2016/10/diverse-humans-create-diverse-robots.html?m=1


ABE professor recognized for climate change research

UF ABE professor Senthold Asseng was published in the journal Nature Climate Change for his researching examining how temperature affects the growth of wheat crops.

Asseng, known for his modeling expertise, led a team of nearly 50 scientists from around the world in using simulations and statistical methods to estimate how rising temperatures will impact global crop production.

Asseng said that increased temperatures can prevent wheat, and other crops such as fruits and vegetables, from producing high yields. With climate change rising temperatures around the world, and the global population increasing to an estimated 9 billion by 2050, research on how temperature affects global crop growth is more important than ever.

Asseng said that accurate predictions of the true effects of climate change must consider models of climate, crop growth, and economic impacts.

This study, which was conducted as part of AgMIP – the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project, marks the first time different temperature-impact predictions have been compared globally. Asseng said that the findings will allow himself and other scientists around the world to have confidence in the accuracy of their predictions going forward.

More information on Asseng’s findings can be found here: http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2016/09/ufifas-study-global-food-security-aided-by-combining-different-methods/

UF ABE researchers develop new method for testing low-concentrations of chemicals

Researchers from the UF Agricultural and Biological Engineering department have discovered a better way to assess the impacts of mixtures of man-made chemicals on water bodies and their ecosystems.

The study’s lead authors, Rafael Muñoz-Carpena and Ismael Rodea-Palomares, along with colleagues in Spain, found a way to detect how low doses of pharmaceuticals and personal care products, known as PPCPs, affect aquatic life.

Low concentrations of these chemicals are widely released into freshwater bodies all over the world. Although they are not toxic individually, they collect and dilute over long periods of time in waters downstream from wastewater plans and sewage release points. These combinations of chemicals eventually make their way in low concentrations into other freshwater subsidiaries, including drinking water and soil.

While previous studies have examined PPCPs individually in high concentrations, Muñoz-Carpena and his team wanted to see how these mixtures of chemicals in low-concentrations realistically impact aquatic ecosystems.

Scientists introduced low-concentrations mixtures of common PPCPs, including caffeine, antibiotics, analgesics, psychiatric drugs, into a lab-created freshwater environment. Using blue algae that had been engineered to produce light, the team examined how different combinations of chemicals affected the algae’s metabolism, represented by its ability to emit light.

Muñoz-Carpena and his team found that a number of the PPCPs in the mixtures, particularly antibiotics and other common medicines, affected the algae’s growth, assimilation of nutrients, photosynthesis and reproduction.

This study not only shows the harmful effects of low-doses of PPCPs in complex mixtures, but also provides other scientists with an accurate method of testing how emerging chemicals impact aquatic life, something the field was lacking.

Muñoz-Carpena said the success of this new method has created many opportunities for other biological scientists.

The work was published in the prestigious Science Advances (AAAS) journal. More information on this study can be found here: https://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2016/09/new-ufifas-method-detects-low-dose-impacts-of-man-made-chemicals-in-water/