Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS)
Food Production and Environmental Sustainability

Sustainable food production is a key part of food security. Food production on an individual farm is part of a larger system that includes the development and distribution of productive and nutritious crop varieties, the development and testing of cropping system strategies including management of pests and diseases, and methods for distributing food safely. Food systems have a wide range of stakeholders, including consumers, farmers, processors, distributors, and those responsible for environmental protection.

Global food systems face a number of challenges in the 21st century. The growing human population will need increased food production. At the same time that the need for food increases, there will be increasing competition for land use for food, fiber, and biofuel production, putting increasing pressure on wildlands and conservation areas that maintain global biodiversity. Climate change will present challenges as production systems must shift and many regions may have fewer good production options. Emerging crop diseases and pests will require adjustments to cropping systems, as well. Effective responses to all these challenges will depend on good strategies for developing agricultural infrastructure, including research and communication systems, at global and local levels.

ISFS is contributing to the development of better agricultural strategies through analysis of agriculture at the system level. IFAS is rich in experts in different facets of agricultural production. ISFS works to integrate their expertise in models of the effects of agricultural strategies in individual farmers’ fields, across Florida, and globally.

Current Projects

Managing Laurel Wilt of Avocado
Laurel wilt is a significant threat to avocado in Florida and other regions. This new USDA-funded ($3.4 million) project will develop strategies for managing the disease.

Managing Seed Degeneration and Improving Seed Systems
Systems for maintaining healthy seed availability are a major problem, particularly for root, tuber, and banana crops in developing countries. This project funded by CGIAR addresses improved strategies for the problem.

Pest Risk Assessment and Management in the Lake Kivu Region
Emerging pests and diseases of staple crops in the Lake Kivu region of East Africa are threats to production. This project funded by CGIAR addresses strategies for current invasion threats and for new risks under climate change.

Impact Network Analysis of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt Management
New methods for managing banana Xanthomonas wilt are promising, but their performance depends on environmental and social factors. This project funded by CGIAR addresses how to adjust implementation for different systems.

Phytobiomes and Sustainable Crop Production
New opportunities for sequencing microbial communities make it possible to evaluate associations among crop productivity and the frequency of thousands of microbes. This project funded by USDA and Ceres Trust is developing a new framework for evaluating this complex new form of big data.