U of A Center in Yuma makes major moves for the Ag industry

U of A Agriculture Center in Yuma

YUMA, Ariz. - One department of the University of Arizona is making a major difference in the agriculture industry through research being done here in Yuma. 

It's called the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture. This is a public/private partnership between the University of Arizona and the College of Agriculture and the Ag industry.

It's funded by donors whom a lot of them are local farmers.

"They tell me what are the problems they are having and what are the concerns they have about the future of the industry and then we work really closely with them to make sure we can try to solve those problems," Paul Brierley, executive director of the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture (YCEDA) said.

From soil health to irrigation management, plant disease and new technology, the YCEDA is testing many things to help farmers get the best crop.

Brierley believes agriculture is leading the way in the fourth revolution.

The YCEDA also works with NASA and the USDA as well as other organizations to help solve these problems and advance the ag industry.

"You have climate change and you always have different things, bugs, pests, but diseases they [farmers] said we are really struggling with plant diseases," Brierley said.

YCEDA has been working in Yuma for three years trying to find the best answers for farmers.

"These farmers here are so progressive," he said. "They are always looking for something that gives them the edge that make them more productive, more profitable, quicker to market, have a better and safer product," he added.

One of the biggest problems farmers come to him for an answer on how to deal with plant disease.

"We've done three years now of field trials where we are actually in fields that have the disease in the soil and normally they wouldn't plant lettuce there because it wouldn't make sense but they let us plant lettuce there so we can actually see what happens and try different varieties that they think would be affective," he said.

Even the president at the University of Arizona, is recognizing the agriculture work being done here in Yuma. 

"We have a new president at the University of Arizona, President Robbins. His big push is for the U of A to have a big impact on the fourth revolution, which is the digitization of everything, bio technology advances, material advances and putting that all together and really impacting the world," he shared. "It turns out that agriculture is really leading on a lot of this stuff,  you know genetics genome sequencing, plant breading, all of these things that we've been doing to make us more productive, more efficient to feed the world," he said. "Now we are using remote sensing, drones and data analytics," Brierley said.

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