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Ricardo Hernandez

Department of Horticultural Science

Associate Professor

Kilgore Hall 170


Ph.D. Plant Physiology/Control Environment Agriculture University of Arizona 2013

M.S. Biological Control and Integrated Pest Management Texas A and M University 2009

B.S. Agronomy/Crop Consultation New Mexico State University 2005


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Date: 09/01/21 - 8/31/25
Amount: $5,294,195.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

The capacity of strawberry nurseries to develop clean plant material in a timely manner is crucial to the $ 2.6 billion US strawberry production industry. However, strawberry propagation in North America is a costly multi-year and multi-location operation, leading to a multitude of challenges: (a) Dependency on methyl bromide (MB) for soil disinfestation; (b) Plants as symptomless carriers of plant pathogens; (c) Significant inefficiencies, leading to higher costs for duplicative infrastructure, equipment, labor costs and transportation; There is a critical need for the strawberry nursery industry to reduce overall costs, minimize the spread of pathogens and find alternatives to MB. We propose to address these needs through a coordinated and systematic approach in close collaboration with national and international stakeholders. We have the long-term goal to accelerate the development of optimized, clean propagation techniques, using precise indoor propagation (PIP) practices and genetic tools. Our specific objectives are (1) Development of PIP protocols to optimize strawberry propagation; (2) Determine plant propagation capacity using genetic and morphological tools; (3) Determine socio-economic structure and supply chain of the US strawberry industry; (4) Develop fully functional PIP system and transfer technology into on-farm solutions. We propsoe to develop nursery specific services, products and on-farm technology, and we will extent our research through a multitude of activities, including yield prediction tools for strawberry farmers in the US. The main outcome of this project is the development of cost-effective strawberry propagation systems, leading to reduced use of MB and the mitigation of diseases and pathogen spread.

Date: 01/01/23 - 12/31/24
Amount: $10,000.00
Funding Agencies: Plenty

CEA - Consortium

Date: 01/01/23 - 12/31/24
Amount: $10,000.00
Funding Agencies: AGEYE Technologies

CEAC - Consortium

Date: 01/01/22 - 12/31/23
Amount: $85,840.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS)

We propose to develop research protocols, tools and techniques fundamental to the development of Precise Indoor Vine Conditioning (PIVC) technology at NC State University. We envision PIVC to use Controlled Environment (CE) and data technology to optimize fruiting capacity of vines, leading to game-changing systems of perennial fruit production. PIVC would allow to grow traditionally perennial crops as fully annual culture, as well as the use of vines as ‘starter plants’. Such a system would address major concerns of stakeholders and persistent problems in the fruit growing industry, leading to improved economics and cost recovery, less pesticide and labor input, and improved adaptability to markets. Our objectives are to investigate light recipes, fruiting capacity and economics of PIVC treated vines, while developing collaborations, involving nationwide stakeholders, leading to funded multi-state, national research and extension projects in the future. The outcome of this project are environmental protocols and tools, ready to be used by industry.

Date: 10/01/20 - 9/30/23
Amount: $155,000.00
Funding Agencies: United States - Israel Binational Agricultural Research & Development Fund (BARD)

The proposal is based on the hypothesis that the solar spectrum could be split in away, that one could provide the required waveband for photosynthesis and photo-morphogenesis, while effectively converting other parts of the spectrum into photovoltaic electricity. The rationale is available technology for both spectral splitting and photovoltaic conversion. It is assumed that beam splitters could be engineered to reduce yield penalty or further increase/optimize the plant performance. The proposed research is based on the characterization of the relation between light intensity, light spectrum, and crop physiology, including dry mass and morphology. The rationale is based on plant specific responses to light intensity (photosynthetic photon flux) and spectrum were both can be optimized to increase plant growth (see preliminary result section). The overall hypothesis is that with the optimized beam splitter photovoltaic technology and appropriate crop selection, both food production and electricity generation will be produced using the same land-resource.

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