Dr. Ray Bucklin

Agricultural Structures

Ray Bucklin summarizes his work in three words: cows, greenhouses, and particles. His prestigious career includes numerous awards and being named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Bucklin’s work in Florida has been applied in many tropical and subtropical regions. In 2007, he received ASABE’s Henry Giese Structures and Environment Award for contributions to agricultural structures that have resulted in an improved food supply for people around the world. His career is a wonderful example of how an engineer is led from one interesting project to another through unexpected connections.

Bucklin first worked on structures and cooling systems to shelter cows from the heat. Then he turned his attention to bedding. Cows spend most of their day lying down, and Bucklin has worked with producers to explore bedding options, including special water beds. The trick is finding the right mix of materials that accommodates the cow's needs and the owner's budget.

More recently, Bucklin has been concerned with hoof wear. Florida cows spend a lot of time on concrete floors. This can wear down hooves and affect the soft tissues underneath. Bucklin has been looking at various kinds of floor coatings that can reduce this wear. The choice of flooring has to take into account the habits and weight of a large animal and the conditions in a dairy. Again, finding the right balance of durability, safety, and economy is an ongoing challenge.

Greenhouses --- Ray Bucklin has also worked on a lot of greenhouses, but he has taken this work to a new level — literally. Bucklin became involved a few years ago with the NASA effort to explore plant growth systems that could be used on extended space missions, such as a mission to Mars. To look into this, Bucklin and team developed a table-top growth environment --- a miniature domed greenhouse --- in which all conditions could be carefully controlled and monitored. Despite promising results, NASA reduced funding for space biology research and work stalled. Fortunately, a bequest to NASA dedicated to long-term space habitation has recently made some funds available to extend this work. 

Particles --- The particles Bucklin studies range from rice to potatoes. These and many other particulate products are handled in bulk, which poses special engineering challenges.Every industry that handles materials of this type must address these challenges.

Research on particles can be used in many stages of food processing. Bucklin concentrates on the post-harvest phase. This is the period after a commodity has been harvested during which there will be storage, handling, shipping, and other procedures needed to get the commodity to market or a processing plant in good condition.

Research

  • Member of UF’s Engineering Research Center for Particle Technology (PERC)
    • Conduct research dealing with flow of bulk solids.
  • Member of UF’s Center for Space Agriculture and Biotechnology Research and Education (SABRE)
    • Conduct research dealing with methods of growing plants for long-term space missions.
  • Develop improved methods of cooling livestock housing in hot, humid climates.

Teaching

  • ABE4413C: Post Harvest Operations Engineering
  • AOM4642: Environmental Systems for Ag Structures

Ray Bucklin - Professor