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Could a Platoon of Helicopters Have Saved Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms?

Popular Mechanics [2017-03-20] talked to Marvin Pritts, professor in the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, about some of the more drastic techniques professional growers use to protect their plants — and the rest of us can use to survive the weird weather this winter.

The helicopters might have worked.

Read the whole article.

Nina Bassuk (right) coaches Marvin Pritts and pupils on late-winter pruning techniques.

Nina Bassuk (right) coaches Marvin Pritts and pupils on late-winter pruning techniques.

Seminar video: Cover crop and weed management in a living mulch system for vegetables

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar Cover crop and weed management in a living mulch system for vegetables with Vinay Bhaskar, Graduate Field of Horticulture, it is available online.


More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Greenhouse staff plow on through nor’easter

Greenhouse grower Julie Blaha relishes the springtime color March 15, as she waters flowers at the Post Labs in the middle of a snowstorm. (Photo: Blaine Friedlander/Cornell Chronicle)

Greenhouse grower Julie Blaha relishes the springtime color March 15, as she waters flowers at the Post Labs in the middle of a snowstorm. (Photo: Blaine Friedlander/Cornell Chronicle)

Excerpted from the Cornell Chronicle [2017-03-16]:

For the first time since February 2014, Cornell closed the Ithaca campus due to snow, halting all but essential services from noon March 14 until 4:30 p.m. March 15.

Although officially closed, the work of Cornell continued. Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) greenhouse grower Julie Blaha braved the roads from her home in Odessa, New York, to tend plants in the Kenneth Post Laboratories and Greenhouses, while grower Laurence Walsh patched several broken windowpanes when melted snow and ice fell through the roof.

Walsh, born and raised in Hawaii, moved to Ithaca six months ago. “I have discovered that I love the cold,” he said. “It’s so refreshing.”

United Parcel Service suspended Ithaca operations due to the snow, but Andy Leed, CUAES greenhouse manager, picked up his weekly shipment of beneficial insects – cucumeris mites that control greenhouse thrips and persimilis that control spider mites. “UPS unloaded their 18-wheeler truck to sort through it to find my box,” said Leed. “These are biocontrols; they’re tropical insects. If they freeze, they’re gone.”

Read the whole article.

‘On healthy soil and dirty art’ at Science Cabaret March 21

From the Field to Canvas: On Healthy Soil and Dirty Art

Tuesday, March 21
7 to 9 p.m.
Coltivare Restaurant
235 S. Cayuga St.

Join Kirsten Kurtz and Bob Schindelbeck from the Cornell Soil Health Laboratory to dig into new perspectives on soil. As soil health is gaining recognition as being paramount for human survival these scientists will explore the nature and properties of soil and agriculture while illustrating the beauty of this resource through a live soil painting.

More information.


Register now for Soil Summit March 28-29

CALS News [2017-03-15]:

Soil amendments such as raw manure offer clear benefits to agricultural production, but they can also pose potential environmental and food safety risks if not handled properly. The Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule outlines some requirements for using soil amendments because of the microbial risks associated with their use.  Raw manure has been shown to have a higher potential to contain foodborne pathogens that can cause illness, especially if fruits and vegetables become contaminated, either directly (e.g., improper application or processing of compost) or indirectly (e.g., through contaminated irrigation water from runoff).

To discuss the benefits and challenges of using soil amendments such as raw manure and compost relative to the safety of fresh fruit and vegetable production, Cornell food safety experts are convening a summit March 28-29, 2017. The Soil Summit will provide the opportunity for produce growers, educators, and researchers to discuss and identify barriers to using/producing compost while also identifying management strategies, resources, and additional support necessary to support growers in minimizing food safety risks on the farm, especially when using raw manure.

Held at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, the summit will address the need to support produce growers in identifying management options that preserve the benefits and minimize the risks from using soil amendments such as manure and compost, while also addressing the environmental impacts. The summit will include presentations and break out discussions, and provide participants a better understanding of current research and risk assessment efforts by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. Participants will learn details about the final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and the standards it sets in the use of biological soil amendments of animal origin and human waste.

The summit costs $100. Registrations can be made at:

Vanden Heuvel recognized for grape, wine research

Vanden Heuvel

Vanden Heuvel

Cornell Chronicle [2017-03-14]

In recognition of her major contributions to the state’s wine and grape industries, Justine Vanden Heuvel has earned this year’s research award from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (NYWGF).

The foundation recognized Vanden Heuvel, associate professor of enology and viticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for her research optimizing flavors and aromas in wine grapes, and for improving the environmental and economic sustainability of wine grape production in cool climates. She received the award March 1 at the annual NYWGF unity banquet, part of the three-day B.E.V. New York organized by Cornell and held near Rochester. …

Research by Vanden Heuvel has provided guidance for vineyard management decisions to improve economic outcomes and reduce environmental impacts. A series of papers published during the summer demonstrated that planting cover crops beneath vines reduces nutrient and agrochemical leaching from vineyards while reducing production costs.

In addition to research and outreach work, Vanden Heuvel teaches undergraduate courses on the science of viticulture and enology, as well as a course on wine culture.

“New York has earned its reputation as one of the world’s premier grape and wine producers, but that success can only be sustained through a continued commitment to research,” said Vanden Heuvel. “Growers face uncertainty as climate shifts, and rely on robust research programs to guide sustainable innovation. I am proud that my research helps growers prosper and maintains New York’s reputation as a grape and wine powerhouse.”

Read the whole article.

Giving Day

CALS Annual Fund: Make a Gift. Change the World.


Each year, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Annual Fund helps direct financial resources to where they are needed at the college—from helping students meet the cost of tuition, to supporting cutting-edge research that will prevent crop disease, alleviate food insecurity issues or improve interpersonal communication, to hiring faculty members who will inspire students in new ways.

Your gift to the CALS Annual Fund has a direct, positive effect on our college’s world-class education and research that works daily to solve our shared global problems.

Learn more. Make a gift.

Outstanding work, advocacy earn Excellence in IPM award for Cornell Cooperative Extension educator

Christy Hoepting

Christy Hoepting

From the NYSIPM Program:

GENEVA, NY, March 8, 2017: Christy Hoepting grew up on a small farm north of Toronto, Ontario. Enrolling at the University of Guelph, a top-tier ag school, was a natural fit. And though she focused on onion production while doing applied research for her master’s degree, she never dreamed she’d make a career of it. But then her advisor told her that a job with cooperative extension had opened up in western New York. She suggested that Hoepting apply. The interview, after all, would be a good learning experience.

“What’s extension?” Hoepting remembers asking. But exceptional preparation and delivery were second nature for Hoepting. She got the job.

Now, for her exemplary work on behalf of farmers, not just in the rich muck-soil region of western New York but statewide and nationally, Hoepting has earned an Excellence in IPM award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) at Cornell University. IPM weaves together a broad range of tactics that minimize the environmental, health and economic risks of pests and pesticides both.

“Christy is a star in Cornell Cooperative Extension,” says Brian Nault, a professor of entomology at Cornell. “She’s a gifted educator and advocate, more passionate and successful in promoting IPM practices than just about anyone I know.” While onions are Hoepting’s main research focus — they’re a high-value crop for New York, with annual sales upward of $40 million — growers in western New York also welcome her expertise in cabbage, broccoli and garlic.

Read the whole article.

PCCW symposium looks at food ethics, small farms

Andrew Chignell, visiting associate professor in the Sage School of Philosophy, left, and Anu Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program, speak at the 2017 President’s Council of Cornell Women Symposium, “Feeding the World Sustainably." (Photo: Chris Kitchen/University Photography)

Andrew Chignell, visiting associate professor in the Sage School of Philosophy, left, and Anu Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program, speak at the 2017 President’s Council of Cornell Women Symposium, “Feeding the World Sustainably.” (Photo: Chris Kitchen/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2017-03-07]

Roughly 100 Cornell alumnae gathered March 4 as part of the 2017 President’s Council of Cornell Women Symposium, “Feeding the World Sustainably.”

Highlights included presentations on food ethics by Andrew Chignell, professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and visiting associate professor in Cornell’s Sage School of Philosophy, and on small farms by Anu Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. …

Rangarajan discussed her work with small farms and what communities can do to ensure such farms are supported. She said 90 percent of the world’s farms are small farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a small farm as an operation making less than $350,000 in gross revenue per year. Rangarajan said a small farm is also an operation in which the majority of the labor is provided by the family or one principal operator.

Rangarajan also noted that the majority of world’s farmers are women. “Just as reminder,” she said, “that is the real face of agriculture.” Women represent a growing percent of the farmers in the U.S. as well, she said.

Read the whole article.


Ag-Tech Symposium March 10

symposium flyerLand O’Lakes will be visiting campus to host two presentations and a panel discussion Friday morning on a precision tool they have developed, the R7.

Ag-Tech Symposium
Friday, March 10
148 Stocking Hall

  • 8:00-8:45 a.m.: Harnessing Innovation to Feed the World – Mike Macrie ’99, Senior VP and Chief Information Office, Land O’Lakes
  • 8:45-9:30 a.m.: Winfield’s Innovative Ag-Tech Journey – Teddy Bekele, Vice President, IT at Winfield
  • 9:30-10:15 a.m.: Panel Interview and Q&A – Mike Macrie ’99, Teddy Bekele, and Joel Wipperfurth, facilitated by Jan Nyrop

No RSVP necessary.

More About the R7 Tool:

Winfield Solutions, the seed and crop protection products arm of Land O’Lakes, has introduced a web-based precision planning tool that allows farmers to get a start in variable-rate seeding and fertility programs. The R7 tool uses satellite imagery as a stand-in for actual yield and soil test data. Working with retailer agronomists, farmers used the tool to develop crop plans on millions of acres scheduled for planting. It is a tool for farmers without extensive yield and grid soil sampling records to use to get started in precision ag. It also improves Winfield’s ability to convey information about crop genetics it gathers from its 200 locations across the U.S.

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