Skip to main content

Dec. 5 global soil painting competition illustrates soil’s vital role

By mixing soils with water and clear gesso, a liquid binder, Kirsten Kurtz creates unique paints similar to acrylic that retain the quality and texture of the soil. Here she touches up a painting she made with soils in Bradfield Hall. Photo by Matt Hayes / College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The finished painting from 2015 World Soil Day community soil painting project organized by Kurtz.

The finished painting from 2015 World Soil Day community soil painting project organized by Kurtz.

Reposted from CALS news [2017-11-28]:

The soil under our feet may not be top of mind, but it provides the foundation for everything we need to live – and it’s disappearing. Kirsten Kurtz is on a mission to save this essential resource by turning our attention to its natural beauty.

Kurtz, manager of Cornell’s Soil Health Testing Laboratory and a graduate student in the field of natural resources, does this in a profound way: by painting with it.

“You can see how I became inspired,” she says, pulling out soil samples ranging in hue from reddish brown to tan to yellow ochre. “It was being in the lab and seeing all the colors come in.”

By mixing soils with water and clear gesso, a liquid binder, she creates unique paints similar to acrylic that retain the quality and texture of the soil. Kurtz, who first started experimenting with soil painting in 2014, says it’s an effective tool for communicating with the public about the importance of soil.

And thanks to her creativity, the whole world will get the message on World Soil Day, which will feature a global soil painting competition Dec. 5 organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The competition, inspired by an event Kurtz and the Soil Health Lab hosted in 2015 for World Soil Day, aims to showcase creativity in illustrating soil’s crucial role in sustaining life.

Read the whole article.

Dreer Award Seminar December 4: Raquel Kallas

Kallas measuring midday water potential during a 40-degree C (104 F) heatwave last week.

Kallas measuring midday water potential during a 40-degree C (104 F) heatwave.

Dreer Award Seminar:
Active Canopy Cooling Strategies to Mitigate the Negative Effects of Heatwaves on Grapevines

Raquel Kallas, MPS Horticulture ’16
Monday, December 4, 2017
12:20 to 1:10 p.m.
Plant Science Building, 404

Kallas traveled to Australia to work with Vinay Pagay (PhD ’14 Horticulture). Hear about her travels and her research. “His lab is on the cutting-edge of vineyard technologies that will allow us to better understand and manage the effects of climate change on vines and wine quality,” says Kallas. While a student at Cornell, Pagay helped develop a microfluidic water sensor within a fingertip-sized silicon chip that is a hundred times more sensitive than current devices.

Visit Kallas’s Dreer Award blog Grapes of Raq detailing her travels.

Administered by the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, the Frederick Dreer Award provides a wonderful opportunity each year for one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad to pursue interests related to horticulture. Read more about the Dreer Award.

Cornell group explores future of indoor farming

Reposted from CALS News and the Cornell Chronicle [2017-11-21]

Doctoral student Jonathan Allred, center, leads a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Horticulture doctoral student Jonathan Allred, center, leads a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Indoor farming entrepreneurs and experts came to Cornell in early November with a goal: leverage the innovation at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to create viable businesses for local vegetables and produce grown indoors.

Known as controlled environment agriculture (CEA), the systems combine greenhouse environmental controls such as heating and lighting with hydroponic and soilless production, enabling year-round production of fresh vegetables. The process extends the growing season through a range of low-tech solutions – such as row covers and plastic-covered tunnels – to such high-tech solutions as fully automated glass greenhouses with computer controls and LED lights.

Neil Mattson, director of Cornell CEA and associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, at left, explains lighting trials during a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / CCE

Neil Mattson, director of Cornell CEA and associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, at left, explains lighting trials during a tour of Cornell greenhouses in November. Photo by R.J. Anderson / CCE

Led by Neil Mattson, director of Cornell CEA and associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell has become a world leader in CEA research. In early November, the Cornell CEA Advisory Council, which was formed in 2015 to expand the retail and food service markets for products grown using CEA, hosted on campus more than 80 entrepreneurs and stakeholders from across the Northeast to discuss the state of the indoor farming industry, urban agriculture, supermarket trends and new technology.

Read the whole article.

Cover crop meeting draws big crowd

SIPS director Chris Smart welcomes the cover crop crowd to Cornell

SIPS director Chris Smart welcomes the cover crop crowd to Cornell

More than 170 researchers, educators, farmers, and agricultural service providers attended the Northeast Cover Crops Council’s (NECCC) Annual Meeting at The Statler Hotel on November 8 for a day-long program featuring more than 40 speakers and an evening poster session.

Speakers reported on the latest research and farmer-proven practices on a wide range of topics including techniques for establishing and terminating cover crops, their benefits, and how to get more farmers interested in cover cropping. Bianca Moebius-Clune (MS ’06, PhD ’09), Director of the USDA-NRCS Soil Health Divisiondelivered the opening keynote address. Moebius-Clune was formerly a Senior Extension Associate in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section.

“The great turnout we had is more evidence of the growing interest in using cover crops to prevent erosion, manage nutrients, suppress weeds, and increase both soil health and farm profits,” says Matt Ryan, assistant professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section and head of the Cornell Sustainable Cropping Systems Lab, who helped organize and hosted the meeting.

The second day of the meeting featured a field tour of the cover crop demonstrations at the USDA-NRCS Big Flats Plant Materials Center, Big Flats, N.Y.

The meeting was the first for the NECCC, whose mission is to support the successful implementation of cover crops to maximize economic, environmental, and social benefits.  The group facilitates regional collaboration between farmers, researchers and the public to foster the exchange of information, inspiration, and outcome-based research, and serves as a central clearinghouse for cover crop research in the Northeast.

Big Flats field tour at the NECCC Annual Meeting

Big Flats field tour at the NECCC Annual Meeting

Thinking about graduate school in Plant Sciences?

From Patty Chan, Pi Alpha Xi horticulture honor society:

Here’s your chance to learn the ropes.

Pi Alpha Xi horticulture honor society will host a Plant Sciences Grad School Panel for all CALS students on Wednesday, November 8th, 5:00-6:30 p.m. in 404 Plant Science.

The program is specifically tailored to students currently applying, or considering applying to grad school for programs related to plant sciences.  This panel will feature members of faculty and staff involved with graduate programs and admissions in the field as well as current graduate students studying in plant sciences.

This will be a great opportunity for anyone with questions about the application process or wondering whether graduate school would be a good fit for them.

Refreshments will be served. Come join us.

Seminar video: Student Trips to South Asia

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar Student Trips to South Asia: A Lab for Studying Agriculture Development with Terry Tucker, Marvin Pritts, and Marcus Ruberg ’18, it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Tastings, tours and more at the Cornell Orchards Apple Spectacular October 1

The Peck Lab will lead orchard tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The Peck Lab will lead orchard tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Sunday, October 1, 2017
1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Cornell Orchards, 701 Dryden Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

Come join the Cornell Orchards Store, Cornell Catering, and the Cornell Hard Cider Program Work Team for a family-friendly Finger Lakes Cider Week event celebrating all things apples and cider!

Cornell is a leader in hard cider research and outreach, and even teaches an undergraduate course on hard cider production!  We will have a wide selection of specialized cider apple varieties available for tasting and participants can create their own cider blends using freshly pressed apple juice.

Starting at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., the Peck Lab will lead walking tours of high-density cider apple research orchards. There will also be hard cider tastings from local producers along with delicious food pairings, and of course plenty of apples and sweet cider from Cornell’s research farms to purchase and take home.

Map, more information.

Horticulture graduate students Adam Karl and Nathan Wojtyna juice cider apples for hands-on 'make your own blend' tasting activity.

Come participate in a ‘make your own cider blend’ tasting activity.

Join ESS majors for Minns Garden ‘Art Intervention’ Sept. 29

Marion Wilson

Marion Wilson

More than 70 Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) majors will take part in an ‘Art Intervention’ in Minns Garden (map) under the leadership of Philadelphia-based artist Marion Wilson, Friday, September 29 starting at 12:20 p.m.

“The students in the ESS colloquium (ESS 2000) will observe and draw the biodiversity of the garden from three perspectives: standing, kneeling and lying down,” says Johannes Lehmann, professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, who co-teaches the colloquium with Susan Riha, Charles L. Pack Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

“Then we’ll hang their works throughout the garden, together creating an ephemeral artists’ herbarium and installation of this small natural world on campus,” adds Lehmann.

The Cornell community is invited to join in the process from 1:15 to 3 p.m.

Wilson is known for her frequent collaborative partnerships with students and botanists as well as, homeless people, real-estate developers, grocers, and government officials. In her own studio, she uses the lens of ecology to capture endangered landscapes and overlooked plant species, in particular moss.

Photo: MLAB blog.

BioBlitz highlights region’s diversity

Scott LaGreca, left, curator of the Plant Pathology Herbarium, examines lichens retrieved from upper tree limbs by Nathaniel Farrington of Cornell Outdoor Education. Photo: Magdalen Lindeberg

Scott LaGreca, left, curator of the Plant Pathology Herbarium, examines lichens retrieved from upper tree limbs by Nathaniel Farrington of Cornell Outdoor Education. Photo: Magdalen Lindeberg

Reposted from CALS News [2017-09-04]:

Biodiversity is not just a feature of the Amazon rainforest or other exotic locales. Hidden multitudes of species inhabit the Ithaca region, as participants in the inaugural School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) BioBlitz discovered Sept 8-9.

A dozen teams tallied 1,250 species of higher organisms and more than 23,000 microbes during the 24-hour event to document as many species as possible. Held on the grounds of the Cayuga Nature Center (CNC) and Smith Woods, the event was the first in the region. The series started in 1996 in Washington, D.C., and has since spread around the world.

The 2017 SIPS BioBlitz opened Sept. 8 with remarks by Chief Samuel George of the Cayuga Nation Bear Clan; Warren Allmon, director of the Paleontological Research Institution; and Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“At Cornell, it’s part of our jobs to be curious – which means I have one of the best jobs around,” Boor told participants at the launch of the event. “Like you, I’m inspired by what I can discover in the world around me, how to collect data and then share it with others.”

Boor and other speakers emphasized the importance of collaborations between universities and community members in preserving local lands and their biological diversity.

Read the whole article.

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Entrepreneur Conference Nov. 1-2

cea greensFrom Neil Mattson, Director, Cornell CEA and Associate Professor, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science:

Do you have a serious interest in developing a business plan for a New York state based commercial CEA vegetable operation? This conference is for you.

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) enables year-round production of fresh vegetables through greenhouse environmental control (heating, lighting) combined with hydroponic/soilless production systems. While CEA is an increasingly popular method of meeting consumer demand for locally grown food, many factors must be considered when developing a business plan and assessing its viability. This conference is intended to provide more detailed knowledge of CEA production systems, economics, marketing, and ways to access financing and state resources. It will also help guide new or transitioning operations through the process of developing a business plan for a CEA greenhouse vegetable business.

Read more about the conference and view the full agenda.

If you think this is for you, you’ll need to apply to attend. But if selected, the program is free. (You’ll need to cover travel and lodging expenses.)

Applications are due by September 29 and must be completed online here. If selected to attend you will be notified by October 3.

If you have questions, please contact me:  nsm47@cornell.edu

cea lighting system

Skip to toolbar