Archive for the “Extension and outreach” Category

If you fell asleep, Walter De Jong, potato breeder in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section, appeared on The Daily Show last night in an investigative segment The Return of a Simplot Conspiracy.

“Walter does a great job explaining the science, even with potatoes being thrown at him, says Horticulture Section associate chair Steve Reiners.

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Nina Bassuk and Urban Eden students tag a Littleleaf Linden in front of Warren Hall.

Nina Bassuk and Urban Eden students tag a Littleleaf Linden in front of Warren Hall.

What’s a tree worth?

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920) are helping to make people more aware of why trees are worth hugging by hanging bright green “price tags” on trunks around the Ag Quad.

The students entered data about the trees, such as species, diameter and location, into i-Tree — a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service. The application then calculates monetary benefits from reduced stormwater runoff, improved air quality,  carbon dioxide sequestration and energy savings to nearby buildings by blocking wind in winter and providing shade in summer.

“It’s really quite eye-opening for people who think that trees are just nice to look at and don’t have any other value,” said Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, who leads the class alongside Peter Trowbridge, professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture.

There are also benefits that are not easily quantified, such as wildlife habitats and emotional responses, added Bassuk, who is also director of the Urban Horticulture Institute.

More Urban Eden tree-taggers:

Urban Eden students tagging trees on Ag Quad.


Urban Eden students tagging trees on Ag Quad.

Urban Eden students tagging trees on Ag Quad.

Urban Eden students tagging trees on Ag Quad.

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If you missed yesterday’s School of Integrative Plant Science seminar, Engineering the symbiotic signalling pathway of cereals, with Giles Oldroyd, Project Leader, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, John Innes Centre, it’s available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

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Hellebore watercolor by Marcia Eames-Sheavly

Learn botanical illustration online.  Three courses taught by Marcia Eames-Sheavly start May 4, 2015:

You can view works by students in previous classes on display in the cases in the west wing of the first floor of Plant Science Building. The course webpages also have links to previous students who have posted their works online.

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iBook covers

With the grass finally starting to green up in the Northeast, two new iBooks from Cornell University will help you turn your lawn into an environmental asset — as well as a beautiful place to relax and play.

Lawn Care: The Easiest Steps to An Attractive Environmental Asset  – This iBook features seven short how-to videos, photo galleries, interactive images and concise, easy-to-understand steps to cultivate a healthy lawn, including how to mow your lawn less and enjoy it more. It also details more advanced techniques, including best feeding strategies and how to cope with weeds, pests, diseases and soil compaction.

Turfgrass Species and Variety Guidelines for NYS  – Thinking about starting a new lawn or renovating an old one? This iBook will help you choose the grass species and varieties best adapted to your growing conditions, lawn care plan and expectations.

The Cornell Turfgrass Program, the Cornell Garden-Based Learning Program, and the New York State IPM Program all contributed to these iBooks.

Professional turf managers will also benefit from these recently launched Cornell websites:

Turfgrass and Landscape Weed ID – The first step when managing weeds is to know what weeds you have. This mobile-friendly site makes it simple to identify common New York weeds based on easily observed traits and provides simple solutions for control.

Managing Safe Sports Fields – Everything sports turf managers, coaches, administrators and players need to create safe playing fields, from managing soils and choosing grasses to mowing and fertilizing strategies and pest management. Interactive management schedules provide timely advice.

Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses – Research-based, voluntary BMP guidelines are designed to protect and preserve our water resources that enhance open space using current advances in golf turf management.

And if that’s not enough, turf specialist Frank Rossi, associate professor in the Horticulture Section, is restarting his weekly Cornell Turfgrass ShortCUTT podcast. In each podcast, Rossi takes a look at how the weather is affecting grass growth and management, and provides weekly news and advice for professionals in the lawn, golf and sports turf industry in New York State and surrounding areas.

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Measure to know!

How healthy is your soil? There’s only one way to find out:  Test it!

For farmers, gardeners, landscape managers and researchers who want to go beyond merely testing the nutrient levels of their soils, the Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health from Cornell University is just what you need.

Soil health management practices can regenerate soil structure, reduce weather-related risks and increase productive capacity in the long term. “There’s a growing recognition of the importance of improving soil health,” says Aaron Ristow, Cornell Soil Health Program Coordinator. “The Soil Health Assessment can help you determine specific soil constraints and point you to the practices that will help you overcome them”.

This year, the lab is offering expanded choices of the Soil Health Assessment that range from the Basic package to the Comprehensive Analysis of Soil Health – the gold standard of soil health testing.

Packages provide standardized, field-specific information on agronomically important constraints in biological and physical processes in addition to the typical nutrient analysis. The Standard and Comprehensive packages include tests of soil respiration, available water capacity, active carbon levels and soil aggregate stability, among others.

“Add-on” testing such as heavy metals, soluble salts and others are also available.

The assessment comes with a detailed report explaining the results and recommending both short- and long-term management strategies specific to the field’s constraints.  The assessment’s indicators and management strategies for improving soil health are also detailed in the Cornell Soil Health Assessment Training Manual, available free online.

For more information and to submit your soil for an assessment visit the Cornell Soil Health website or email the lab at



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nina-bassukx960Nina Bassuk, founder of Cornell University’s Urban Horticulture Institute, is the recipient of a 2015 Arbor Day Award in honor of her outstanding contribution to tree planting, conservation and stewardship, the Arbor Day Foundation announced today. She is a professor in the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS).

Now in her 34th year at Cornell, Bassuk will receive the Foundation’s Frederick Law Olmsted Award, which recognizes an outstanding individual who has had a positive impact on the environment due to lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation at a state or regional level.

Bassuk’s accomplishments include the development of bare root transplanting technology and CU-Structural Soil™ — a patented mix for urban environments engineered to provide rooting area for street trees while supporting pavement, decreasing tree mortality. Owing to her efforts, thousands of trees have been planted around the world in conditions that would not have otherwise supported trees.

Bassuk is also widely known for her innovative teaching, and recently received a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship for her efforts. Her two-course series Creating the Urban Eden not only incorporates plant walks around campus but also a cutting-edge Woody Plants Database website. Students in the course also design and install landscapes around campus. “She helps and challenges students to develop their own methods of learning,” one of them wrote.

Student Weekend Arborist Teams organized by Bassuk have inventoried street trees in more than 36 communities around New York to help municipalities better manage their urban forests.

On Arbor Day this year, Bassuk’s students will be hanging tags on trees around campus estimating their worth in terms of energy savings, increased property value, carbon sequestration, and other ecosystem services.

Bassuk is one of 13 individuals, organizations and companies being recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation during the annual Arbor Day Awards. This year’s ceremony will be held at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 25.

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group in woods and mushrooms on logFrom Steve Gabriel, Agroforestry Specialist, Cornell Small Farms Program:

Camp Mushroom #2
Sunday, June 7 from 10:00am to 4:00pm
Cornell Campus & MacDaniels Nut Grove
COST: $50 includes handouts and instruction

Due to the popular demand for our two-day Camp Mushroom (which is sold out for April session), we are offering an additional, one-day class which will cover the same cultivation methods as the original.

The main difference is we won’t be serving meals (bring your own lunch) or having the course at the Arnot Forest. We also will not be able to offer logs to take home. (Sorry.)

Participants will be trained in three methods of mushroom cultivation; shiitake on bolts, lions mane/oyster on totems, and stropharia in woodchip beds. In addition, laying yard and management considerations and economics of growing mushrooms as a small farm enterprise will be covered.

Anyone who wants to get into mushroom growing as a serious pursuit should not miss out on this opportunity to learn from experienced growers and researchers who will present for this event.

Register here. (You will need to do a separate form for each person)

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farming the woods coverThursday, March 26, 2015
Durland Alternatives Library
127 Anabel Taylor Hall
2 to 4 p.m.
Free and open to public

Steve Gabriel,  extension agroforestry specialist for the Cornell Small Farms Program and co-author of Farming the Woods, will be giving a short presentation followed by discussion at the Durland Alternatives Library.

This is part of a weekly event series called The Alternatives Cafe–connecting library materials to local interests. The cafe is a weekly opportunity for discussion, collaboration, and education. Coffee, tea, and light refreshments are available.

 More information.

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Lori Brewer

Last Friday, Horticulture Section Senior Extension Associate Lori Brewer joined a one-hour TwitterChat on gardening hosted by the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Brewer was part of a panel of experts from participating BHL member and affiliate institutions — including Smithsonian Gardens, Smithsonian Libraries, National Museum of Natural History, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Chicago Botanic Garden — who answered gardeners’ questions.

“We fired off 22 tweets in the hour, out of about 150 the entire group sent out,” says John Carberry, managing editor and social media officer for CALS Communications. “Our tweets Friday reached more than 20,000 people, and they’re still being retweeted.

“It was a bit crazy, but it definitely spread the word.,” he adds.

Check out the BHL Storify of the TwitterChat to get a feel for what transpired.

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