Extension and outreach
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.
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.”
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.
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.
The Horticulture Sections’s online Organic Gardening course is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.
The course runs May 8 to June 25, 2017, and covers one topic each week. (See course outline below.) With a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, we then explore tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.
Participants read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. Most students spend 3 to 4 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.
Questions? Please contact the instructor, Fiona Doherty: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Week 1:Introduction: What is Organic Gardening? Knowing Your Site.
- Week 2: Soil, Compost, and Mulch
- Week 3: Vegetables and Flowers: Site Design & Planning for the Season
- Week 4: Vegetables and Flowers: Early, Mid, Late Season Crops; Harvesting, Herbs
- Week 5: Maintenance & Managing Pests Organically
- Week 6: Trees, Shrubs, and Herbaceous Perennials: The Long-Term Landscape
- Optional Extra Readings: Advanced Topics for the Adventurous Gardener
Why are some apples mealy while others are crisp?
The differences are partly genetic, she explains. Some varieties can be stored longer before they get mushy.
But proper storage at home will help you keep your apples crisp. “If consumers store fruits at room temperature, rather than in the refrigerator, they will soften and get mealy sooner,” she says.
This February’s warm weather is nice in the Northeast, but apple farmers may pay a price if winter roars back. To help growers assess precarious temperatures in turbulent springs, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions has developed a new Apple Freeze Risk decision tool.
“I think the warm weather we’re seeing this week may push the apple trees into vulnerable stages,” said Art DeGaetano, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and director of Cornell’s Northeast Regional Climate Center.
From Juana Muñoz Ucros and Marie Zwetsloot, Graduate Field of Horticulture, Bauerle Lab
Tucked away in the western arm of the mighty Colombian Andes lies the Cauca coffee-growing region. A stunning mixture of Afrocolombians, indigenous people and Spanish descendants fuses together around the culture of artisanal coffee growing.
Without machinery and with very few inputs — but enormous amounts of creativity — these farmers optimize yield in plots usually less than 2 acres. And even in the face of unpredictable weather, they manage to put children through college, pay off their loans, and experiment with organic farming.
In January, we led a student learning and research trip to Cauca as part of the Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research Team (SMART) program of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD). We made use of a previously established relationship with a cooperative of coffee farmers, Federación Campesina de Cauca (FCC), by Miguel Gomez and his graduate students in Applied Economics and Management.
Our group consisted of students from different disciplines and included Shanti Kumar and Jenny Lee from International Agriculture and Rural Development, Sam Bosco from Horticulture, Lizzy Sweitzer Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, and Whit Knickerbocker from Agronomy and Agribusiness Management.
During our visit, the team visited both organic and conventional coffee farms with the aim to better understand the economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities that households from these different food production systems face. We interviewed the farmers about their management practices and took soil samples to evaluate pH and active carbon content of the soil. As an outcome, we left the FCC with a low-cost alternative to expensive lab soil tests that can inform them of soil health status and better direct their limited resources.
Full of pride and also of knowledge, the coffee producers showed the team around their farms and explained their philosophy and techniques. Even though communicating in Spanish wasn’t always easy, the producers were very patient in explaining their perspectives and sharing their experiences. Coffee farming is a tough living; stories of fluctuating coffee prices, health issues due to pesticide exposure and climate change were part of almost every conversation. The prospect of a peace deal finally put into action brings a smile to the farmer’s faces, but their reality is still one of political turmoil, government neglect, and ever present coffee leaf rust.
Besides the remarkable views of the endless mountains, one of the things that stood out was the hospitality and openness of the farmers. We were not allowed to leave the farm without having had at least one cup of sugary coffee, and a sampler of the tropical fruits grown by the family.
Seeing all of this with your own eyes makes you think hard about the coffee we drink every day.
To visit the project’s blog, follow this link: https://smartcolombia2017.wordpress.com/
American Vegetable Grower magazine turned to Thomas Bjorkman, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Intergrative Plant Science, to answer questions about Cornell Soil Health Laboratory’s Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health and the importance of knowing more than just your soil’s nutrient levels to produce healthy crops in two recent articles: