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Congratulations Bridget and Jackie!

bridget and jackie with Dean Boor

Community members from across the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences gathered with friends and family Nov. 5 to celebrate the 15th annual Research, Extension and Staff Awards. The awards observe important and far-reaching achievements of CALS faculty and staff, who are nominated for continuously surpassing expectations and making significant, unique contributions to the college.

Two Horticulture Section staffers were among those honored, Jackie Nock and Bridget Cristelli. (Bridget recently departed the section to take a graduate student coordinator position at the Dyson School.)

“I am awestruck by the important and far-reaching achievements of our colleagues across the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” said Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS. “Tonight’s honorees contribute to the life-changing work of CALS. Their research and extension activities epitomize the Land Grant mission of Cornell CALS — which is to be fundamentally invested in improving the lives of people, their environments and their communities in New York and around the world.

Read more about why Jackie and Bridget were honored.

Other familiar faces to the Horticulture Section were also honored: Christy Hoepting, Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Agriculture Team,  Sarah Pethybridge, assistant professor in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, and Tara Reed, School of Integrative Plant Science.

 

Hortus Forum prepares for annual Poinsettia Sale

Reposted from the SIPS blog, Discovery that Connects:

Hortus Forum members at the 2017 Poinsettia Sale

Hortus Forum members at the 2017 Poinsettia Sale

The trees may still be showing fall color, but Hortus Forum is busy getting ready for the winter holiday.  A subset of the club’s members are growing over 500 poinsettias in 16 different varieties ranging from “Christmas Feelings Merlot” to “Whitestar” and “Venus Hot Pink”. Pre-order yours today and select from one of these beautiful varieties!

Hortus Forum’s mission is to provide a welcoming community for all plant enthusiasts and cultivate an appreciation for plants and horticulture in the broader Cornell community through sales and hands-on experience with horticulture. All profits from our annual Poinsettia Sale will go towards paying for greenhouse space and funding club activities that provide members with the opportunity to explore the world of horticulture.

8,000 bulbs planted in 11 minutes

bulb planter and class

Students in Bill Miller’s Annual and Perennial Plant Identification and Use class (PLHRT 3000) got a lesson in efficient bulb planting October 30. Using a tractor-drawn bulb planter imported from The Netherlands that slices open the sod, drops in the bulbs and then replaces the sod over them, they planted more than 8,000 bulbs in less than 11 minutes.

That’s a strip more than 200 feet long and 3 feet wide along the edge of Caldwell Field near the McConville Barn. The “naturalized” planting of daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocuses, scilla, muscari and chionodoxa bulbs will push up through the turf before the grass begins to grow in spring.

Based on the class’s experiences planting bulbs by hand earlier this semester, Miller estimates that it would have taken the students more than a week to accomplish this task using hand tools. He tested out the planter last fall planting 30,000 bulbs into sod strips totaling more than 2,000 feet at the Cornell Botanic Gardens (view video) and the NYSIP Foundation Seed Barn.

“This machine greatly reduces the labor required to establish naturalized bulb plantings,” says Miller, a professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and director of Cornell’s Flower Bulb Research Program, who was aided by CUAES field assistant Jonathan Mosher.

“Some people might be concerned about the lack of precise placement of the bulbs,” notes Miller. “But actually most bulbs are forgiving about how deep they are planted, despite what you might see on the labels. They also do fine if not planted right side up.”

Miller hopes that planters like this might catch on with commercial landscapers and municipalities and result in more naturalized bulb plantings.  A benefit of this approach can be less mowing of turf areas due to the need to let the bulb foliage die back naturally.  In such areas, landscapers could substantially reduce carbon emissions from maintenance activity leading to a more sustainable landscape, Miller says.

Toward Sustainability Foundation grant deadline is Dec. 3

Hannah Swegarden was one of the investigators for the 2018 TSF-funded project, Connecting Consumer Acceptability and Farm Productivity to Improve Collard Varieties for East African Growers.

Hannah Swegarden was one of the investigators for the 2018 TSF-funded project, Connecting Consumer Acceptability and Farm Productivity to Improve Collard Varieties for East African Growers.

For more nearly 20 years, CALS has bolstered its sustainability research with a steady stream of gifts from the Toward Sustainability Foundation (TSF), a Massachusetts-based organization founded by an anonymous, eco-minded Cornell alumna.

Since 1999, TSF provided more than $1.5 million in funding for more than 100 faculty and student projects that examine the technological, social, political, and economic elements of sustainable agriculture.

The deadline for proposals for the 2019 round of funding is December 3, 2018

Read more about TSF grants, download the full Request for Proposals, and view titles and contacts of recent projects.

Growing the World’s Food in Greenhouses

Neil Mattson

Cornell Research website:

Neil Mattson, School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture Section, spent his childhood on a farm with flower and vegetable gardens. “If you know how to grow your own food, you’ll never go hungry,” Mattson recalls his grandmother, who grew up during the Great Depression, saying. “That ethos has carried with me.” And it has carried into his research projects, which aim to better understand controlled environment agriculture (CEA)—the cultivation of crops in controlled environments such as greenhouses, plant factories, or vertical farms.

Mattson is particularly interested in CEA. He says, “It integrates technology and agriculture and enables year-round production of high quality products.” For example, one can produce 20 to 50 times more lettuce per acre in a greenhouse than in a field in California.

Even so, there are challenges and drawbacks to growing crops in controlled environments, including the amount of energy and labor costs required. Given the challenges, one of the main questions driving Mattson’s work is essential: Is it realistic and economically viable to scale up CEA to feed the masses? “I’m trying to understand the pros and cons of this higher tech production system and want to understand its constraints and improve upon the constraints,” Mattson says.

Read the whole article.

 

Botanic Gardens’ Detrick, M.P.S. ’16, connects people and plants

Emily Detrick, a horticulturist at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, uses the Pounder Vegetable Garden to teach students in Marcia Eames-Sheavly's Seed to Supper class.  Simon Wheeler/Brand Communications

Cornell Chronicle [2018-10-04]

With a background in fine arts and experience working in museums and galleries, Emily Detrick, M.P.S. ’16, has always been interested in curation – the documentation and care of collections.

Now a horticulturist at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, Detrick continues to curate collections. But now those collections are beds of live plants, and she spends her days connecting people with them.

“A botanic garden is a museum full of living collections,” Detrick says. “By definition, botanic gardens are public-facing in their orientation, providing a gateway to the natural world, helping people to understand what’s all around them and the importance of plants in our lives.”

Citing the Botanic Gardens’ new mission, Detrick said her role is to inspire people – through cultivation, conservation and education – to “understand, appreciate and nurture plants and the cultures they sustain.”

Read the whole article.

Art of Horticulture students create sod sofa

sod sofa

In an annual fall traditon, students in the Art of Horticulture (PLHRT 2010) constructed a sod sofa at Cornell Botanic Gardens adjacent to the Nevin Center, October 2.

Under the guidance of instructor Emily Detrick and turf specialist Frank Rossi, associate professor and turf specialist in the Horticulture Section of the  they shaped a mix of soil and compost to form comfortable spots to sit, then covered the foundation with rolls of sod.

The sofa needs a few days to firm up, dry out and root.  So if you visit, please observe the signage signalling whether or not it’s ready for you to try out.

You can watch the process in this time lapse video:

Cornell’s new Sustainable Landscapes Trail opens Oct. 5

Cornell Chronicle [2018-10-02]:

Lace up your walking shoes and head to Cornell’s new Sustainable Landscapes Trail, which will open with a ceremony Friday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m., at the newly refurbished Peterson parking lot across from Stocking Hall and the Dairy Bar on Tower Road.

In lieu of a ribbon-cutting, officials will offer a celebratory “downpour” of water on the sustainable, permeable asphalt. Afterward, Nina Bassuk, professor of plant science, will lead a tour of the Sustainable Landscapes Trail.

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHORT/LA 4910) plant trees and shrubs in the Peterson Lot bioswale.

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHORT/LA 4910) plant trees and shrubs in the Peterson Lot bioswale.

Stretching from the Libe Slope Meadow to the Botanic Gardens’ Native Lawn, the trail features 20 stops that show how design, construction and the management of campus grounds can enhance and promote healthy landscape ecosystems.

The Peterson green parking lot was constructed this summer as a state-of-the-art example of green infrastructure and is the latest project to join the trail. It was designed by landscape architecture students and Cornell staff to demonstrate an alternative to traditional impervious parking lots and the resulting storm water runoff.

As a cause of water pollution, runoff from impervious roads and parking lots collect oil, sediment and other pollutants – and carries this material into waterways.

Green infrastructure practices will turn this parking lot into a natural landscape by capturing rainwater where it falls, filtering out pollutants and reducing large volumes of runoff, said David Cutter, Cornell’s campus landscape architect.

The Peterson lot’s porous pavement allows storm water to drain into a stone reservoir below the lot’s surface, while CU-Structural Soil along the lot’s central bioswale (a landscape element designed to remove pollution) allows the roots of bushes and trees to succeed under paved surfaces.

The parking lot is expected to be certified by both SITES, an initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council to certify sustainable land design and development, and by Parksmart, a rating system for green parking structures.

Other highlights of the trail include Fernow Hall’s rain garden and green roof; a green roof consists of a shallow layer of light-weight soil and plants that filter runoff. Fernow Hall’s rain garden diverts storm water from paved areas and roofs and channels it into the ground using a well-draining soil that helps to prevent polluted water from flowing directly to streams and lakes.

The trail also includes Mann Library’s entrance garden and green roof, the Ag Quad biodetention basins, which control pollution, and the Tower Road bioswale, which filters polluted water runoff with carefully selected plants growing in engineered soil and it provides a habitat for insects and pollinators.

The trail is a living laboratory for open spaces, natural areas and landscapes with unique sustainability features. On the trail, see the Rice Hall bioswale that undergraduate students built by using a technique called “scoop and dump” during a project in the “Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design and Landscape Establishment,” taught by Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge, professor of landscape architecture.

The Sustainable Landscapes Trail was developed by the Land Team of the President’s Sustainability Campus Committee. It fulfills a goal in Cornell’s Climate Action Plan, by demonstrating best practices in sustainable landscape planning, design and management, according to Sarah Brylinsky, Cornell’s sustainability communications manager.

Pumpkin-picking advice from Steve Reiners

Steve Reiners

Steve Reiners

Due to the ideal growing conditions in New York state, the pumpkin crop is early this year and consumers should act fast when picking says Steve Reiners, professor and chair of the Horticulture Section in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and a New York state vegetable industry expert. Reiners shares advice on how to pick the perfect pumpkin that should last through the Halloween season if left uncarved:

  • “Warm temperatures and abundant sun have resulted in some crops like pumpkins arriving earlier at farm stands.
  • “People should not wait too long to purchase their pumpkin this year. Even though New York yields are fantastic, other states will be looking to purchase our pumpkins. In most of the Carolinas for example, much of the crop has rotted from water soaked fields.
  • “When choosing your pumpkin, look for one with a sturdy, hard stem with no soft spots on the fruit. You can buy ones that still show a little green as they will continue to ripen on your porch. A good pumpkin bought today should easily last until Halloween, if not Thanksgiving. If you plan to cut them for Jack-o-Lanterns, wait until a few days before Halloween. Once you carve them, they will only last about seven days.”

Landscape professionals learn about bioswale benefits

Tower Rd bioswale planting
Above: Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHRT/LA 4910/4920) planted more than 1,000 feet of beds along Tower Road from Plant Science Building to Stocking Hall with nearly 1,000 woody shrubs in September 2014.

Nearly 50 landscape architects, environmentalists, educators and others visited Cornell September 17 to learn about the ecosystem benefits of bioswales and tour the runoff-filtering structures on campus.

Bioswales channel water from streets and parking lots into areas where the water can infiltrate into the groundwater instead of entering storm drains and waterways. In the process, they keep sediment and other pollutants out of streams and lakes, reduce flooding and prevent streambank erosion.

They can also provide aesthetic benefits, habitat for pollinators and other ecosystem services, says Nina Bassuk, director of the Urban Horticulture Institute in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, who led the program along with Peter Trowbridge, Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects and retired professor from the Department of Landscape Architecture.

Bassuk’s work has focused on the ‘bio’ aspects of bioswales, researching which plants are best-suited for the tough conditions they face. “We’re testing plants that can tolerate both saturated soil and periodic drought,” says Bassuk. “They also need to be able tolerate salty soil and bounce back from damage when snow and ice are piled over them during winter.” Woody shrubs that can be cut back to the ground and regrow quickly in spring are especially good candidates.

The landscape professionals saw many of those plants in three bioswales they toured while on campus, including northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), shining sumac (Rhus coppalina), creeping willow  (Salix repens), seaberry (Hippophae rhamnoides), ) buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and others.

Those three bioswales – the quarter-mile-long Tower Road bioswale, the Rice Bowl bioswales adjacent to the parking lot next to Rice Hall, and the Cornell Botanic Garden bioswale next to the Nevin Welcome Center parking lot – are featured on the new Sustainable Landscapes Trail developed by the Land Team of the President’s Campus Sustainability Committee.

For more information on bioswales, download Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices at the Urban Horticulture Institute website.


Above: Nina Bassuk explains bioswale plant selection to landscape professionals touring the Tower Road bioswale.

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