Abby Seaman presents Steve McKay with an Excellence in IPM award.
Neither Rain nor Mud nor (Etc.) Earns IPM Award for Cornell Farm Manager by Mary Woodsen, NYSIPM program.
Three days after Tropical Storm Lee blew through the Northeast in early September 2011, turning streams into rivers, then lakes, getting a tractor into the waterlogged research plots at Cornell University’s Thompson Research Farm was an obvious no-go. So farm manager Steve McKay slipped on a backpack sprayer and slogged through the muddy fields bordering Fall Creek.
McKay was helping test a new “decision support system,” which predicts if or when growers need to spray to protect crops from late blight, a deadly plant diseases. McKay’s team supports research to help growers use softer fungicides and only as a last resort—a principle that’s key to IPM, or integrated pest management.
And the next day—a Saturday—he was back again in the cab of a backhoe, digging temporary drainage ditches to salvage what he could of the experiment.
Now for his dedication, expertise, and leadership, McKay has earned an Excellence in IPM Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, which seeks least-toxic solutions to pest problems, including plant diseases.
“Working with Steve is an absolute delight,” says William Fry, professor of plant pathology at Cornell University, noting that McKay is indispensable in evaluating late-blight forecasting systems. “With his help, we’ve got data on late-blight resistance in nearly 100 potato and tomato cultivars.”
McKay manages 70-plus acres of trials for as many as 15 different scientists on 15 to 20 different crops, say horticulture professors Robin Bellinder and Don Halseth. McKay does “an astounding job of caring for our research trials,” they say. “We can’t think of a better person to receive the Excellence in IPM award.”
McKay receives his award on February 11 at Cornell’s Horticulture Seminar Series.
McKay teaches vegetable production class about the inner workings of a planter.
When Susan & Tom Palomaki started Lucas Greenhouses in 2005, they didn’t want to be tied to routine spray schedules. So they hired Debbie Palumbo-Sanders to help them find a better, gentler way to cope with pests. We caught up with Susan and Debbie at the 2012 Cornell Floriculture Field day after they accepted their Excellence in IPM award from the New York State IPM program.
GENEVA, NY: Susan and Tom Palomaki knew that greenhouses provide perfect moisture and warmth, not just for plants, but for pests. But in 2005 when they bought Lucas Greenhouses in Fairport, NY, with over a million plants under one roof, they didn’t want to be tied to the weekly spray routines commonly used to combat greenhouse pests.
The Palomaki’s first priority—finding a better, gentler way to cope with pests. Which led to their first permanent new hire—Debbie Palumbo-Sanders.
Palumbo-Sanders’s background in plant pathology and plant science, coupled with her enthusiasm and curiosity, made her a natural for the job. Plus: she knew the core principles of integrated pest management (IPM) and was eager to learn more. Now the Lucas Greenhouses team has received an Excellence in IPM award for their leadership in promoting IPM to greenhouse growers statewide as well as to their customers.
Among the IPM tactics well-suited to greenhouses is biocontrol. Because greenhouse conditions are ideal for them, too, these predatory insects or pathogens can really wallop pests. But although IPM growers can cut way back on the time and money spent spraying greenhouses, says NYS IPM educator Brian Eshenaur, working with tiny, sometimes microscopic living critters involves a learning curve.
Lucas Greenhouses has become a major player in the mentoring circuit. They help the large wholesale growers who supply them—and even other retailers—get a handle on the sometimes-tricky tactics it takes to succeed at biocontrol.
“We definitely see the ripple effect,” says Tom Palomaki. “Suppliers are sending us cuttings they’ve grown using biocontrols.” Which means many other retailers are getting the same high-quality, low-impact cuttings too.
“That’s what’s so wonderful about these folks,” says Eshenaur. “They go out of their way to help other growers learn how to keep those biocontrols healthy and productive.”
And if you’re a Lucas customer, Eshenaur says, you can’t miss the colorful banners hanging in the center aisle, explaining what IPM is and why it’s so important for plants and people too. “When garden clubs come through for tours we can just see the light bulbs come on,” says Palomaki.
“Some growers are hesitant to explain about biocontrols because then their customers know there are bugs, good and bad, at that greenhouse,” Eshenaur says. “But when I’m out there what I see is healthy, vigorous plants. It’s a case of what you see is what you get, in the very best sense.”
The NYS IPM Program is excited to announce 3 professional job openings.
These appointments are for 6-9 months. However, there is potential for extension into long term positions. A Masters or PhD degree in entomology, plant pathology, horticulture, natural resources or a closely related field is required. These positions are being announced in June 2012, and will be filled as soon as suitable candidates are found. If interested in multiple positions, please indicate in the cover letter.
GENEVA, N.Y. — Abby Seaman, a vegetable crops specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program at Cornell University, has been named the Program’s vegetable IPM coordinator. Seaman, a nationally recognized authority, is widely known to New York growers for her real-time alerts on potentially devastating disease and insect pests in their areas. These alerts help them cope with pests with least-toxic methods.
“Abby Seaman has worked extensively with farmers to implement biological control of insect pests,” says Don Rutz, director of the New York State IPM Program. “She is also a well-known pest information resource for organic farmers.”
Seaman, previously the Program’s vegetable IPM educator, brings nearly two decades of expertise in pest management to the position. Over that time she has provided hundreds of workshops training thousands of growers in IPM techniques—scouting, thresholds, biological control, and more—to help them prevent and manage insect, disease, and weed pests.
Seaman is a graduate of Cornell University with an M.S. in entomology. She replaces Curt Petzoldt, the Program’s vegetable coordinator since 1985. “Abby’s vast experience in New York vegetable production will provide a seamless transition,” says Rutz.
Integrated pest management brings together a suite of tactics that help protect the environment—and their bottom line. To learn more about IPM, go to www.nysipm.cornell.edu.
Rossi (second from left) accepts 'Excellence in IPM' award from NYSIPM Program staff on April 25.
Associate professor and turf specialist Frank Rossi is featured in an April 28 article in the New York Times (New Art at Lincoln Center: Lawn Care) telling the story of the 7,203-square-foot lawn constructed on top of a restaurant on the north plaza.
The lawn was forced to close just two weeks after opening last June because of irrigation problems, but reopened a week later and stayed open until November.
“‘These are glitches you get on any project,’ said Frank S. Rossi, a turf grass scientist and associate professor in Cornell University’s horticulture department, who was Lincoln Center’s lawn guru and has been a consultant for the Yankees’ ballfields. ‘Ninety-five percent of the lawn is not differently managed than any lawn in the Hamptons or Scarsdale.’” The lawn is scheduled to reopen May 11.
The architects tested and selected a mix of tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass to stand up to the heavy traffic.
“Mr. Rossi said the grass was also selected because it can withstand the ‘heat island effect,’ caused by the surrounding concrete and glass, and requires less water, fertilizer and pesticide than regular lawns.
“‘If you pick the right grass from the start on your lawn, you inherently have to do less to it,’ he said. ‘So homeowners should take heed to the time and effort we took to getting the right grass. It all starts with getting the right grass.’”
The N.Y. State Integrated Pest Management ornamentals team is presenting three hands-on workshops for greenhouse and nursery producers this winter. Each has three modules taught by Cornell and NYS IPM faculty – with microscopes, meters, and a chance to bring in your own samples for identification. DEC pesticide recertification and CNLP credits are available.
January 21, 12:30-4pm – Monroe County
ABC’s of Aphids
Media Matters: Soilless Substrates
Nematodes in the Greenhouse and Nursery
Contact: Walt Nelson, CCE-Monroe County at 585-461-1000 ext. 268 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CALS helps Big Red go green with a building competition – On Campus Sustainability Day, Oct. 20, CALS will launch CALS Green, an energy conservation and sustainability initiative to promote environmentally conscientious behavior among students, faculty and staff. The college hopes to reduce its energy consumption by 2-5 percent, through lots of little changes and a bit of friendly competition. The one-year pilot program includes six buildings: Comstock, Bradfield, Morrison and Wing halls, as well as the Plant Science Building and Geneva’s Barton Lab.