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New book helps researchers find innovative solutions to complex challenges

From USDA-SARE Program news release:

Laurie Drinkwater

Author Laurie Drinkwater, professor, Horticulture Section

As farmers and ranchers strive to maintain profitability, they face a multitude of pressures such as protecting water and air resources, conserving biodiversity and limiting soil erosion. Too often, however, single-faceted agricultural research fails to account for the complex links between critical environmental, social and economic factors.

The result? Piecemeal solutions to complex and interrelated problems. Now, SARE’s groundbreaking Systems Research for Agriculture, by Laurie Drinkwater, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, provides the theories and tools that researchers and producers need to design and implement interdisciplinary systems research projects that advance sustainable agroecosystems.

book coverFrom USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program news release:Systems Research for Agriculture is based on groundbreaking SARE-funded research trials that mimic an entire production system rather than substituting and comparing individual practices. Modifying research trials to fit local best farming practices allows systems-level changes in economic, social and environmental conditions to emerge and be better studied. While the model requires close collaboration between researchers and producers, it provides producers with practical insight into the on-farm adoption of new techniques.

Systems Research for Agriculture addresses the theoretical basis for agricultural systems research and provides a roadmap for building effective interdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder teams. This handbook is essential reading for researchers and producers working together to plan, conduct and analyze the complexities of multifaceted systems research experiments.

Systems Research for Agriculture is available as a free download at www.sare.org/Systems. Print copies can be ordered for $20 plus shipping and handling. Discounts are available for orders of 10 items or more.

Getting to the root of it: Predicting root biomass with electrical capacitance

Reposted from the SIPS blog Discovery that Connects:

Craig Carlson

Craig Carlson

For scientists, an understanding of root morphology is of tremendous importance for agricultural and biofuel crops alike. The measurement of the belowground traits of plants has become increasingly important because of the vital role that root biomass and architecture play in traits like drought tolerance and carbon sequestration. The ability to measure root biomass is useful in plant breeding programs, but is a daunting task that requires washing, filtering, drying, and weighing fine and intricate root tissues. Researchers have used electrical capacitance—the ability of an object to store an electrical charge—to measure root biomass, but this technique had only been shown to work in hydroponically grown plants and had not been extensively tested in soil-grown woody plants grown from cuttings.

As Craig Carlson, a PhD candidate at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, explains, “A majority of electroconductivity studies have focused on annual grasses and hydroponic systems. We wanted to develop a cheap, quick method of measuring root biomass in soils.” Carlson works with Dr. Larry Smart, leader of North America’s largest breeding program for shrub willow (Salix spp.), an important biofuel crop. One aspect of their breeding work requires growing up to 400 individual plants in separate pots, and an efficient method to quantify root biomass would allow for rapid selection of individuals with optimal traits to continue breeding. The alternative is to mechanically remove soil to measure root biomass, a method that is both destructive and extremely time consuming.

Despite being initially skeptical that the root electrical capacitance (REC) method would work in soil, Carlson was able to tweak the technique and demonstrate its efficacy in a paper published in a recent issue of Applications in Plant Sciences.

More information:

New publication: CU-Structural Soil® – A Comprehensive Guide

CU-Structural Soil® installation at Zuccotti Park, New York City

CU-Structural Soil® installation at Zuccotti Park, New York City

CU-Structural Soil® – A Comprehensive Guide is a new 56-page publication that covers the why’s and how’s of using CU-Structural Soil® to support trees, turf and porous pavement, and includes six case studies.

CU-Structural Soil® (also known as CU-Soil®) was developed at by Nina Bassuk, director of Cornell’s Urban Horticulture Institute, as a way to safely bear pavement loads after compaction and yet still allow root penetration and vigorous tree growth. It was patented and trademarked to insure quality control.

Read more about CU-Soil® at the Urban Horticulture Institute website.

 

 

Free iBooks will make your lawn ‘green’

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.

New publication: Apple IPM for Beginners

apple ipm coverApple IPM for Beginners is a new series of simplified factsheets and scouting guides that make integrated pest management easier for beginners.

Topics include:

  • Choosing Sprays
  • Apple Scab
  • Fire Blight
  • Powdery Mildew
  • Apple Rust Diseases
  • Summer Diseases
  • Plum Curculio
  • Worms in Fruit
  • Aphids and Leafhoppers
  • Mites
  • Trunk Borers

Deborah I. Breth, Cornell Cooperative Extension Lake Ontario Fruit Program edited the publication with contributions from CCE educators, growers and others.

You can download the free online version. Or to order hard copies, download and complete this form

2015 vegetable variety list for New York gardeners

What varieties will perform best in your garden?

What varieties will perform best in your garden?

Just in time for arrival of this year’s crop of seed catalogs, the 2015 edition of Selected List of Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners in New York State is now available online.

The varieties listed in this report should be well adapted for most home gardens in New York State, offer relatively high quality, be dependable, possess disease and insect resistance when possible, and have a relatively long harvest period.

There may be varieties not listed in the report that will perform satisfactorily in your garden, or even better under certain conditions. If you’d like to dive into a larger pool of varieties as you plan you garden, visit our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website for detailed descriptions and seed sources of more than 6,100 varieties. At the site, you can compare varieties, read ratings and reviews by fellow gardeners, and offer your own observations of which varieties perform best in your garden.

And if you’re looking for growing tips, check out our vegetable growing guides.

Best of luck with your 2015 growing season.

2014 processing vegetable variety reports

Processor and seed company representatives sample frozen peas at NYSAES ‘cuttng’.

Processor and seed company representatives sample frozen peas at NYSAES ‘cuttng’ November 6, 2015.

Jim Ballerstein, Research Support Specialist for Steve Reiners’ vegetable research program has released this year’s processing vegetable variety reports.

In November, more than 40 people attended Ballerstein’s cutting at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, N.Y. to sample 168 varieties of frozen and canned vegetables taste for themselves how the corn, peas and beans performed.

Find previous years’ reports and more information on Reiner’s research page.

2014 cut flower trial report

Lisianthus planting in the high tunnel, Snapdragon trial in late May, harvesting the Ammi field trial, Eucomis in high tunnel.

Lisianthus planting in the high tunnel, Snapdragon trial in late May, harvesting the Ammi field trial, Eucomis in high tunnel. Click image for larger view.

Chris Wien’s 2014 cut flower cultural practice studies and variety trials report is now available online. This year’s research includes:

  • Anemone/Ranunculus trial
  • Sunflower photoperiod reaction
  • Defoliation of peppers with ethephon
  • Lisianthus spacing and topping
  • Celosia comb deformation
  • Snapdragon overwintering high tunnels
  • Delphinium longevity

Wien also reports on variety trials of:

  • Ornamental peppers
  • Ornamental Alliums
  •  Ammi
  • Celosia
  • Cosmos
  • Delphinium
  • Eucomis
  • Filler species: Bupleurum, Euphorbia, Gypsophilum, Eucalyptus, Atriplex
  • Gladioli
  • Poppies
  • Ornamental Cabbage

To see previous years’ reports, visit Wien’s research page.

Forest farming book available for pre-order

Farming the Woods coverFarming the Woods, by Ken Mudge, associate professor, Horticulture Section, and program aide Steve Gabriel, is now available for pre-order. Official release is slated for October 9, 2014.

The 360-page book will help you learn how to fill forests with food by viewing agriculture from a remarkably different perspective: that you can maintain a healthy forest while growing a wide range of food, medicinals, and other non-timber products.

The authors demonstrate that forest farms can be most productive in places where annual cropping is not: on steep slopes and in shallow soils. They detail how forest farmingcan be integrated into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

Farming the Woods covers how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Along with profiles of forest farmers from around the country, the book provides comprehensive information on:

  • Historical perspectives of forest farming.
  • Mimicking the forest in a changing climate.
  • Cultivation of medicinal crops.
  • Cultivation of food crops.
  • Creating a forest nursery.
  • Harvesting and using wood products.
  • The role of animals in the forest farm.
  • How to design your forest farm and manage it once
    it’s established.

Read more about the book.

Mudge will present a Horticulture Section seminar Case studies in forest farming Monday, September 22, 2014 at 12:20 p.m. in 404 Plant Science Building.

New fact sheet: Sustainable Pest Management in Greenhouses and High Tunnels

factsheet coverFrom the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program:

Having trouble with pests in your greenhouses and high tunnels? Interested in learning more about using biological control to manage them? Read SARE’s new fact sheet, Sustainable Pest Management in Greenhouses and High Tunnels, to learn how beneficial insects can protect crops in season-extending structures and enhance the sustainability of your operation.

SARE-funded researchers at Cornell University found that with a combination of controls, greenhouse and high tunnel pests could be managed effectively and, in some cases, eradicated.

Highlights of 23 New York case studies include the development of an effective combination of parasitic wasps (Aphidius colemani and Aphidius ervi) to eradicate an aphid infestation on winter greens and peppers. And predatory mites (Amblyeius cucumeris) used in conjunction with minute pirate bugs (Orius insidiosus) helped eradicate thrips on cucumbers. Researchers also found that the two-spotted spider mite was effectively managed by applying a parasitic mite (Phytoseiulus persimilis) on eggplant and strawberries. The Nile Delta wasp (Encarsia formosa) helped manage, and in some instances, even eradicate whiteflies on tomatoes.

The fact sheet includes an introduction to biological control, along with colorful photos that can be used to identify pests and their associated crop damage. It also provides specific how-to information on scouting for pests along with detailed release information, including optimal temperature, quantity of natural enemies and timing of release relative to pest populations. Management strategies for control agents, such as predatory mites and parasitic wasps, and a supply list for obtaining biological control agents are also found in the fact sheet.

Download the fact sheet now.

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