Archive for the “Research” Category

willow harvestLarry Smart is among the presenters at the Willow Biomass Energy Short Course, Nov. 18-19, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse N.Y.

The two-day conference includes classroom and field training in sustainable production and multiple end-uses of shrub willow for heat, power, & environmental benefits!

  • Discover exciting opportunities for rural development with willow biomass energy
  • See how willow is being applied to reduce environmental impacts
  • Learn the latest best practices and applied research for commercial willow crops and how this is improving returns on investment
  • Familiarize yourself with new financial analysis tools for willow biomass crops
  • Tour innovative demonstration projects on the SUNY ESF campus showcasing cutting-edge biomass conversion technologies
  • See willow harvesting equipment available through the NEWBio equipment access program ( in action at commercial willow operations and NEWBio demonstration site in northern New York.

Early registration discount deadline is Oct. 18

More information: Willow conference website.

Or  contact: or 315-470-6775.

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low_tunnel_strawberriesx450Friday, October 3, 2014
12:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Cornell Orchards, Ithaca, NY

Part 1 of the program will be held at Cornell Orchards, located on Route 366 in Ithaca across from the College of Veterinary Medicine parking lot. Part 2 of the program will be held at the East Ithaca Farm located just around the corner from Cornell Orchards on Maple Ave. A refreshment break will be provided between program sessions.

Topics include:

  • Low tunnels
  • Cranberries
  • Bird and spotted wing drosophila management
  • Biopesticides
  • Soil health
  • Trellising systems
  • Variety Q&A
  • And more.

The open house is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required to ensure adequate transportation, handouts, and refreshments. Please register by phone or e-mail by contacting Cathy Heidenreich,, 315-787-2367 no later than Friday, September 26 30, 2014.

Full program line-up and more information.

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If you missed today’s seminar, Case studies in forest farming, with Ken Mudge, it’s available online.

And don’t forget to pre-order his new book, Farming in the Woods.

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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.

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nyfvi logoThe New York Farm Viability Institute announced the award of $1 million in funding for 14 projects that aim to help farmers across the state improve their bottom line by reducing inputs, improving yields, testing new production practices, and fighting pests naturally.

One of the highlighted projects is Testing a Promising New Canopy Management Technique to Reduce Management Costs in Vineyards: A novel approach to pruning and vine management, successful in France, could save growers of Vinifera grapes in the Finger Lakes and Long Island grape regions up to $500 per acre.  But how will it affect vine size, fruit composition, wine quality, and production costs in New York?  That’s what Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel of Cornell University will receive $112,547 to find out.  It’s an important question, as economic analyses suggest that some Finger Lakes growers are losing up to $1,390 per acre per year.

Other projects of horticultural interest include:

View full list of funded projects.

The Institute also announced the opening of its 2015 competitive grants program. Application deadline is November 16, 2014. More information.

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happy folks at drinkwater lab

Why are these people so happy?

Come to our party and find out!

What: Drinkwater Lab Celebration
When: Tuesday, Sept. 23rd, 4:00
Where: Plant Science 147
Refreshments and cake will be served!

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Click on images for larger views.

Tower Rd bioswale planting

Tower Road bioswale planting

Thursday, students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/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.

The bioswale is designed to channel water runoff from Tower Road into the beds so that the water can infiltrate and recharge groundwater instead of going directly into storm drains and discharged ultimately into Cayuga Lake.

The shrubs were selected based on their ability to tolerate both saturated soil and intermittent dry conditions, as well as tolerance to road salt. That selection was guided by research conducted by former Graduate Field of Horticulture student Ethan Dropkin (MPS ’14).

“These are tough plants that can tolerate challenging conditions,” says Nina Bassuk, director of the Urban Horticulture Institute in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. “A lot of snow will pile up on them over the winter, and may damage some of them. But they are the kind of shrubs that you can cut back in spring and they’ll bounce right back.”

Dropkin’s publication, Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions) is available online at the Urban Horticulture Institute website.

Bassuk instructs students before planting.

Bassuk instructs students before planting.

Curb cuts channel runoff into into bioswale.

Curb cuts channel runoff into into bioswale.

The shrubs used are tolerant to road salt and intermittent flooding and dry soil conditions.

The shrubs used are tolerant to road salt and intermittent flooding and dry soil conditions.


Urban Eden class.

Urban Eden class.



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Kao-Kniffin in Landscape and IrrigationVia Michelle Sutton (MS Horticullture ’00), Editor, Taking Root, the blog of the New York State Urban Forestry Council:

Jenny Kao-Kniffin’s lab is featured in the September 2014 issue of the trade journal Landscape and Irrigation. (See page 22.)
In the article, Kao-Kniffin offers advice for how grounds people can manage turf in light of New York’s 2010 Child Safe Playing Fields Law, which restricts the use of conventional pesticides on K-12 school grounds, playing fields and daycare centers.

“Some contractors go overboard with adding fertilizers. This can result in extensive phosophorus application, whereas nitrogen should really be the focus when it comes to turf density in most sites,” she says.

The article also details research by horticulture PhD candidate Grant Thompson, who is comparing polycultures of turfgrass species with monocultures. “In the polycultures, we found some moderate increases in biomass and some moderate retention of nitrogen,” he says. He also found more diverse bacterial and fungal communities in the root zones of the polycultures.

On a related note, research at the Horticulture Section’s Urban Horticulture Institute was recently featured on the Taking Root blog, which has replaced the New York State Urban Forestry Council’s print newsletter.

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'Aromella' grapes

‘Aromella’ grapes

From Bruce Reisch:

The world’s first wine from our 2013 release, ‘Aromella’, is now available from Goose Watch Winery on Cayuga Lake.

‘Aromella’ is an aromatic, muscat white wine grape that ranks high for winter hardiness and productivity.

Read more about the 2013 naming and release of ‘Aromella’ and ‘Arandell ‘ –  the first grape released from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station’s “no-spray” vineyard – in the Cornell Chronicle.

Goose watch describes its Aromella wine as “an aromatic semi-dry white wine with distinctive characteristics unlike any other varietal in the Finger Lakes. It boasts some of the favored flavors from the Muscat grape used in the trending Moscato’s such as peaches and tropical fruits, but with less sweetness which is not typical for these flavors.”

Read Goose Watch’s press release.

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TSF funding helped support and earlier project comparing organic and integrated fruit production systems at Cornell Orchards.

TSF funding helped support an earlier project comparing organic and integrated fruit production systems at Cornell Orchards.

For more than 15 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.

In its first 10 years, TSF provided nearly $550,000 in funding for approximately 75 faculty and student projects that examine the technological, social, political, and economic elements of sustainable agriculture.

Projects funded for 2014 include research and outreach topics ranging from producing syrup from black walnut trees to organic fertilizer for hydrop0nic systems to urban soil remediation.

View full list of funded projects and contact information for each.

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