Archive for the “Research” Category
By Stacey Shackford.
crossposted from CALS Notes.
Before he became a world-renowned expert in pomology and viticulture, he was a taxi driver in New York City, a trolley coach conductor in San Francisco, and a Neruda translator exploring Latin America from the back of a motorcycle, all of his worldly possessions packed in one saddle bag.
Ian Merwin has a colorful history, one he has happily shared with students in the 23 years he has been teaching at Cornell. Many of them gathered at Cornell Orchards on May 10, alongside more than 100 colleagues and friends, to hear him recount the tales one more time as he presented a final lecture to commemorate his retirement.
“What will you do when you graduate? It doesn’t really matter,” Merwin said. “It’s all interesting. You learn something from each one.”
Read the whole post.
View Carol Grove’s Picasa album, Happy Retirement Ian.
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On National Public Radio’s Morning Edition this morning:
Researchers Don’t ‘Wine’ About The Cold, Their Grapes Thrive
A dozen universities are collaborating on a sort of extreme winemaking project: How cold a climate can a grape survive and still make good wine? The Northern Grapes Project is inventing wines the world has never seen before, winning wine awards and creating a new crop for struggling rural economies.
Senior Extension Associate Tim Martinson (right) is featured.
See also transcript and photos at North Country Public Radio.
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From Cornell Chronicle article by Blaine Friedlander 2013-05-14:
Semagn-Asredie Kolech, left-center, doctoral candidate in horticulture, poses with a group of Ethiopian farmers after surveying their practices.
With unpredictable annual rainfall and drought once every five years, climate change presents challenges to feeding Ethiopia. Adapting to a warming world, the potato is becoming a more important crop there – with the potential to feed much of Africa.
Semagn-Asredie Kolech, a Cornell doctoral candidate in the field of horticulture, studies the potato and bridges the tradition of Ethiopian farming with the modernity of agricultural science.
He shuttles between Ethiopia and Ithaca to examine and research efficient agricultural practices in the shadow of climate change. “The potato is a good strategy crop for global warming. It has a short growing season, it offers higher yields, it’s less susceptible to hail damage, and you can grow 40 tons per hectare. With wheat and corn, you don’t get more than 10 tons a hectare,” Kolech says.
Read the whole article.
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New tool helps farmers nip nitrogen losses
Farmers Robert and Rodney Donald review the Adapt-N tool with Cornell extension associate Bianca Moebius-Clune. They saved thousands of dollars after applying Adapt-N recommendations during a trial at their Moravia farm.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-05-13] – The free Web-based tool, Adapt-N
, draws on local soil, crop and weather data – including high resolution climate data stored at the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell – to provide better estimates of nitrogen fertilizer needs for corn (including sweet corn), in real time, throughout the season. Adapt-N was chosen as AgProfessional’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Top Product of the Year, taking 52 percent of the vote and being the first product developed by a university to receive the award. In addition to reducing farmers fertilizer costs and nitrogen pollution, the tool can also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizer use rival the global warming impact of the entire U.S. aviation industry.
Adding veggies to your diet helps cut global warming [Cornell Chronicle 2013-05-09] – If the carnivorous U.S. population – as a whole – ate a more-vegetarian diet that included egg and milk products, the environment would be greatly relieved, says a preliminary Cornell study by life-cycle engineer Christine Costello, a postdoctoral researcher in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology. Collaborators in the project funded by Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future included Ian Merwin and Laurie Drinkwater.
High marks on the ground, in the stars [Cornell Chronicle Essentials blog 2013-05-08] - Cornell ranks No. 3 in the world in agriculture and forestry, according to the 2013 QS World University Rankings by subject. QS evaluated 2,858 universities, ranked 678 institutions, analyzed 68 million citations and verified 8,391 programs.
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Geneva greenhouses to get $4.7 million upgrade
Renderings of the greenhouses to be reconstructed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Image: O’Brien & Gere.
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-26] – Agricultural research at Cornell will get a big boost, thanks to a $4.7 million investment in greenhouses at the university’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y. The two-year project, funded by money released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will reconstruct 21,000 square feet of greenhouses at NYSAES, which were built during the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. Construction is expected to begin in May 2013 and will transform the greenhouses into much-needed, state-of-the-art facilities.
The Scientist: Prof. Susheng Gan Studies Plant Longevity [Cornell Daily Sun 2013-04-24] – Profile of Susheng Gan’s senescence research: “If the whole senescence process is a drama,” Gan said. “What we are doing is to find the director of the drama, the master regulator gene, from whom we learn quickly how the drama works.”
Season-long leaf testing improves crop profitability [Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-23] – Regularly testing leaf tissue for nutrient levels may significantly enhance the profitability of New York vegetable crops, say Cornell researchers. “Hungry” crops are a common sight in vegetable fields and high tunnels across New York state, says Stephen Reiners, Cornell professor of horticulture and the project leader of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program’s vegetable fertility project.
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Faculty stir up solutions at climate change forum [Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-02] – About 100 professors, graduate students and researchers affiliated with the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future gathered March 28 to exchanged ideas about projects and studies in energy, the environment and economic development in the era of climate change. “It was a great array of faculty and graduate students from fields ranging from the physical and natural sciences to economics and the humanities,” said David Wolfe (right), professor of horticulture and a conference organizer. “The creative energy in the room was almost palpable. I think this is what happens when we hear surprising and mind-opening perspectives from those in very different disciplines. Exciting ideas for future collaboration across these disciplines came forward.” … In addition to pitches, horticulture graduate students presented posters on current research. … Sonam Sherpa showed new approaches to soil carbon mapping and Semagn Kolech demonstrated potato variety resilience to drought being studied in Ethiopia.
Disease-resistant tomatoes fight lethal pests [Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-02] – In the battle against thrips, Cornell breeder Martha Mutschler-Chu has developed a new weapon: a tomato that packs a powerful one-two punch to deter the pests and counter the killer viruses they transmit.
Model Behavior [periodiCALS Spring 2013, Arabidopsis thaliana, page 17] – Susheng Gan (right), associate professor of horticulture, is interested in how leaves are programmed to die. Since their main function is photosynthesis, the longer leaves stay green, the more sugars and other nutrients the plant can synthesize to fill seeds, store as biomass, or help root nodules live longer to fix more nitrogen in the soil. Using arabidopsis strains lacking certain genes, Gan identified several genes that regulate senescence, or leaf yellowing. Disabling one of these genes in soybeans increased leaf longevity by more than one week, resulting in a 44 percent increase in seed yield and significantly increased soil sustainability
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Melissa Kitchen, research support specialist in the Flower Bulb Research Program, tends tulips and narcissus at the Kenneth Post Lab greenhouses in this image from the March 26 Picture Cornell feature from University Photography.
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Farmers harnessing wind to save apples [Albany Times Union 2013-03-25] – “After last year’s crippling frost, dozens of orchards around the state started investing in the machines. Terrence Robinson (right), an applied fruit crop physiologist at Cornell University, estimated that the number of wind machines in the state likely doubled between 2012 and 2013. The 2012 frost prompted Cornell to conduct a study of the machines’ effectiveness. The study found that farms that already utilized the machines fared much better during the frost. ‘The most viable means of frost protection seems to be these wind machines,’ said Robinson. He said that the university recently worked to encourage farmers to think about methods for protecting against frost, rather than simply relying on crop insurance to make up for losses in years that crops fail. ‘A lot of growers have taken up our advice and run with it,’ he said.”
From mushrooms to dandelions, foraged food finds way to U.S. tables [cnbc.com 2013-03-23] – “Cornell University ecologist Antonio DiTommaso said he was encouraged by the growing interest in eating wild plants and thinks the trend could affect which crops are grown. He no longer buys lettuce in the summer, he said, choosing instead to eat a mixture of plants from his yard in upstate New York. He wondered how far the movement could go in supplanting traditional agriculture. ‘It might have been okay 10,000 years ago,’ said DiTommaso, an assistant professor in the crop and soil sciences department. ‘If we get all of New York City running through our fields in upstate New York, I don’t know that there would be much left.’”
Compost helps restore soil in arid region of China [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-25] – “Parched land in China has prompted Cornell environmental experts to come up with a simple solution to restore soils in arid areas, using wood chips and compost. Led by Rebecca Schneider, associate professor of natural resources, researchers have shown that a method they developed to restore agricultural land by adding components into the upper soil layer, and collecting and retaining water to make the most of meager rainfall supplies can also contribute to soil fertility and carbon sequestration.”
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Agricultural research continues funding scramble [Southeast Farm Press 2013-03-19] – The March 1 federal budget sequester further jeopardizes gains made in research programs, says Michael Mazourek, an assistant professor in Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics. Mazourek tells a story that he insists could be told by agriculture professors and researchers across the country. “I’m a vegetable breeder and have new varieties that end up in seed catalogs. We also do the initial ‘rough draft’ of germplasm that goes to the seed companies and they take that to the finished cultivar. In addition, we do a lot of genome metabolite nutrition research. … To get everything done, I’ve invested a lot in recruiting a dedicated staff. They’re key to everything we do. So, I spend a lot of time trying to make payroll, keep enough grants coming in to fund the research and keep momentum going.”
A New Height Control Possibility for Daffodils and Hyacinths [Greenhouse Product News ] – New drench technique shows promising results keeping forced narcissus and hyacinth from growing too tall, according to studies by Bill Miller, Neil Mattson and others.
Melissa Kitchen reflects on her past year as an EA member [Pawprint 2013-03-21] – Research support specialist Melissa Kitchen serves on the Employee Assembly’s Education Committee, which is examining the Employee Degree Program. “It is my hope that more employees will take advantage of this opportunity,” she writes.
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Northeast Farmers’ Berry Crops To Be Targeted By More Bugs
Spotted wing drosophila (SWD for short) will likely reemerge across the entire Northeast in 2013. Photo: Bev Gerdman, Washington State University.
[American Agriculturalist 2013-03-11] – “[The spotted winged drosophila, an introduced pest from Japan] will likely plague berry crops across the entire Northeast in 2013. Growers will need to be vigilant about scouting, timely harvests and treating with insecticide. There are no other known measures to deter this pest,” write Kathy Demchak and Marvin Pritts, chair of the Department of Horticulture. “Organic growers, in particular, will likely be hit hard by SWD.”
Ready to plant: ‘Iron Lady’ tomato punches out blights [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-14] – If the name fits, grow it: “Iron Lady” is the first tomato to resist three major fungal diseases — early blight, late blight and Septoria leaf spot — plaguing New York’s growers for years. For farmers, this new tomato dramatically reduces the need for expensive fungicide. Iron Lady is available to both producers and home gardeners for the upcoming growing season. Favoring the Northeast’s moist, cool conditions, one or more of these diseases occurs yearly, prompting Martha Mutschler-Chu, Cornell professor of plant breeding and genetics, to create tomatoes that resist late blight and early blight.
Invasive weeds could shed light on climate-coping [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-13] – While other species are expected to suffer from environmental fluctuations, changes in temperature may help invasive weeds expand their ranges. Many weeds are capable of relatively rapid genetic change as well, further enhancing their ability to colonize new areas, says weed ecologist Antonio DiTommaso, associate professor of crop and soil sciences and the Richard C. Call, Director of Agricultural Sciences.
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