Archive for the “Research” Category

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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low tunnelFrom Heather Scott, technician, Drinkwater Lab:

As part of the Food Dignity Project, I am working with local gardeners to measure how much produce they grow in their gardens in one season. I have 18 home gardeners and 32 community gardeners participating this year!

We hope to find out if gardeners are producing nutritionally and economically significant amounts of food. Based on preliminary data from 22 gardens last year, they are indeed! They averaged 181 pounds of food, valued at over $550. The top producer grew over 450 pounds of food!

If you’d like to find out more about some the gardeners who are participating, visit our Ithaca Garden Harvest Log Blog.

Food Dignity is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68004-30074 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

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More than 100 greenhouse growers and retailers, florists, educators and others from around the state attended the 2014 Cornell Floriculture Field Day. The day included morning presentations on campus followed by afternoon walkabouts on flower trials and pests and diseases at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility.

In the morning, judges rated entries in the 11th annual Kathy Pufahl Container Competition, which has raised more than $10,000 since its inception for IBD research at Mt. Sinai Hospital. View all entries.

Container contest judging

Don Horowitz (’77), Wittendale’s Florist & Greenhouses, East Hampton, N.Y., took home the blue ribbon in the Open Division.

container contest winner

Attendees placed flags to vote for their favorite annual and perennial flower and foliage varieties

placing flags

Christian Lesage, one of the Cornell undergrads who managed the flower trials, explains the creative vegetable and flower pallet plantings they incorporated into the demonstrations this season.


David Harris, another of the Cornell undergrads who managed the flower trials, discusses annual flower trial with attendees.


John Sanderson, Department of Entomology, talks about pest problems in perennial plantings.


Brian Eshenaur, New York State IPM Program, moves in for a closer look at pest problems.


Attendees admire container contest entries.


If you attend the 2015 Floriculture Field Day, don’t forget your camera.


On the far right in the above image is garden columnist Carol Bradford. View her photo gallery at

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Ken Mudge gives shiitake mushroom demo at MacDaniels Nut Grove

Ken Mudge gives shiitake mushroom demo at MacDaniels Nut Grove.

From the Ithaca Journal [2014-08-04]:

“… ‘You’re not going to get rich, but it’s not just a hobby, or it doesn’t have to be,’ said Ken Mudge, Associate Professor at Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.

“[A] Cornell-UVM study found that growing mushrooms outdoors during a four-month period can be profitable to farmers with at least 500 logs. With prices as high as $16 per pound in some parts of the Northeast, a 500-log operation could earn $11,190 in gross income. Locally, prices hover about $10 per pound.

“‘Really, if you have access to the woods, it’s not that hard to get started,’ said [local grower Steve] Sierigk.

Read the whole article.

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David Harris, Chrystal Stewart and Fred Gouker

David Harris, Chrystal Stewart and Fred Gouker

Some recent awards and recognitions:

Crystal Stewart, Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Agriculture Specialist with the Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program, was awarded an Achievement Award at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) held in Mobile, Alabama on July 22. The Achievement Award is presented to those agricultural agents that have been working in their field for less than 10 years but in that short time have made significant contributions to their profession.

Fred Gouker, PhD candidate in the Graduate Field of Plant Breeding and Genetics and member of Larry Smart’s lab was a co-winner of the Best Student Poster at the International Poplar and Willow Symposium VI July 21-23 in Vancouver, BC for his paper entitled Analysis of phenotypic and genetic diversity of a Salix purpurea association mapping population.

David Harris, a rising senior majoring in Plant Science with a minor in East Asian Studies received the Long Island Flower Growers Association (LIFGA) Scholarship. Harris’s career goal is to work for an international company that plans on expanding production or sales into Asia.

Update [2014-08-02] from Marvin Pritts: At the American Society for Horticultural Science meetings in Orlando this week, Terence Robinson received the Outstanding Extension Educator Award and Bill Miller delivered the B.Y. Morrison lecture. Also, Mary Meyer, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota (M.S. Cornell, 73), delivered the presidential address.

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Mary Thurn, research support specialist with the Cornell Turfgrass Program, demonstrates how she uses the [make and model] drone to get an aerial view of turf research plots.

Above: Mary Thurn, research support specialist with the Cornell Turfgrass Program, demonstrates how she uses a DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter with GoPro camera drone to get an aerial view of turf research plots.

Cornell Turfgrass Program researchers are employing a drone this summer to take aerial photos of their research plots.

“Of course we still collect data. But with the bird’s-eye view, you can see things that you can’t see readily — or at all — from the ground,” says research support specialist Mary Thurn. “We can also send pictures to collaborators who can’t visit the site in person and they can still see treatment differences for themselves.”

Drones may prove to be a practical tool for turf managers, too, Thurn points out. For example, a golf course superintendent could fly one around the course to spot stressed grass that may need water, fertilizer or pest management attention before the problem gets too severe.

Aerial images can show differences not readily visible at ground level.

Aerial images can show differences not readily visible at ground level.

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