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Red will be on the greens (and fairways) at the Rio Olympics

Cornell Chronicle [2016-07-29]

Rossi at 2015 Turf Field Day at Cornell's Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility

Rossi at 2015 Turf Field Day at Cornell’s Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility

When some of the world’s best golfers tee off next month in the 72-hole Olympic competition, they will be navigating fairways and greens imagined and designed by a pair of Cornellians. …

Gil Hanse, MLA ’89, bested a field of 29 of the world’s top golf architects four years ago and won the job of turning an abandoned sand mine in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro into a golf course that could challenge the best players in the game, then be used as a municipal course for a city and nation just being introduced to the sport.

“It’s very humbling and an incredible honor,” Hanse told reporters shortly after winning the competition four years ago.

Hanse – an award-winning course architect who founded Hanse Golf Course Design in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in 1993 – enlisted the help of fellow Cornellian Frank Rossi, Ph.D. ’91, to come up with a grassing plan in keeping with his philosophy of tailoring the golf course to the site, and not the other way around.

“He’s the best – he’s so passionate,” Hanse said of Rossi, who is an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ School of Integrative Plant Science. “He was out there doing a lot of research for us. My partner, Jim Wagner, and I talked with him about what sort of characteristics we want the grass to have from a playability standpoint.”

Read the whole article.

Vineyard cover crops save expense, environment

Undervine cover crop in vineyard.

Undervine cover crop in vineyard.

Cornell Chronicle [2017-07-18]:

Cornell researchers have advice for vineyard managers in cool and humid climates like the Northeast: cover up.

Maintaining bare soil beneath vines has long been accepted management practice to stifle competition from other vegetation, preserving water and nutrients to optimize grape growth. Exposing soil beneath trellises has been achieved by using extensive herbicide treatments, a practice that is expensive and potentially damaging to the surrounding vineyard ecosystem and locations downstream due to runoff.

Excessive vine growth can result as a function of the lack of competition for water and nutrients, requiring costly canopy management practices in the vineyard to maintain fruit quality.

Planting cover crops under grapevines instead can remediate these problems, according to researchers at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. A series of studies led by Justine Vanden Heuvel, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, provides vineyard managers with an environmentally sustainable alternative to herbicide treatments in cool and humid climates while tamping down the cost associated with unnecessary herbicide use.

Read the whole story.

‘Rice Bowl’ bioswale update

One of the projects tackled  in spring 2014 by students in the course Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920)  was the installation of water retention bioswales east of Rice Hall. Dubbed the “Rice Bowls,” the structures are designed to reduce runoff and increase infiltration of water from adjacent parking lots. Students selected species that can tolerate dry periods as well as periodic flooding, such as Shining Sumac, Bayberry, Blackhaw, Spirea, Sea Buckthorn and certain Willows.

This short video shows the installation process and includes updates on the planting, showing how they filled in well despite suffering through both wet and dry seasons.

New state pollinator protection plan announced

Dean Kathryn Boor speaks at Cornell’s Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Studies in Varna, New York, June 24, at an event to announce recommendations outlined in the NYS Pollinator Protection Plan. (Patrick Shanahan/University Photography)

Dean Kathryn Boor speaks at Cornell’s Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Studies in Varna, New York, June 24, at an event to announce recommendations outlined in the NYS Pollinator Protection Plan. (Patrick Shanahan/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-06-27]

State officials and Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of the Agriculture and Life Sciences, announced recommendations of the New York State Pollinator Task Force at Cornell’s Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Studies in Varna, New York, June 24.

The 2016-17 state budget includes $500,000 to help implement practices and conduct research outlined in a New York State Pollinator Protection Plan developed by the task force and its advisers.

“Pollinators are critical to food production worldwide, and as a consequence they contribute in a very important way to our state’s, our national and our global economies,” Boor said. “Apples, squash, pumpkins, pears, tomatoes, strawberries, cherries all are among the pollinator-dependent crops that annually generate more than $500 million for New York state’s agricultural economy.”

At the same time, according to research, managed honeybees and native pollinators are in serious decline.

Read the whole article.

A digger bee forages on blueberry flowers. Previous research has shown that bees pass parasites and pathogens to each other when they forage on wildflowers, but the details of exactly how disease is spread through diverse communities of bees is unclear. (Photo: Scott McArt)

A digger bee forages on blueberry flowers. Previous research has shown that bees pass parasites and pathogens to each other when they forage on wildflowers, but the details of exactly how disease is spread through diverse communities of bees is unclear. (Photo: Scott McArt)

See also: Scientists to examine spread of disease in bees with NIH grant Cornell Chronicle [2016-06-27]

A team led by Cornell researchers has received a five-year, $2.2 million National Institutes of Health grant to develop an approach to better understand how pathogens that infect bees and other pollinators are spread.

In New York state alone, 13 percent of bee species are experiencing declining ranges and populations. Nationwide, beekeepers are losing close to half of their honeybee colonies every year, in part due to disease.

Scientists have identified key viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens that cause bee diseases and lead to declining populations. This decline is a major concern as pollinators – especially wild and managed bees – are critical to native ecosystems and agricultural crops, providing the equivalent of billions of dollars in pollination annually.

Read the whole article.

Cornell Fruit Field Day, July 20, Geneva, N.Y.

fruit compositeFrom Art Agnello, Dept. of Entomology, NYSAES:

Mark your calendars for the Cornell Fruit Field Day, to be held in Geneva on Wednesday, July 20.  The 2016 version of this triennial event will feature ongoing research in berries, hops, grapes, and tree fruit, and is being organized by Cornell University, the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, CALS Fruit Program Work Team and Cornell Cooperative Extension.  All interested persons are invited to learn about the fruit research under way at Cornell University.  Attendees will be able to select from tours of different fruit commodities.  Details of the program presentations are still being finalized, but the event will feature a number of topics, including:


  • Spotted wing drosophila research update in berry crops
  • Hummingbird use, monitoring network
  • Use of exclusion netting for managing spotted wing drosophila in fall raspberries
  • Monitoring spotted wing drosophila for management decisions in summer raspberry and blueberry
  • Behavioral control of spotted wing drosophila using repellents and attract & kill stations
  • Effect of habitat diversity on ecosystem services for strawberries
  • High tunnel production of black and red raspberries
  • Day-neutral strawberries/low tunnel production

 Tree Fruits

  • Apple breeding and genetic studies
  • Research updates on fire blight, apple scab, mildew
  • Bitter pit in Honeycrisp
  • 3D camera canopy imaging
  • Ambrosia beetle management trials
  • Malus selections for potential use in cider production
  • Precision spraying in orchards
  • Role of insects in spreading fire blight in apples
  • Bacterial canker of sweet cherries
  • Rootstocks & training systems for sweet cherry
  • NC-140 rootstock trials on Honeycrisp and Snap Dragon
  • Pear rootstocks & training systems

 Grapes & Hops

  • Sour rot of grapes
  • VitisGen grape breeding project
  • Precision spraying in grapes
  • Managing the spread of leafroll virus in Vinifera grape using insecticides and vine removal
  • Early leaf removal on Riesling
  • Overview of NYSAES hops planting
  • Powdery and downy mildew management in hops
  • Hops weed mgt; mite biocontrol
  • Update on malting barley research


  • FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Field Day details

The event will take place at the NYSAES Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm South, 1097 County Road No. 4, 1 mile west of Pre-emption Rd. in Geneva, NY.

Arrive at 8:00 AM to get settled in. Tours begin promptly at 8:30 AM and are scheduled in the morning from 8:30 to 11:30 and in the afternoon from 1:30 to 5:00. Lunch will be served at the exhibit tent area between 11:30-12:30.

Visit sponsors anytime from 11:30-1:30

Learn about products and services from:

  • Agro Liquid
  • Arysta Life Science
  • Dow AgroSciences
  • Dupont
  • Farm Credit East, ACA
  • Finger Lakes Trellis Supply
  • LaGasse Works, Inc.
  • Lakeview Vineyard Equipment
  • NY Apple Sales
  • OESCO, Inc
  • Red Jacket Orchards
  • Superior Wind Machine Service
  • Valent USA Corp.
  • Wafler Farms
  • Tastings from War Horse Brewing

To participate as a sponsor, see the registration website or contact Shelly Cowles (315-787-2274;

Register now!

Admission fee is $50/person ($40 for additional attendees from the same farm or business), which covers tours, lunch and educational materials. Pre-registration is required. Walk-in registration may be available for a $10 surcharge on the day of the event.  Register on the Cornell Fruit Field Day Event registration page,

Strawless strawberries? Cornell research explores the possibility

Charlotte Leape ‘18 holds up a Honeoye strawberry variety harvested from the research fields of Marvin Pritts. The honeoye strawberry breed was first released by Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in 1979. Photo: Matt Hayes / Cornell

Charlotte Leape ‘18 holds up a Honeoye strawberry variety harvested from the research fields of Marvin Pritts. The honeoye strawberry breed was first released by Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in 1979. Photo: Matt Hayes / Cornell

CALS Notes article by Gwen Aviles ’17, a student writer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Marvin Pritts wants to know just what happens when the straw is taken out of strawberry growing.

Pritts, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, and his team of summer interns are exploring how inputs into the soil affect the quality of the strawberries produced.

Adding straw to the field seems like it should be beneficial to growth: after all, straw provides the soil with the organic matter plants need to thrive. The practice has long been utilized in strawberry growing operations: “Growers use the straw as protection for the berries and put the straw between the rows of plants so they can be easily harvested,” Pritts explained. But he wanted to know just how this practice impacts strawberry growth.

Last season Pritts and graduate student Maria Gannett, M.S. ’16 incorporated varying levels of straw, grass clippings, and wood chips — all differing in carbon/nitrogen ratios — into different plots of soil to test how plants reacted as the amendments decomposed.

The only plots that showed negative growth were the ones with straw in their soil.

Read the whole article.

Video: Minisymposium tribute to Peter Davies

Peter Davies, now and then. (Photo: Matt Hayes, CALS Communications)

Peter Davies, now and then. (Photo: Matt Hayes, CALS Communications)

If you missed Friday’s minisymposium in honor of Peter Davies’ 46 years of research and teaching in the Plant Sciences at Cornell highlighting the changes that have taken place in plant hormone biology over the last 40 years and how Davies contributed to progress in the field, it’s available online.

The symposium featured three talks:

  • Hormones and Plant Development – Jim Reid, Distinguished Professor, University of Tasmania
  • Global Aspects of Plant Biotechnology – Sarah Evanega, Director, Cornell Alliance for Science
  • Plant Politics – Ron Herring, Professor, Department of Government, Cornell University

Read more about the symposium in CALS Notes.

Atkinson Center funds SIPS researchers in diverse initiatives

From Discovery that Connects (SIPS blog):

Four interdisciplinary projects involving SIPS researchers are included among the 2016 Academic Venture Fund Awards from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

Boosting Maize Yields Sustainably

2016 AVF maizeFarming systems that use ecological principles—rather than expensive chemicals—are helping African farmers raise more food sustainably. One method protects maize from destructive moths with two partner crops: a legume that repels the hungry moths and a grass that attracts them for a tasty meal. This “push-pull” approach improves soil fertility and can triple yields, but some farms have seen much smaller gains. This team will find out why. Their answers about how surrounding landscapes and soil affect results will help more smallholder farmers benefit from sustainable practices that are helping their neighbors.

Investigators: Katja Poveda, Entomology; Andre Kessler, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Laurie Drinkwater, Horticulture; Magdeline Laba, Soil and Crop Sciences

Big Pool, Little Pool

2016 AVF poolFlooding in urban areas is a growing problem, as the world’s cities expand and storms become more intense and variable. Piscinões (big pools) are São Paulo’s primary strategy for reducing flooding. While often effective for flood control, these single-purpose basins also divide neighborhoods, concentrate pollutants, and require costly maintenance. With officials and experts in São Paulo, this team will create landscape-based design guidelines for piscinões that can work at large and small scales to enhance human communities and urban ecosystems. These multifunctional pools offer a new model for urban living with water.

Investigators: Brian Davis, Landscape Architecture; Raymond Craib, History; Tammo Steenhuis, Biological and Environmental Engineering; Thomas Whitlow, Horticulture

Crop Disease and Climate Change

2016 AVF rustSome plant pathogens spread through the air—and the effects on staple food crops can be devastating. Climate change could mean more frequent plant epidemics, as extreme weather may move pathogens more easily across continents. This project brings together experts in atmospheric science, plant pathology, and computational sustainability to model how climate change, weather events, and changing agricultural landscapes will influence the future long-distance transport of fungi affecting global food security, such as wheat stem rust fungus. The team will coordinate with Cornell’s Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat program and international disease management programs to safeguard the world’s wheat.

Investigators: Natalie Mahowald, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Gary Bergstrom, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology; William Fry, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology; Christopher Myers, Physics

Conservation Incentive Programs for Latin America

2016 conservationSome biodiversity hotspots in Latin America have lost more than half of their forests to agricultural development. Several nations are considering market-based conservation solutions to forest restoration. Programs that reward environ-mentally sustainable practices—growing coffee and other crops beneath trees, for example—can support struggling rural communities, restore degraded land, slow forest loss, and help countries meet international carbon commitments. Working with Rainforest Alliance and industry partners in Nicaragua, the researchers will develop a portfolio of practical incentive programs to help Nicaragua meet its international pledge to restore 2.8 million hectares of degraded lands.

Investigators: Amanda Rodewald, Lab of Ornithology/Natural Resources; Mark Milstein, Johnson School; Viviana Ruiz Gutierrez, Lab of Ornithology; Miguel Gómez, Applied Economics and Management; Stephen DeGloria, Soil and Crop Sciences

Liberty Hyde Bailey Lecture video: Genomics and the Future of Agriculture

If you missed Friday’s  Liberty Hyde Bailey Lecture, Genomics and the Future of Agriculture, it’s available online.

The lecture and panel discussion, in honor of professor emeritus Steve Tanksley, winner of the 2016 Japan Prize, featured three former lab members — Greg Martin, Jim Giovannoni, and Susan McCouch — introduced and moderated by Kathryn J. Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. They celebrated Tanksley’s contributions to plant breeding and genetics and the spirit of genomic discovery in the School of Integrative Plant Science with a panel discussion on genomics and the future of agriculture.

Kao-Kniffin, DiTommaso awarded $272,078 by USDA

Kao-Kniffin, DiTommaso

Kao-Kniffin, DiTommaso

Jenny Kao-Kniffin, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section, and Antonio DiTommaso,  professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section, received a $272,078 USDA grant to develop new ways to uncover novel compounds isolated from soil microorganisms that could be effective in weed management.

Using DNA analysis of soil to isolate bacteria that produce weed-suppressing compounds, the researchers hope to grow microbes and isolate the beneficial compounds they make. Kao-Kniffin and DiTommaso may then design experiments to understand how such compounds might be applied in agriculture to suppress weeds. The project is a response to growing concern about herbicide resistance in cropping systems.

The grant, announced June 2, were part of $14.5 million in funds handed out through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Foundation program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Four Cornell projects received $1.65 million from USDA [Cornell Chronicle 2016-06-09].

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