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In the world of weeds, art meets science

Reposted from the Cornell Chronicle’s Essentials Blog [2014-08-24]:

Chan at work in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory

Chan at work in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory

In the brutal, mind-bending world of agronomic combat that is a regional weed Olympiad, Plant Sciences major Patricia Chan ’17 became a legend.

Contestants solve real-life farmers’ problems, compete in weed and herbicide identification, and test their skills calibrating sprayers. Winners often get scooped up as prized employees of seed and agricultural companies.

Among the 55 undergraduate and graduate students participating in mid-July at the Northeastern Collegiate Weed Science Society Contest at Blacksburg, Virginia, Chan was the only student to correctly identify the bonus-question weed: Lobelia inflata, or Indian tobacco.

“What helped was that I was familiar with the genus beforehand and could recognize it from the flower structure,” said Chan. “I did take botanical illustration this spring [taught by Marcia Eames-Sheavly], which probably does help with learning to examine the details of a plant. And I had taken the plant systematics and taxonomy course [taught by Jerrold Davis, professor of plant biology].”

Chan said Davis’ taxonomy course involved a lot of hands-on practice with plant identification at the family level, as she worked in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory, crop gardens, the university’s weed garden and in the horticulture club’s greenhouse to become familiar with a lot of plants.

You can see an example of Chan’s botanical illustration here.

Cornell's 20016 Weeds Team.

Cornell’s 20016 Weeds Team. (Chan far right)

 

Join Dilmun Hill Student Farm’s Fall CSA

click for flyerFrom the Dilmun Hill Student Farm farm managers: dilmunmanagers@gmail.com:

We are excited to announce our CSA share during the fall semester! Following a successful 12-week summer share, we will have a six-week long fall CSA running from September 8 through October 13. Members will pick up their share on campus at the Farmer’s Market at Cornell on Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Shares will consist of 6 to 8 vegetables per week. We encourage larger families to purchase two shares or supplement the share with vegetables from the Cornell farmer’s market. Due to the nature of fall crops, a lot of the produce will keep and store well, so don’t be worried about needing to finish your share in a week. We hope our onions and winter squash will be able to nourish you into the winter. Additionally, CSA members will receive 20% off Dilmun purchases at the farmer’s market.

Payment for our CSA is a sliding scale. We hope that people who can will pay more for their share so that we are able to make the share more affordable to others. With that in mind, the CSA is valued at $120 for the six weeks, but people can pay anywhere between $100 and $140. As CSAs will be delivered in a reusable wax box, there is also a $5 box deposit that will be returned at the end of the CSA if you return your boxes week to week.

Work for a share will also be offered this fall. Dilmun benefits greatly from the hard work of our volunteers, and help from volunteers will be especially important once classes start back up. For 3 hours of volunteering a week, you will receive a CSA share. Volunteers need to commit to volunteering at one of our weekly work parties. The Sunday work party from 1 to 4 p.m. will in general focus on tasks such as weeding and farm up keep. Our Tuesday work party from 4 to 7 p.m. will focus on harvesting for Thursdays farmer’s market. Everyone’s schedules are busy, so volunteers must be able to come to the same work parties each week.

We are excited to be able to provide yummy vegetables into the fall for the Cornell community and hope you are interested in participating. Email us for an application if you want to join or have any questions!

 

30 students present findings at Undergraduate Research Symposium

Brandon Webster

Brandon Webster speaks on his research on food spoilage molds that can survive high temperatures, and his findings on how different strains vary in their genetics and growth at the Sixth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium for Life Sciences August 8.

Webster, a senior at Humboldt State University, was part of this summer’s Microbial Friends & Foes Research Experience for Undergraduates program that provides training in the concepts and experimental approaches central to understanding microbial interactions with eukaryotic hosts.

Students in the program work with faculty mentors in the Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology Section (Webster worked in the Hodge Lab) and the Department of Microbiology.

Dilmun Hill high tunnel nears completion

On August 4, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) staff, Dilmun Hill Student Farm farm managers and farm  steering committee member Alena Hutchinson took advantage of a relatively calm morning to install plastic on Dilmun Hill’s new high tunnel.

Read more about the high tunnel and view time-lapse of framework construction.

CUAES organic farm coordinator Betsy Leonard helps pull plastic over the high tunnel.

CUAES organic farm coordinator Betsy Leonard helps pull plastic over the high tunnel.

CUAES operations director Glen Evans, Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay, and technician Ethan Tilebein secure plastic to the east ...

CUAES operations director Glen Evans, Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay, and technician Ethan Tilebein secure plastic to the east …

... and west endwalls.

… and west endwalls.

The warmer temperatures inside the tunnel will help extend harvest of heat-loving crops like peppers, tomatoes and eggplant later in the fall.

The warmer temperatures inside the tunnel will help extend harvest of heat-loving crops like peppers, tomatoes and eggplant later in the fall.

 

 

Geneva scholars experience a summer of Cornell science

Sofia González Martinez of the University of Puerto Rico researched the viability of using progeny of a native apple species crossed with a Cornell breeding selection for use in hard cider production for a project with Professor Susan Brown. (Photo: Susan Brown)

Sofia González Martinez of the University of Puerto Rico researched the viability of using progeny of a native apple species crossed with a Cornell breeding selection for use in hard cider production for a project with Professor Susan Brown. (Photo: Susan Brown)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-08-03]:

Growing up in Puerto Rico meant Sofia González Martinez never saw apple orchards dotting the landscape. The thought of studying apples as an academic pursuit seemed like a remote possibility for a young student with a love of all plants.

That all changed this summer for the horticulture student from the University of Puerto Rico. For nine weeks she received a world-class education at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES), where as a Geneva Summer Research Scholar she had the opportunity to perform research for Susan Brown, one of the top apple breeders on the planet.

Working under the mentorship of Brown, the Goichman Family Director of the NYSAES and the Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences, González Martinez spent her summer in the orchard and the laboratory, collecting and analyzing apple spurs from 138 trees at the Geneva campus. There she learned how to perform sophisticated data analysis using statistical software for a project to determine the viability of using progeny of a native apple species (Malus fusca) crossed with a Cornell breeding selection for use in hard cider production.

Read the whole article.

High tunnel rises at Dilmun Hill Student Farm

A production-scale high tunnel is rising at Dilmun Hill Student Farm. Once complete, it will not only extend the growing season for the farm, but also serve as an educational resource for the many classes that visit the farm.  A high tunnel production workshop series is being planned in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension that will draw on the knowledge and experience of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates across many different departments.

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) staff, along with members of the Dilmun Hill Steering Committee, have been laying the groundwork at the high tunnel site since early spring, grading the land, spreading and incorporating compost, and installing the foundation. This past Wednesday afternoon, they made short work of installing the frame. (See time-lapse video.)

The high tunnel was made possible by the Toward Sustainability Foundation grant program. Undergraduate Steering Committee member and former Dilmun Hill Farm Manager Alena Hutchinson (Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, ’18) secured funding for the tunnel, and worked with builder Howard Hoover of Penn Yan, N.Y., to design a custom tunnel to meet the specialized needs of small- and medium-sized growers in Upstate New York.

The tunnel will feature a solar-powered, automated sidewall system designed by Hutchinson and fellow undergraduate engineering students to make ventilating the structure easier.

Another innovative feature of the high tunnel:  It is mounted on rails, so that the tunnel can be easily moved between two different growing areas.  Along with increasing production capacity, this design has environmental benefits, such as making crop rotation possible and allowing rain to leach salt from soil, avoiding the salt build up that can be a problem with stationary high tunnels.

Detailed design plans and assembly manuals for all aspects of the tunnel will be available upon the tunnel’s completion. For questions and/or if you want to be involved in the project, contact Alena Hutchinson (amh345@cornell.edu).

Hutchinson and CUAES technician Ethan Tilebein begin rafter intallation.

Hutchinson and CUAES technician Ethan Tilebein begin rafter intallation.

Betsy Leonard, CUAES organic farm coordinator, and Glen Evans, CUAES operations director, install sidewalls.

Betsy Leonard, CUAES organic farm coordinator, and Glen Evans, CUAES operations director, install sidewalls.

Anja Timm, CUAES communications coordinator, Hutchinson and Evans work on sidewall. Note roller and rail that allow the high tunnel to be moved easily.

Anja Timm, CUAES communications coordinator, Hutchinson and Evans work on sidewall. Note roller and rail (lower right) that allow the high tunnel to be moved easily.

Tilebein, Hutchinson and Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay install rafters.

Tilebein, Hutchinson and CUAES Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay install rafters.

McKay secures ridgepole.

McKay secures ridgepoles.


Update [2017-07-29]

On June 28, while still under construction, the tunnel took it’s first trip, traveling from a fallow area to an area newly planted with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Undergrads study medicinal plants in the Dominican Republic

Aregullin and students in the Dominican Republic.

Aregullin and students in the Dominican Republic.

This summer, Manuel Aregullin, senior research associate in the Plant Biology Section, led a group of Cornell undergraduates on a trip to the Dominican Republic to study Caribbean plant-based medicinal practices  that coexist with Western medicine in the treatment of disease.

The students developed projects that investigated the pharmacology of some prominent native species at a laboratory facility located in Punta Cana, and will present results at undergraduate symposia and conferences.

Aregullin is also director of Cornell’s Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) Program

The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health and included faculty mentors from Cornell, the University of Santo Domingo, Yale and Florida International University.

‘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.

Plant Sciences Major to receive Potato Growers Scholarship

Morning Ag Clips [2016-06-28]

Cassandra Proctor of Trumansburg, NY, has been named the 2016 Empire State Potato Growers Association Scholarship winner and will receive a $500 scholarship per academic year for up to four consecutive years of agricultural education at a college in New York State.

Cassandra will graduate from Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg in June. She plans to begin her pursuit of a degree in plant sciences at Cornell University in the fall. Her career goal is to earn a PhD in plant genetics and to research ways to improve plant yield and suitability for impoverished areas.

As a high school senior, she served as an FFA Co-Treasurer, and participated in the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga New Visions in Life Sciences Program that allowed her to intern in the Boyce Thompson Institute plant genetics research lab at Cornell University.

Cassandra was selected to attend the Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Iowa in 2015. This summer Cassie will travel to the Phillipines on an eight-week Borlaug Ruan International Internship at the International Rice Research Institute.

Read the whole article.

Cassandra Proctor (Photo: Boyce Thompson Institute)

Cassandra Proctor (Photo: Boyce Thompson Institute)

New Wine Scent Garden planted

wine scent garden

A collaboration between Food Science lecturer Kathleen Arnink and Urban Horticulture Institute director Nina Bassuk came to fruition this week when Bassuk and her staff planted a new Wine Scent Garden along the south side of Stocking Hall.

“The garden will be used by Viticulture and Enology students to train themselves to identify odors that are perceived in wines,” says Arnink, who teaches courses such as Introduction to Wines and Vines and Principles and Practices of Growing Grapes and Making Wines.

“This fall, students in the Wines and Vines lab will spend time in the garden exploring and sniffing with labels near the plants to help them learn the correct terminology to use when they smell these odors in wines,” adds Arnink. “I can also cover the labels later to quiz them to see what they’ve learned.”

Some of the common wine aromas represented in the garden include:

  • Rose, found in Muscat grapes and wines
  • Lemon, lime, pineapple and grass, perceived in many white wines
  • Licorice, curry, chocolate and tobacco, common descriptors for red wine odors

Bassuk’s planting list included several mints (Mentha spp.) and scented geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), curry plant (Helichrysum italicum), bee balm (Monarda spp.) and more.

The close proximity to classrooms in Stocking Hall is a big plus. “During crush, when students are making wines, it will be handy to say to them, ‘Run out and sniff these plants, and see if you can smell those odors in your Riesling.’”

 

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