This season, farm managers and volunteers are installing two innovative food-producing systems at Dilmun Hill, Cornell’s student-run farm.
The first is a permanent raised bed system for annual crops that follows the contours of the sloping ground at the farm. Now that they’re established, the beds won’t require additional mechanical tillage, further reducing erosion at the site.
The second project is a perennial garden on a very steep slope. Using permaculture principles, Liz Camuti, one of the student farm managers, designed a system of swales to catch water that might otherwise run off. The area will be planted with a variety of fruit trees, berries and other crops.
Workshops at Dilmun Hill this year will explore techniques used for these projects, which are supported by the Towards Sustainability Foundation and the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.
More than 30 volunteers from Cornell University and George Junior Republic School planted about 800 trees on two acres at Cornell’s Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y., May 18. Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) and Cornell’s Department of Natural Resources hosted the tree-planting party.
The planting is part of a research project evaluating six methods of protecting saplings from browsing deer, including different tubes, liners and bud caps. As volunteers planted the white oak, sugar maple, and black locust seedlings, they measured, staked and tagged them, and the trees’ growth will be carefully tracked over the next few years.
“The goal of the research is to help landowners and managers find the most economical and sustainable ways to protect vulnerable trees from deer when replanting forestland or establishing windbreaks,” says Peter Smallidge, State Extension Forester with the Department of Natural Resources, who leads the project.
The applied research project will be used in extension programming to provide guidance to foresters, maple producers, woodlot owners, and farmers. Tree planting is a popular activity, and the mix of species is linked to the diverse interests of owners and managers throughout New York.
Nick Vail and growers in CUAES’s Caldwell greenhouses grew the year-old seedlings for the trial.
Volunteers planted more than 800 trees on two acres at the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm. Above, student volunteer Radoslav Zlatev pounds in tree stake while Thompson Farm field assistant Rick Randolph looks on.
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.”
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.
For the hundreds of students and others who pass through and congregate on the ‘Garden Floor’ of Plant Science Building, the hallways just got cheerier: Three 5- by 7-foot acrylic on canvas murals by Ithaca artist Kellie Cox-Brady now adorn the walls.
Already an established artist, Cox-Brady honed her horticultural art skills by taking online botanical illustration courses developed by Marcia Eames-Sheavly. And she helped Eames-Sheavly create a third advanced course.
“Gardens surround our building. The whole idea was to bring some of that color and inspiration we get from plants indoors, year-round,” says Eames-Sheavly. “I think Kellie did just that.”
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.
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.
New tool helps farmers nip nitrogen losses [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.
From Mark Bridgen, director of the The Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center and Pi Alpha Xi advisor.
The first chapter of the national horticulture honor society Pi Alpha Xi (PAX) was formed at Cornell in 1923. But after more than a decade of inactivity, PAX’s Alpha Chapter is back with the induction of new members on May 7, 2013.
Back row: Mark Bridgen (advisor), Elizabeth Simpson, Angella Macias, Matthew Bond, Rowan Bateman, David Harris, Neil Mattson (faculty), James Keach (graduate student). Front: Madeline (Maddy) Olberg, Chelsea Van Acker, Melissa Kitchen (graduate student).
The vision for PAX grew out of an after-dinner conversation of a group of academics from several universities at the International Flower Show in New York City in 1923. They were looking for ways to recognize the academic achievements of floriculture students in the United States, and foster fellowship among students, educators and professional horticulturists.
A group at Cornell University led by Arno Nehrling established the society, writing its first constitution and ritual and designing the insignia (right). The first installation of the Alpha Chapter was held on June 1, 1923. It has since spread to some 40 academic institutions around the country, and embraces all horticulture disciplines.
PAX was very active at Cornell University for many years, peaking in the 1970s. Members organized a formal dance with a live band each fall at Willard Straight Hall. Back in those days, young men presented huge football mum corsages to all the young ladies at these events.
As student enrollment in floriculture and ornamental horticulture declined and faculty retired over the years, the Alpha Chapter’s activities declined, and it eventually became totally inactive sometime in the 1990’s.
This year, I was named the new advisor to the Alpha Chapter and we’ve reactivated our membership with National PAX. I was originally a member of the Gamma Chapter at the Pennsylvania State University back in 1976, and later continued my activity as a graduate student at the Epsilon Chapter at Ohio State University and with the Kappa Chapter at Virginia Polytechnic & State University, where I earned my PhD. My wife, Margot, was also a member of PAX at Penn State.
The floriculture team at Cornell University is anxious to invigorate the Alpha Chapter and reignite a tradition that began here at Cornell. You can find out more about Pi Alpha Xi at the American Society for Horticultural Science website, or contact me with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.