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Soil Health ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Workshop

More than 50 government agency staff, conservationists, researchers, and students from around the world flocked to campus for the four-day Cornell Soil Health ‘Train-the-Trainer’ Workshop August 5 to 8.

Attendees heard from a line-up of speakers on the latest in soil health testing and management, participated in hands-on workshops, put together mangaement plans, and visited Cornell’s Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora for field work and demonstrations.

For more information about the Cornell Soil Health program, visit the Cornell Soil Health website.

Horticulture graduate student Miles Schwartz Sax (right) and attendees examine healthy urban soil from a planting outside Mann Library that was certified by the Sustainable Sites Initiative, the equivalent of LEED certification for landscapes.

Horticulture graduate student Miles Schwartz Sax (right) and attendees examine healthy urban soil from a planting outside Mann Library that was certified by the Sustainable Sites Initiative, the equivalent of LEED certification for landscapes.

Greg Peck explains the science behind the ‘Tree of 40 Fruit’

[Via livescience.com 2015-08-03]:

“An art project featuring a live tree that bears 40 different kinds of fruit is more than just a conversation piece. The so-called “Tree of 40 Fruit” — blossoming in a variety of pretty pink hues when completed — is rooted in science.

“The eye-catching artistic rendering of the tree brought worldwide attention to its creator, Sam Van Aken, a professor in the school of art at Syracuse University in New York. And although Van Aken’s “Franken-tree” is not common, the processes that hold it together are, according to experts.

“‘[Van Aken has] taken the idea of a single root stock and a single variety and amplified it to express something creative, and that’s the artistic side of it for him,’ said Greg Peck, an assistant professor of horticulture at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. [Peck received his PhD in Horticulture at Cornell in 2009 and will be joining the Horticulture Section faculty here this fall.]”

Read the whole article.

Tree of 40 Fruit

More information, video.

Podcast: What’s wrong with my tomatoes? with Meg McGrath

Meg McGrath

Meg McGrath

Meg McGrath, vegetable pathologist based at the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center, talked with Margaret Roach about tomato troubles on Roach’s popular A Way to Garden podcast.

Summer school doesn’t have to be a drag

Bryan Duff, lecturer, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, and a pair of promising teachers in training are teaching film production and the physics of music at Colorado middle school.

In film, students dress up, apply makeup and produce a piece of their own. When they’re done, they’ll be reviewed by a panel of college film students and awards assigned to the best one. Under the surface, it’s a lesson in storytelling and, by extension, writing.

In physics, students look at how instruments are designed to shape sound waves.

“There is so much physics behind music,” said Duff. “It gives it a context they can relate to.”

Looking at a diagram, they can tell you whether a trumpet will make a higher sound with a valve open or shut. To illustrate the point, they make instruments of their own, including bagpipe like glove-o-phones which bring to mind the vuvuzela craze of 2010.

Read the whole article.

Bryan Duff assists student in the use of a glove-o-phone. Photo: Will Grandbois / Post Independent

Bryan Duff assists student in the use of a glove-o-phone. Photo: Will Grandbois / Post Independent

Geneva Summer Scholars visit the Ithaca campus

geneva-scholarsReposted from CALS Notes [2-15-07-28]

Undergraduate interns from Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York visited Cornell yesterday to explore the campus, meet with faculty, and to learn about the graduate program.

Over the summer students have the opportunity to gain research experience while working with faculty, graduate students, postdocs, and staff at in Geneva to discover more about fungi, apples, beetles, and so much more.

While at Cornell the interns sat down with Bill Miller, the Director of Graduate Studies for the School of Integrative Plant Science, and Stewart Gray of Plant Pathology for an interactive discussion and an opportunity to ask questions.

The most asked question was how to get into graduate school, and both Miller and Gray explained that research experience is vital, and since the students are interning in Geneva, they are on the right track.

Gray said they “are looking for a breadth of experiences and skills” in potential graduate students.

Some students wondered what the path would be like after they earned a graduate degree and the faculty explained that many go into academia, but some also go into industry and government research, consulting, and extension among other fields.

Miller’s answer to this question was to “be open to opportunities that present themselves.”

Hannah Sweet ’16, of the University of Minnesota – Morris explained that she is “new to this whole process, so getting honest information is really beneficial.”

After this talk, the students met with entomology Department Chair, Laura Harrington and Bryan Danforth, professor of entomology, for an interactive discussion surrounding similar topics.

The students finished the day with a tour of Cornell’s campus, and an obligatory stop at the Dairy Bar for ice cream before heading off to Geneva, where they will continue working hard before (hopefully) coming back to Cornell for grad school.

Halseth honored by Potato Association of America

Sieczka and Halseth

Sieczka and Halseth

Don Halseth, emeritus associate professor in the Horticulture Section, was awarded an Honorary Life Membership in the Potato Association of America at the PAA annual meeting July 22 in Portland, Maine.

Honorary Life Membership is the highest award bestowed upon an individual by the PAA, and recognizes outstanding contributions to the potato industry and to the organization.

Emeritus Horticulture faculty Joe Sieczka, himself a PAA Honorary Life Membership recipient in 1970, presented the award.

Press release.

CAU tours Bluegrass Lane

Members of the Cornell’s Adult University course “Coffee, Cloves, and Chocolate: How Plants Have Shaped Human History,” taught by Don Rakow, took a field trip Friday to the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility adjacent to campus where research technician Kendra Hutchins gave them a tour of annual flower and foliage plant trials and other plantings. Earlier in the week, the class toured Gimme! Coffee’s roasting facility near Trumansburg.

Research technician Kendra Hutchins explains annual flower trials to Don Rakow's CAU class.

Research technician Kendra Hutchins explains annual flower trials to Don Rakow’s CAU class.

Late blight confirmed in New York

Late blight — a highly contagious and devastating disease of tomatoes and potatoes — has been confirmed in Wayne, Wyoming and Livingston counties. If your crops have been infected, it’s critical that you take action to help stop the spread of the disease.

The New York State IPM program has developed posters and videos to help you identify the disease and learn how to properly dispose of infected plants. Please share them widely.

late blight poster

In the news

Cornell University Recycling Agricultural Plastics Program Field Coordinator Nate Leonard holds one of the sidewalk pavers made from recycling used farm plastics from NY farms. Photo: Brian P. Whattam

Cornell University Recycling Agricultural Plastics Program Field Coordinator Nate Leonard holds one of the sidewalk pavers made from recycling used farm plastics from NY farms. Photo: Brian P. Whattam

New 6-County Agricultural Plastics Recycling Initiative [Empire Farm Days news release 2015-07-14] – A partnership of Ontario County, Casella Resource Solutions, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County is looking to divert farm plastic waste material away from the regional landfill in Ontario County to recycling opportunities. Recycling plastics can save farm and business owners landfill and dumpster fees of $70 or more per ton and removing farm plastics from the waste stream extends the life of landfill space. The program also serves farmers in Livingston, Monroe, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties. Read the full release.

Cornell team readies for national ‘Weed Olympics’ July 21 [Cornell Chronicle 2015-07-15] – After enduring practice through thistle and flashcards, the Cornell University Weed Team will send four graduate students and seven undergraduates for two days of agronomic combat at the 2015 National Collegiate Weed competition – affectionately dubbed the “Weed Olympics.” The contest will be held at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Research and Development Center at South Charleston, Ohio, July 21-22. Horticulture graduate student Vinay Bhaskar is among the students representing Cornell under the tutelage of Antonio DiTommaso, professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section, School of Integrative Plant Science. Read the whole article.

Stopping Pests Earns Greenhouse Pro ‘Excellence in IPM’ Award [NYSIPM Program news release 2015-07-16] – : Nora Catlin, floriculture specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, has received an “Excellence in IPM” award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM). The award honors Catlin for her work with commercial greenhouse growers who, on Long Island alone, contribute nearly $80 million to New York’s economy. Catlin received her award at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center’s Plant Science Day on July 15. Read the full release.

PBS Insight: Cornell Small Farm Program Supports NY Military Veterans in Farming

Reposted from CALS Notes [2015-07-15]:

On July 10, PBS Insight highlighted the efforts of the Cornell Small Farm Program to support military veterans farming in New York State. Tune in to meet some of the veterans putting their skills and discipline into agricultural careers, from running the family farm to greenhouse flower production, with mentorship, resources and community offered by the Cornell Small Farm Program. Video link.