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Finicky deer avoid some invasive plants, promoting spread

At the Penn State Deer Research Center, ecologists offered deer a multiple-choice array of eight invasive introduced and seven native plants to determine deer feeding preferences among the species.

At the Penn State Deer Research Center, ecologists offered deer a multiple-choice array of eight invasive introduced and seven native plants to determine deer feeding preferences among the species.

Cornell Chronicle [2016-04-14]:

The dietary preferences of deer may be promoting the spread of such invasive species as garlic mustard, Japanese barberry and Japanese stiltgrass, according to a new study that tested white-tailed deer preferences for seven native and eight invasive plants commonly found in the northeastern U.S.

“Deer avoid certain invasive plants that are increasing in abundance in natural areas, suggesting that deer are causing unpalatable species to spread,” said Kristine Averill, a research associate in Cornell’s Section of Soil and Crop Sciences and the lead author of a study recently published online and in an upcoming print issue of the journal Biological Invasions.

The invasive herb garlic mustard, for example, has spread throughout the United States in the last 150 years and has become one of the worst forest invaders, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. In some areas, it has become the dominant forest underbrush plant, outcompeting native plants and reducing species diversity.

Read the whole article.

Soil paintings hung in Bradfield/Emerson foyer

artists with their work

Undergraduate and graduate students gathered with members of the Cornell Soil Health Team to celebrate the hanging of the paintings they created as part of a community art project commemorating Global Soil Week last December.

Participants mixed finely sifted soil grains with water and the traditional binder known as gesso to turn the varying hues of soil into paintable mixtures. Similar to acrylic, the paint retains the texture and character of the soil from where it originates, with hues of varying colors.

You can view the paintings in the foyer at the east entrance to Bradfield and Emerson Halls.

Panel discussion: The Holy Earth by Liberty Hyde Bailey

holy earth coverFrom Lynn M Bertoia, Program Coordinator, Library Administration:

The Holy Earth by Liberty Hyde Bailey
Panel discussion by:

  • Scott Peters, Development Sociology
  • Jim Tantillo, Natural Resources
  • John Linstrom, editor

Tuesday, April 19 at 4:00 pm
Mann Library, Stern Seminar Room 160

Protecting and sharing our environment for future generations is a global challenge we face today, and to celebrate Earth Day which falls on April 22nd this year, Mann Library is hosting a panel discussion highlighting the newly released 100th anniversary edition of The Holy Earth by Liberty Hyde Bailey (published by Counterpoint, December 2015).

Join us for a panel discussion with Scott Peters, Department of Development Sociology; Jim Tantillo, Department of Natural Resources; and John Linstrom, editor of the anniversary edition of The Holy Earth, and former curator and director of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum.

At the turn of the last century, when farming first began to face the most rapid series of changes that industrialization would bring, the most compelling voice representing the agrarian tradition came from the public intellectual Liberty Hyde Bailey, known as the “Father of Modern Horticulture.” He was a botanist, farmer, naturalist, and philosopher. Dean of the College of Agriculture at Cornell University from 1903 to 1913, he was moved by an enthusiasm and love for everything to do with life in the countryside, including gardening, forestry, and the economy, politics and culture of rural communities.

In 1915, Bailey’s environmental manifesto, The Holy Earth, addressed the industrialization of society with a message of responsible land stewardship which has never been as timely as it is now. Bailey called for “a new hold” that society must take to develop a “morals of land management.”

The centennial edition presents new editorial content and a new foreword by Wendell Berry whose own work is indebted to Bailey’s writing, and it introduces the classic to a new generation of environmentalists.

Refreshments served and books available for purchase.  More information.

Seminar video: Faking wine and making millions: Wine counterfeiting through the ages

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, we managed to capture it more or less despite the campus-wide power outage: Faking wine and making millions: Wine counterfeiting through the ages with Justine Vanden Heuvel, Associate Professor, Horticulture Section and Michael Fontaine,  Associate Professor, Department of Classics  is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Last chance for Cornell Orchards apples, cider & more

ApplesFriday, April 15 will be our final sales day for the season.

Stop into our retail store for:

  • Cider: Buy one, get one free
  • Apples: Empire, Mutsu, Gala, all out of our controlled atmosphere coolers. They are crunchy and sweet and taste like fresh off the tree. All buy one, get one free
  • Select items from Cornell Dairy.
  • Other food and gift items: We have a great variety of specialty items including pottery, chocolates, and candles. All of our gifts and specialty foods are from local New York vendors.

Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Sundays and Mondays)

More information.

‘Climate-smart soils’ may help balance the carbon budget

Johannes Lehmann, center, discusses soil research with farmers in Awassa, Ethiopia.(Andrew Martin Simons photo)

Johannes Lehmann, professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section, discusses soil research with farmers in Awassa, Ethiopia.(Andrew Martin Simons photo)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-04-06]

Here’s the scientific dirt: Soil can help reduce global warming.

While farm soil grows the world’s food and fiber, scientists are examining ways to use it to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can substantially reduce atmospheric carbon by using soil. We have the technology now to begin employing good soil practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Johannes Lehmann, Cornell professor of soil and crop sciences, co-author of the Perspectives piece, “Climate-smart Soils,” published in Nature, April 6.

Decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon and using prudent agricultural management practices that tighten the soil-nitrogen cycle can yield enhanced soil fertility, bolster crop productivity, improve soil biodiversity, and reduce erosion, runoff and water pollution. These practices also buffer crop and pasture systems against the impacts of climate change.

Read the whole article

Visit the Cornell Climate Change website for more information on Agriculture and Climate Change

Promotions for Smart, Fazio

Larry Smart

Larry Smart

Larry Smart has been promoted to Professor effective April 1. Smart is based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, in Geneva, N.Y., where his lab focuses on breeding, genetics, genomics, and physiology of shrub willow bioenergy crops.   He is the co-leader of a recently funded $1 million USDA-DOE grant looking at shrub willow rust-resistance, and part of the team for the Cornell Climate Plan Reflections project funded by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Academic Venture Fund. Visit the Willowpedia website for more information about Smart’s work.

Gennaro Fazio

Gennaro Fazio

Gennaro Fazio, Research Geneticist with the USDA-ARS, Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) in Geneva, N.Y., and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Horticulture Section has been promoted to GS14 in the ARS career ladder system.

Fazio joined PGRU in 2001 and since then has been leading the joint USDA-ARS and Cornell University Apple Rootstock Breeding Program. He is internationally recognized as a breeder and developer of several Geneva® apple rootstocks. Under his leadership, production of the first highly productive apple rootstocks resistant to fire blight and wooly apple aphid and replant-tolerant went from a few thousand per year in 2001 to 6 million in 2015. That effort earned the team both the USDA-ARS 2014 North Atlantic Area Technology Transfer Award and the 2015 Federal Laboratory Consortium “Excellence in Technology Transfer” award.

Fazio has been consulted by scientific and industry representatives from all over the world engaged in the application of rootstock technologies. He has authored or co-authored 47 peer reviewed publications and produced 18 issued plant patents or plant breeder’s rights and authored or co-authored 14 publications in trade journals.

Congratulations Larry and Gennaro!

Cornell Biochar/Bioenergy Conference April 15

biochar Photo: UC Davis Biochar Database

Photo: UC Davis Biochar Database

From Jingjing Yin, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Horticulture Section:

We invite everyone with an interest in biochar to attend the first Cornell-wide biochar conference organized by the project team Best use practices for improving soil health and vegetable growth in organic farming using on-site produced biochar on April 15, 9 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. in 135 Emerson Hall.

The program will include  talks from invited speakers, a panel discussion, and poster displays, followed by a tour of the Leland pyrolysis kiln at from 3 to 4 p.m.  The event is free and open to the Cornell community and is sponsored by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

If you would like to attend, present a poster, or have other questions, please contact Jingjing Yin ( or Neil Mattson (, or visit the conference website.

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