October 19, 2020 by Debra E. Marvin | Comments Off on New Perennial Crops for Weed Suppression and Carbon Sequestration
by Bryan Brown, PhD
Farmers tell me all the time – “If only my crops could grow like weeds!” Well that’s just what happened to Jonathan Bates, owner of Food Forest Farm, who noticed that some of his edible perennial plants were taking over his garden. These are big and robust plants that smother our usual weeds – perfect for low-maintenance gardens. So he starting cutting back these plants and selling the rootstock online.
Jonathan Bates holds a leaf of a princess tree, a plant that provides high-nitrogen forage through fall leaf drop. He uses this plant to provide shade in livestock pastures.
Excited by the idea of crops that outcompete weeds, I recently toured the farm with Jonathan. He showed me thick stands of edible perennial brassicas like horseradish, sea kale, and Turkish rocket; thriving carrot-family perennials like skirret and giant Korean celery; and leguminous plants like wild senna, Illinois bundleflower, and Astragalus that serve as high-nitrogen forage for livestock while also providing pollinator resources and building soil fertility.
No weeds there! Several edible perennial brassicas show promise as robust weed suppressive crops.
A huge advantage with perennials is that you don’t have to rototill the ground every year to prepare for planting. That has big benefits aside from being a labor-saver. Any time the soil is tilled, it accelerates decomposition of organic matter and loss of carbon to the atmosphere. Whereas perennial plantings serve as a carbon sink by sequestering atmospheric carbon into plant tissue that eventually becomes soil organic matter. Such “carbon farming” is starting to become big business as a means to forestall climate change.
With so many benefits to these perennial crops, I think it’s just a matter of time before we see more farmers start growing them – and we start seeing them on our dinner plates!
September 22, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Cover Crop’s Double Success for Soybeans
Mature fields of grain crops moving in the wind is a lovely sight. Having admired the beauty of ‘cereal rye’ in a field, I asked NYSIPM Integrated Weed Management Specialist Dr. Bryan Brown if rye has been part of successful weed suppression efforts.
iMapInvasives has put out a call for help and we’re happy to do our bit. Check out this citizen science project looking at increasing the amount of information regarding invasive species throughout New York. Written by Mitchell O’Neill, End User Support Specialist for iMapInvasives.
There is one more weekend in the 5th Annual Invasive Species Mapping Challenge – ending Wednesday July 15th! Join this citizen science effort to fill data gaps for four key invasive species in New York State’s official invasive species database, iMapInvasives. The species are jumping worm, tree-of-heaven, water chestnut, and European frogbit – which have wide-ranging impacts on land and water resources, agriculture, gardening, and recreation.
In this webinar, the iMapInvasive’s team cover the identification of these species and how you can participate.
Did we mention there are prizes for each species? Here is one example.
Great data has come in over the past 2 weeks, but it’s still very much anyone’s challenge! The top contributor for each of the four species wins a prize!
I encourage you to go out and search for invasives this weekend – remember to record not-detected records if you search for one of the species in its habitat but did not find it. View our webinar on identifying these species and reporting them to iMapInvasives here. Please email email@example.com with any questions!
Be sure to check the leaderboard to watch your name rise to the top as you record observations!
June 24, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Pollinator Friendly… Lawns?
“The dandelions and buttercups gild all the lawn: the drowsy bee stumbles among the clover tops, and summer sweetens all to me.” – James Russell Lowell
Dandelions, clover, and many other lawn weeds can help sustain pollinators.
It’s Pollinator Week, a week dedicated to halting and reversing the decline in pollinator populations and recognizing the valuable service they provide.
There are plenty of resources out there to create pollinator gardens and meadows. NYSIPM biocontrol specialist Amara Dunn has been documented an ongoing project trying to create habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects to help support agricultural systems in her blog, Biocontrol Bytes. Head over and check out her efforts.
But what about places that can’t allow tall vegetation because of space, inability to weed areas, or aesthetics? Lindsey Christiansen, CCE Albany and I decided to explore the recommendation to create pollinator friendly lawns.
But Lindsey and I were wondering if there was a more formal way to create a pollinator friendly lawn. We searched out and found a number of seed mixes and a project was born.
“The best laid plans of mice and men…” – Robert Burns
While fall is a great time to put down seed, we solidified our plans in October, leaving us with little time. We decided to spend the remainder of autumn prepping the plots and wait until winter to put the seed down through dormant overseeding. We laid out three rows of 100 sq.ft. plots. The first row was scalped by running the CCE lawn tractor over it at its lowest height of cut. The second row was stripped using a sod cutter, and the third row was aerified multiple times using a core aerifier to break up the soil and create open soil.
The demonstration project was established in an unused part of the CCE Albany property which allows for road visibility.
Two rows were prepped using a sod cutter and aerifier rented from a local hardware store.
Removing sod cut with a sod cutter is much easier when you have good turf. The weedy lawn proved a challenge to remove.
And then it was time to wait. Ideally, we would have a stretch of bare ground in March with a few inches of snow in the forecast. So we waited. And waited some more. But it was a winter that wasn’t and as the forecast showed above average temperatures into the future, we decided to scatter the seed on March 6 with hopes that winter would provide a last gasp.
Five seed mixes were chosen for the demonstration project. For dormant overseeding, it is recommended that you double the rate, but we were sometimes restricted by the amount of seed we could purchase within our budget.
Snow cover on the dormant overseeded plots.
Winter finally threw us a bone on March 24th. The theory behind dormant overseeding is the weight of the snow pushes the seed close to the soil and as it melts into the soil, it draws the seed down with it through capillary action. The snow also protects the seed from predation. We can only guess how much seed to we lost to birds over those weeks.
And then it was time to wait again. And we were waiting in our homes due to the shutdown. So it was exciting to visit the site in early June and find baby blue eyes, dwarf California poppy, and sweet alyssum in bloom. The plot we were most worried about due to the small rate of application had the most visual pop.
The sod cut plot seeded with Alternative Lawn Wildflower Seed Mix was the most dramatic despite having the lightest rate of application.
And there were pollinators!
Solarization is an IPM technique using the sun to create high temperatures to kill existing vegetation.
We also started a fourth row, this time using solarization to prep the site. Plastic sheeting heats up the soil, killing existing plants and the seedlings of any weed seeds that germinate over the summer. We will keep the sheeting in place until it’s time to seed in the fall.
The recent hot, dry weather has not helped with establishment and there’s not currently much going on in the plots. So we are back to waiting and seeing.
And crossing our fingers that the forecast holds and we get rain by the weekend.
At the end of June, after a week of heat and humidity but no rain, there is not much flowering except for birdsfoot trefoil. For the record, birdsfoot trefoil was not in any of our seed mixes.
Many thanks to Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County for use of the site, Lindsey Christiansen for her partnership and strong back (and for checking my math), and Matt Warnken for scalping, hauling, sod cutting, photographing, and basically making himself indispensable.
May 1, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 In the Weeds and For the Birds
Herbicide resistant weeds. Got ‘em? Worried about ‘em? There are some bad ones out there. Some of the baddest in New York are horseweed, waterhemp, and Palmer amaranth. A result of repeated exposure to the same chemical sprays, these plants have given us all a lesson on the power of selection pressure. The crisis brought about by these super-tough weeds motivated NYSIPM to hire an integrated weed management specialist to help growers find a diverse blend of solutions. So what can be done? Instead of relying on herbicides alone, use the ‘many little hammers’ approach: attack weeds with a variety of tactics such as stacked cultivation—a mechanical method that undercuts, uproots, and then buries weeds. Because precision is key in stacked cultivation, GPS and camera guidance help keep tools in line. That’s the difference between destroying your weeds or your crop. What’s next? We’re providing input on the design of robots able to distinguish between the weeds and the crop—aka autonomous weed control. And we’re helping test an electric WeedZapper that has already demonstrated its effectiveness against horseweed. By integrating the latest technology with the oldest, IPM offers growers the many little hammers they need to create a resilient, robust weed management system for their farm.
(Above) Will waterhemp win? Facing a 56% decreased yield in this waterhemp-infested soybean field, NYSIPM’s Integrated Weed Management Specialist, Bryan Brown, leads a project funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute. This herbicide-resistant weed can grow an inch a day, and is an impressive seed producer. Through diversified approaches, the project has provided complete control of waterhemp in some trial sites, prompting 94% of attendees at field events to say they’ll follow the lead of this project and modify their tactics for weed control.
Anthraquinones are for the Birds
What do crows, ravens, blackbirds, starlings, grackles, Canada geese, gulls, and wild turkeys all have in common? They’re recurring pests of corn on New York farms, pulling seedlings out of the soil as soon as they emerge. Stony soils, and shallow and no-till plantings are most at risk.What’s a grower to do? Traditionally they lived with the losses, or replanted if there was time. One New York farmer was ready to quit until trying Avipel Shield, the biopesticide seed treatment containing anthraquinone, an extract found in rhubarb and many other plants. Apparently, birds don’t like it. So after a few nibbles of treated seed, they move on and look elsewhere for food. NYSIPM set out to test whether anthraquinone worked in fields that suffer major bird damage. Along with extension specialists in eight counties, we conducted trials on treated and untreated seeds in fields that typically suffer heavy loss to birds. Three years of data confirmed Avipel leaves a bad taste in birds’ mouths. Further trials will help farmers know whether treated seed is needed everywhere every year, or if random use can deter feeding. Meanwhile, these tasty results have been a hot topic at field meetings, crop congresses, and certified crop advisor trainings throughout the state.
(Above) Fully fledged. Field Crops & Livestock IPM Extension Educator Ken Wise believes this project’s secondary success was its considerable collaboration. Funding came from three different sources over the three-year period—NYSIPM, NYS Corn Growers Association, and the NYS Farm Viability Institute. Just as important was the partnership among 11 farmers, nine extension educators, and one faculty member
March 27, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Highlights from the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo
Weeding tools have come a long way! Last summer, Eric Gallandt invited me to present the results of my latest “stacked” cultivation trials at the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo. I brought my camera along to document the exciting exhibits by vendors and other researchers. Stacked cultivation featured prominently, as did enhanced accuracy – achieved through improved steering capability or camera-guided tools.
(Above) KULT Kress demonstrated their camera guided sweeps and finger weeders (only one row operating). These weeds were too large for optimal finger weeder performance. In-row weeds are most effectively controlled when less than one inch tall.
(above) The camera guidance system display was brought out from the tractor cab to show participants how it focuses on green plants to determine the location of the crop row.
(above) HAK showcased a new cultivating tractor with sweeps (left), finger weeders (center), and tines for the wheel tracks (right).
(above) Steketee brought their Crumbler Rotors (left), finger weeders (center), and side knives (right).
(above) The cultivating tractor from Tilmor is reminiscent of the Allis Chalmers G, but notice the new crane-winch system for moving tools into place.
(above) Tilmor also demonstrated a walk-behind tractor with a potential “stacked” cultivation setup.
(above) Jen Goff, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, showcased several innovative wheel hoes and hand tools.
(above) Ellen Mallory PhD, and Tom Molloy from UMaine discuss their results testing the potential of the CombCut and inter-row hoeing in small grains.
(above) “Stacking” cultivation tools is not just for vegetable crops, this combination has proved effective in small grains.
(above) Slow-motion-video of camera-guided hoeing in a small grain. This practice is gaining popularity in Europe but is still uncommon in the United States.
(below) The futuristic “Tertill” from Franklin Robotics. This solar-powered weeding robot attacks weeds with a string trimmer on its belly and it senses crop plants based on their height. I can’t believe this is now on the market! Flying cars will be next!
March 4, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Summary of Stacked Cultivation Trials in New York
Using several different cultivation implements at once, or “stacking” tools, can improve weed control effectiveness. From my work at the University of Maine, Eric Gallandt and I showed that certain cultivation tools work synergistically together, particularly those combinations that undercut, then uproot, then bury weeds. Unfortunately crop damage was high in the trial results from Maine. So in New York, I made some adjustments to be gentler on the crop – wider spacing between tools, removed center tines on the row harrow, and tested a new hiller to bury weeds without contacting the crop (Figure 1). And GPS guidance was a big improvement too!
Figure 1. Cultivation implements used in these trials were A) sweeps, B) finger weeders (yellow and row harrow (blue), and C) a disk hiller. For full explanation of implement adjustments and trial methods, see the project report at https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/64539
Figure 2. Results of cultivation trials in snap beans. This was the first cultivation event following planting and tillage. At cultivation, snap beans were 6” tall, while weeds were 0.5” tall in 2018 and 1” tall in 2019.
Figure 3. Results of cultivation trials in beets. First cultivation occurred at either the 2-leaf stage or about one week later at the 4-leaf stage. 2019 beets trials were planted in the spring, whereas 2018 beets were planted late-summer, with lower-growing winter annual weeds present.
Overall, the adjustments made in these trials greatly reduced crop damage while weed control remained high. I was most impressed with the stacked combo of sweeps plus fingers plus disk hillers, which consistently controlled the greatest percentage of weeds. These results also demonstrate that in-row cultivation should not be conducted prior to the 4-leaf stage in beets. For more information on integrated weed management, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. This project was supported by a USDA NIFA CPPM.
February 12, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on The Soybean and Small Grains Congress
On February 5th and 6th, Bryan Brown and Jaime Cummings of the NYSIPM Program presented their latest findings to the farmers, agricultural consultants and agribusiness associates attending the Soybean and Small Grains Congress meetings in Batavia, NY and Waterloo, NY.
Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator Jaime Cummings
This event was sponsored by the Northwest Dairy, livestock and Field Crops Team, an outstanding regional agriculture program from Cornell Cooperative Extension serving a nine-county region in western New York. The team’s specialists work together with Cornell faculty and extension educators statewide to provide service to the farms large and small whether dairy, livestock, hay, corn, wheat or soybean focused. They are part of the Cornell CALS’ Pro-Dairy program outreach.
Caption: NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team counties
On Wednesday, February 5th, the meeting took place in Batavia. Besides NYSIPM staff, presenters included Mike Stanyard (CCE NYNY Team), Dennis Pennington (Small Grains Specialist from Michigan State University), Gary Bergstrom (Cornell University Plant Pathologist), Jodi Putnam (Field Crops Specialist from CCE), Mike Helms (Pesticide Management Education Program, Cornell University), and Dan Wixted, (Pesticide Management Education Program, Cornell University). With such experienced trainers as these, attendees heard valuable information that will serve them well once the 2020 field season begins.
Bryan Brown shared his recent research trial on managing waterhemp in soybeans. Effective Programs for Controlling Waterhemp in Soybeans
Dr. Bryan Brown speaks about his work reducing weeds in soybeans.
Jaime Cummings presented her research survey results on biocontrol use of a parasitoid on the cereal leaf beetle. Cereal Leaf Beetle: History, Biology, Management and Biocontrol
On Thursday, February 6th, the same team of presenters spoke to an audience in Waterloo, NY.
Congratulations Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field CropsTeam. Their educational programs and individual assistance cover a wide area of best management practices and as well as dairy farm business. For dairy farms, a bilingual dairy specialist provides producers with employee training and human resource facilitation in Spanish. Educational and support venues range from on individual farm management team meetings and troubleshooting to multi-day classroom and hands-on training and from ongoing farmer group discussion meetings to thematic day long symposia.
As to the success of this year’s S&SG Congress? Mike Stanyard shared this: I want to thank all of you for making the 2020 S&SG Congresses a success! It was a very well-rounded program and I have received plenty of comments about the quality of the presentations. I know the growers took home some very valuable information.
Mike Stanyard (Ph.D.) CCE, NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team
Photos: Ken Wise
December 31, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on NYS IPM’s Best of 2019
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard
Each year, NYS IPM staff are busy blogging about relevant topics. Here’s a recap of some of our more popular 2019 offerings:
ThinkIPM is our catchall blog and a great way to keep a pulse on what’s happening in New York State IPM.
No one wants to find an embedded tick.
We have spent a lot of time in the past year talking about how to prevent tick bites, from dressing in long pants, using repellents, and conducting daily tick checks. But sometimes one gets past you and you discover that new lump behind your knee has legs. There are always question about what to do next, and Help! I found a tick on me! was the most popular 2019 blog post.
Spotted lanternfly distribution map as of November 2019
Spotted lanternfly was also on your mind, and Traveling for the Holidays? provided a checklist for those traveling within the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone. Trust us when we say that you do not want to unintentionally transport Spotted Lanternfly egg masses in New York state.
Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:
The most popular Biocontrol Bytes offering was a guest post from our collegues in the Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Anna Wallis, Kerik Cox, and Mei-Wah Cho. They discussed moving beyond antibiotics to the use of biopesticides in the post, Battling Fire Blight with Biologicals.
Thursday September 26th was the Planting for Beneficial Habitat Twilight meeting. Attendees learned how habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects show good stewardship of the land. Dr. Dunn explained several methods of establishment, the benefits of hosting pollinators and other beneficial insects, and their impact as biological control.
Dr. Amara Dunn speaks with Cooperative Extension visitors.
Evergreen plantings on the NYSIPM plot, Cornell Agritech Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm
Does adding beneficial habitat reduce pest pressure on Christmas tree plots? We hope to find out.
Despite stormy skies, the Twilight Event was a success
Brian Eshenaur and Amara Dunn address attendees of the Twilight Meeting
Keuka College students in Dr. Bill Brown’s Animal Diversity class compare pairs of insect samples. Dr. Betsy Lamb invited them to hypothesize differences in collected insects at varying locations within the plots, and at different times of the year.
Thank you to all who helped make these teaching events possible!