M.S. Agronomy, Cornell University, 2016.
B.S. Biochemistry, & B.A. International Studies, West Virginia University, 2011.
University of Natural Resources & Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, 2010.
Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, 2009.
My work explores how crop diversification enhances the resilience of farms in the face of extreme weather events. I understand a farm as a social-ecological system, meaning farm decisions are shaped by the farmer’s knowledge networks, the rules and regulations of the agricultural system, and the kind of technology a farmer has adopted. Farms that generate more ecosystem services have a relative advantage over other farms in their ability to absorb and adapt to extreme weather events. Crop diversification practices allow a farm to be more multi-functional and generate more ecosystem services.
I approach my research in the context of dairy farmers in the Northeast. Fortunately, producing feed for dairy production allows many kinds of crop diversification practices that other cropping systems do not. I am interested in intercropping (planting more than one species together at the same time), double-cropping (harvesting two or more annual crops in one year), and crop rotations.
What kind of crop diversification practices are farmers doing and where do they go for information? The credo ‘meet people where they are’ is true for strategizing pathways for adoption of crop diversification practices. I conduct interviews with organic and conventional dairy farmers in New York. I examine the knowledge networks using social network analysis to understand if and how these types of farms access information differently. I also understand what kind of crop diversification practices these farmers implement.
What kind of, and how much, crop diversification does one need? Parts of my work explore the effects of crop diversification practices in terms of crop performance, yield stability, changes in weed pressure, and forage quality. I want to understand trends that help us understand what degree of diversification provides benefits. A four-year forage experiment was carried out in New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont where we measured the effect of intraspecific (different varieties), and interspecific (different species), and intra- and interspecific diversity on three crops: winter annuals, summer annuals, and perennial crops.
How can agro-ecological science advance? Before farms became so mechanized and specialized, farmers had a great deal of knowledge about diversification practices. A lot of these practices live on in folklore, traditions, and rules of thumb. With a growing body of scientific literature on agro-ecology, institutions can and must provide more precise recommendations for diversification practices. I have built a framework to construct cover crop mixtures for greater multifunctionality by leveraging the seeding rates of each species. By understanding the competitive traits of the species, we can predict how they might grow with other species and optimize mixtures so that each species is present in the mixture and not outcompeted.
Bybee-Finley, KA and MR Ryan. 2018. Advancing intercropping research and practices in industrialized agricultural landscapes. Agriculture. 8:80.
Bybee-Finley, KA, SB Mirsky, and MR Ryan. 2017. Crop biomass not species richness drives weed suppression in warm-season annual grass-legume intercrops in the Northeast. Weed Science 65:669-680.
Bybee-Finley, KA, Mirsky, S.B., and Ryan, M.R. (2016) Functional Diversity in SummerAnnual Grass and Legume Intercrops in the Northeastern United States. Crop Science 56.5: 2775-2790.
Quinio, M, M de Waele, F Dessaint, L Biju-Duval, M Buthiot, E Cadet, AK Bybee-Finley, J Guillemin, S Cordeau. 2017. Separating the confounding effects of farming practices on weeds and winter wheat production using path modelling. European Journal of Agronomy (82), 134-143.
Moslonks-Lefebvre, M., Finley, AK, Dorigatti, I., Dehnen-Schmutz, K., Harwood, T., Jeger, M., Xu, X., Holdenrieder, O., Pautasso, M. (2011). Networks in Plant Epidemiology: From Genes to Landscapes, Countries, and Continents. Phytopathology Review 101: 392-403. doi:10.1094/ PHYTO-07-10-0192.