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Field Crops and Forages

Field Crops and Forages Research

The following is a sampling of research projects relevant to field crop and forage growers. If you have a specific interest that is not addressed here, contact Tim Setter, Chair, Department of Crop and Soil Science, 607-255-5459, tls1@cornell.edu
Click on a title below to navigate to the specific project.
CORNELL SMALL GRAINS PROJECT | CORNELL NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT SPEAR PROGRAM  | WEED SEED MANAGEMENT | BIOCHAR APPLICATIONS | SELECTION AND SEED PRODUCTION FOR VARIETIES OF BREAD WHEAT, SPELT, EMMER, AND EINKORN ADAPTED TO ORGANIC SYSTEMS | FORAGE BREEDING PROJECT | Extension Resources
 
CORNELL SMALL GRAINS PROJECT

The Cornell Small Grains Project has a long history of developing innovative approaches to crop improvement. Research uses a range of technologies including molecular genetics, physiology, pathology, and breeding to develop improved varieties for the northeast.Currently, this project utilizes grants from the USDA Organic and Research Extension Initiative (OREI) and Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education to evaluate heritage and ancient grains under organic management.  OREI is building a mobile grain processing unit, connecting producers with NYC Farmers Markets, and conducting an economic analysis of the markets for organic specialty grains. Several of the best-performing grains will be evaluated for flavor and quality.
 
Top Impact from Work Thus Far: Evaluated more than 100 different grains under organic management in 2012.
Duration: Sept 1, 2011 – August 31, 2015 and Sept 1, 2012 – August 31, 2014
 
Project Leader(s): Mark E. Sorrells, 607-255-2180 (Main Office),  607 255-1665 (Lab), mes12@cornell.edu
 
Project Partners: Margaret Smith, Gary Bergstrom, Bill Cox
 
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: Superior small grains varieties for both conventional and organic production.
 
Funding Source(s): USDA NIIFA, SARE, Hatch
 
For More Information: Visit Mark Sorrells’ faculty website http://plbrgen.cals.cornell.edu/cals/pbg/people/faculty.cfm

CORNELL NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT SPEAR PROGRAM

The goal of this research program is to improve understanding of nutrient release and risk for runoff and leaching losses from inorganic and organic amendments as affected by soil type, hydrology, time and rate of application, and the use of specific soil and fertilizer amendments. Publications and research information are  available at the program website: http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu Duration: Ongoing
 
Project Leader(s): Quirine Ketterings, 607 255-3061, qmk2@cornell.edu
 
Project Partners: Numerous statewide collaborators
 
Funding Source(s): USDA NIIFA, SARE, Hatch

WEED SEED MANAGEMENT

Farmers often have opportunities for reducing the input of weed seeds to the soil by actions either during crop production or after harvest.  However, weeds often continue to develop seeds even after the plant is killed.  The objective of this project is to determine the developmental stage at which various weed species are able to mature seeds after the plant is killed.  Six common weed species will be terminated at three growth stages and by three methods: cutting at the base of the plant, chopping up the plant, treating the plant with glyphosate (Roundup). This research will determine the point at which each species must be killed to prevent seed development. Duration: Oct. 2011-2016
 
Project Leader(s): Charles Mohler, 607-255-0199, clm11@cornell.edu
 
Project Partners: Robin Bellinder, Russel Hahn, Antonio DiTommaso
 
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: Results will provide information for farmers to more efficiently manage weed populations.
 
Funding Source(s): MultiState Hatch

BIOCHAR APPLICATIONS

Biochar is a charcoal-like product that is now offered for sale to improve soil properties. Biochar can also be produced from farm, crop, and food residues. This project evaluates what soil and environmental constraints can be addressed with different types of biochar. Possible benefits applicable to small farms in the Northeastern US  include improved infiltration or water retention depending on the soil texture, reduced need for compost application in organic farms for reasons of improved tilth, reduced disease incidents, or accelerated composting with lower nitrogen losses. Duration: Ongoing
 
Project Leader(s): Johannes Lehmann, 607-254-1236, cl273@cornell.edu
 
Project Partners: Janice Thies, Todd Walter, Anthony May, Eric Nelson, Stone Barns Farm
 
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: Information pertinent to the applicability and utility of biochar in soils
 
Funding Source(s): USDA Hatch, TSF

FARM-BASED SELECTION AND SEED PRODUCTION FOR VARIETIES OF BREAD WHEAT, SPELT, EMMER, AND EINKORN ADAPTED TO ORGANIC SYSTEMS IN THE NORTHEAST

There is growing interest in producing bread wheat, spelt, emmer and einkorn in the Northeast; however there are very few sources of organic seed, and most varieties of these crops are either developed for conventional systems or for different ecological regions such as the Midwestern or Western US and Canada. This project proposes to address these related problems by providing training in seed production to organic growers in New England, NY and PA, and by starting the process of developing varieties adapted to organic agriculture in this region through on-farm selection with experienced organic farmers.Information from ongoing projects evaluating existing varieties under organic conditions in the Northeast and discussions with farmers will be used to determine priorities for seed production and deciding on parents for developing breeding populations. Certified seed production workshops for organic growers will be conducted in the first two years of the project, and technical support will be provided to farmers interested in producing organic certified seed of varieties identified as top performers for agronomic performance and quality in previous Northeast SARE and OREI projects.
 
Top Impact from Work Thus Far: Widespread dispersion of information concerning organic seed growing methodology
Duration: Ongoing
 
Project Leader(s): Mark Sorrells, mes12@cornell.edu
 
Project Partners: See sare.org for complete list
 
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: Increased organic crop seed production throughout the Northeast
 
Funding Source(s): SARE, grant # LNE12-318
 
For More Information: http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewProj&pn=LNE12-318

FORAGE BREEDING PROJECT

The Forage Breeding Project develops varieties of alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil for higher forage yield and quality and for multiple disease and insect resistances. The project also investigates switchgrass and other warm season grasses for the emerging biofuel industry. New varieties of perennial forage species are evaluated at various locations across New York to provide yield data to farmers, extension educators, and the seed industry.
 
Top Impact from Work Thus Far: N-R-Gee, a new alfalfa variety, is the first variety bred for a higher concentration of pectin, translating to better conversion of forage protein for more efficient milk production. Due to  N-R-Gee’s increased digestibility, more protein goes into milk production and less protein goes through the animal.
Duration: Ongoing
 
Project Leader(s): Donald R. Viands, 607-255-3081, drv3@cornell.edu
 
Project Partners: Dr. Julie Hansen, Dr. Gary Bergstrom, Dr. Elson Shields, Brian Richards, Mike Hunter, Joe Lawrence, Dr. Paul Salon, Doug Shelmidine, Brian True
 
Potential Benefits for Small Farms: New forage varieties may lower feed inputs by allowing small farmers to produce abundant, high quality forage, thus enhancing economic vitality of livestock operations. Yield data provide farmers with information needed to select forage varieties that will perform well in their operations.
 
Funding Source(s): Federal Hatch funds through the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, New York Farm Viability Institute, Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, USDA-NIFA, US Department of Energy, Seed royalties, Fees from companies for variety yield evaluations
 
For more information: http://plbrgen.cals.cornell.edu/cals/forage/index.cfm

 

Field Crops and Forages Extension Resources

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Cornell’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences provides extension support in the following areas: Composting, Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab, Crop Production, Disease Management, GIS and Remote Sensing, Forages, Pest Management, Precision Agriculture, Nutrient Management, Soil Conservations, Waste Management, and Weed Management | http://css.cals.cornell.edu/
Cornell Small Farms Program
The Cornell Small Farms Program maintains current resources pertaining to field crops and forages..  Visit www.smallfarms.cornell.edu and click on Resources  > Production > Field Crops & Forages
Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program
The goal of this extension program is to improve grower and agricultural industry awareness of crop nutrient needs, crop quality, management of organic amendments, environmentally sound nutrient management practices, and overall soil fertility management in the state of New York.
Publications and research information are available at the program website: http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu. For more information, contact: Quirine Ketterings, Department of Animal Sciences, 607 255-3061, qmk2@cornell.edu
Forage-Livestock Systems at Cornell
Forage-Livestock Systems focus on interdisciplinary basic and applied research on forages and the animals that consume them. Forage crops are one of the few resources that can be converted to food while sustaining and restoring our soil, water and atmosphere. Contact: Jerry Cherney, Department of Crop & Soil Sciences, 607-255-0945, jhc5@cornell.edu Website: http://forages.org/
Cornell Soil Health
The goal of the Cornell Soil Health Program is to identify critical soil problems hindering profitability and sustainability in the Northeast, develop appropriate management solutions, and work with growers to incorporate new, beneficial practices. Contact: George Abawi, Co-chair, Department of Plant Pathology, gsa1@cornell.edu or David Wolfe, Co-chair, Department of Horticulture, dww5@cornell.edu Website: http://soilhealth.cals.cornell.edu/people/index.htm
 

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