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Current Integrated Research and Outreach Initiatives

American elms represent some of the most culturally and economically significant urban trees. Their contributions to the urban landscape are numerous and include: carbon sequestration, capture of storm water and airborne particulate matter, reduced heating and cooling costs through wind buffering and shade and enhanced aesthetics with their large, sweeping canopies. Prior to the introduction of Dutch Elm Disease, American elms dominated the urban and suburban landscape because of their beauty, rapid growth rates and ability to tolerate difficult growing conditions.

Despite the devastating effects of the disease, millions of American elms still occupy the urban and forest landscape today. But, after decades of regular injection the costs associated with these treatments are adversely impacting tree heath and this issue must be addressed. The UMass Shade Tree Laboratory, now the Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, was founded in 1935 with the sole purpose of combating the DED epidemic. Now, 80 years later the fight against this destructive disease continues in ways that could never be predicted decades ago.

Improving water management is of increasing importance in horticultural operations. A growing global population and changes in water availability will mean that less water will be available for ornamental plant production.  In order to help growers improve their irrigation practices, the current state of nursery production in New England needs to be assessed in order to identify key areas for improvement.

Phytophthora species consistently rank as some of the most devastating disease agents in Massachusetts farms. Two species, P. infestans and P. capsici, attack regionally important vegetable crops, including cucurbits, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. In 2009, an outbreak of P. infestans in the northern United States and eastern Canada devastated tomato and potato crops. Current disease forecasting models for Phytophthora have been developed for use over large areas, and do not incorporate case-history information or site-level monitoring. While these forecasting models have enormous utility, they cannot provide the resolution required to adequately predict disease outbreaks at the farm-scale in Massachusetts. The most fundamental component for an effective risk map, and often the most difficult to obtain, is accurate data on the current distribution of the targeted pathogen. Without this foundation, risk maps cannot accurately predict where and how a pathogen may spread and management plans often fail to meet their objectives. This project will develop a system for gathering data at a farm-scale level.

The Acid Rain Monitoring Project began at the University of Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center in 1983. The project's mission was initially to develop a comprehensive picture of the sensitivity of Massachusetts surface waters to acid deposition, and later evolved to determine long-term trends in this sensitivity.

The UMass Amherst Blackstone River Water Quality Study was initiated in 2004 to develop a watershed management tool for the Blackstone River basin.

This project will link fluvial geomorphology to New England-specific climate, landscape, ecology, population, and infrastructure to develop best management practices for flood prevention. Also, it will uncover challenges and constraints caused by distinct jurisdictional and institutional fragmentation, highlighting successful strategies for overcoming these. The extension aspect will take this much-needed scientific and institutional knowledge and disseminate it among towns, government officials, landowners, businesses, environmental organizations, road crews, and others.

This project aims to increase the skills, productivity or safety practices of small-scale Massachusetts food producers or food processors. The long term goal is the reduction of produce-related foodborne illness.

This study will examine the influence of policy and outreach efforts on residents' adoption of water conservation and storm water strategies in the residential landscapes of the Ipswich and Parker River watershed north of Boston. It will trace watershed conservation measures from policy incentives to impact so as to develop a clearer picture of the relationship between local policy and outreach efforts, and actual decisions to engage and install residential landscape water conservation practices.