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News from the Center

Confronting New England's Legacy of Devastating Floods: River-Smart Recommendations
Eve Vogel and Christine Hatch at Deerfield River for release of River Smart Report
Dec 5, 2016

On a quiet Friday afternoon in early December, two UMass Amherst professors, authors of the just-released booklet Supporting Communities to Become River-Smart, discussed their policy recommendations with a gathering of planners, state officials from Massachusetts and Vermont, community members and others. Celebrating the new publication at a location alongside the Deerfield River in Shelburne Falls, site of significant flood damage during Hurricane Irene in 2011, seemed particularly appropriate.

Eve Vogel, UMass associate professor of geography and lead researcher, along with Christine Hatch, extension assistant professor of geology, shared five target policies from the new 90-page report, “Supporting Communities to Become River-Smart.”

UMass Amherst Turfgrass Expert Wins National Honor
Dec 1, 2016

Dr. Pat Vittum, award-winning turf expert The Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA) has named Patricia Vittum, associate director of the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment and professor in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a 2017 recipient of its Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award, the first woman to receive it in the organization’s history. It recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding and significant contribution in both substance and duration to the advancement of the golf course superintendent’s profession. Vittum and two other honorees will be formally recognized at the 2017 Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando in February.

Teens Kick-Off Year of Envirothon on UMass Campus
Joe Perry's workshop about tree identification
Nov 21, 2016

On a warm morning in November, coaches and teams of students from 18 Massachusetts high schools arrived on the UMass Amherst campus to get started on this year’s “Envirothon.” The 210 students came from across the state to attend a full day of environmental workshops to prepare for the 2017 Massachusetts Envirothon competition. Students participating in the Envirothon process across North America focus on one current issue for the year; for 2017 the topic is agricultural soil and water conservation. Considering our severe drought this year--connected to the ability of soil to retain limited water-- this issue is certainly timely here in Massachusetts.

UMass Vegetable Winter School: A New Workshop Series
 onions drying in greenhouse
Nov 15, 2016

The University of Massachusetts is rolling out a new workshop series designed specifically for vegetable farm owners, managers and employees. UMass Vegetable Winter School kicks off on January 10, 2017, with two main goals:  to provide education that will help farmers with regulatory compliance and to improve efficiency and overall farm management. This ‘one-stop shopping’ option will allow farmers to learn about and begin to implement many of their regulatory needs at once. 

Managing Phosphorous (P) in Organic Residuals Applied to Soils
Dr. John Spargo, Director, Agricultural Analytical Services Lab, Penn State University answers a question during the Q&A session at the conference
Nov 7, 2016

Responding to the increased need for education on the science behind soil phosphorus, how phosphorus works with organic residuals applied to soils, and the protection of precious water resources, UMass Amherst Extension Agriculture and Commercial Horticulture Program organized and presented a full-day symposium in Marlborough on November 2. Over 140 regulatory officials, scientists, agricultural producers, turf and grounds management professionals, industry experts, and organic residuals distributors participated. 

How About Them Apples?
Linda MacIntosh variety
Sep 21, 2016

Location, location, location. Apparently, this factor for success applies to both real estate and apple trees. Considering the many challenges that fruit tree growers faced during the summer of 2016 with a decimated peach crop and extended drought, at least there is good news for apple aficionados. Jon Clements, UMass Extension educator and fruit specialist, keeps a close watch on orchards across the state. He said, “The overall crop in Massachusetts is down about 20% from average, but it varies widely from orchard to orchard.

Worried About Watering Your Lawn in the Drought?
Drought resistant cultivar lower right corner
Sep 1, 2016

At UMass’s Joseph Troll Turf Research Center in South Deerfield, the researchers are doing some of the worrying for you. When most people they drive by the Research Center, what they see is a lush green lawn. What they may not realize is that these 20 green acres are home to an extensive field of research that many of us benefit from without even knowing it. The primary focus of UMass research at the Research Center is the conservation and protection of one of our most precious natural resources: water.

Curbing the Spread of Clubroot Disease in Nepal
Clubroot gall in Nepal
Aug 23, 2016

Rob Wick, professor of plant pathology and nematology in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, was invited by USAID and Winrock (a leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on agricultural issues) to help farmers curb clubroot disease of brassica crops in Nepal. Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease that affects brassica crops. Farmers cannot easily eliminate this disease, but they can learn methods for controlling the spread of infested plants and soil. This is a serious growing issue that needs systematic intervention and Wick was tapped to help them.

“Your Future Starts Now": A New 4-H Collaboration
Your Future Starts Now Team
Jul 14, 2016

A new collaboration has formed to offer a positive path for a group of young men currently in detention. Called, “Your Future Starts Now,” this four-week program is organized in partnership with UMass' Extension 4-H program, Center for Human Development (CHD),  the Department of Youth Services, and the UMass Student Bridges organization.  4-H Extension Educator Lauren DuBois, along with Stacy Tchouanguem, Alisha Ross and Khalif Nunnally-Rivera of Student Bridges will facilitate this program.

4-H Summer of Science Camp
Physics camp teaches logic
Jun 28, 2016

The wide-ranging menu featured unlikely matches: strawberry jam, physics, horses and movies. It must be summer at 4-H. The UMass Extension 4-H Youth Development program was in full gear June 26-28 as they engaged 59 students from across the state in active hands-on learning on the campus at UMass Amherst.

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