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UMass Extension

Field Trials

Each year we meet with an advisory panel of conventional and organic growers from across Massachusetts to identify crop and pest management trials of greatest concern to the farming community.  We then contact grower organizations such as the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association and commercial seed and crop protection companies to sponsor trials and treatments that target the pest management concerns of our stakeholders.

Advancing IPM on Diversified and Organic Farms in Massachusetts

We worked with Massachusetts growers on a broad range of activities related to Integrated Pest Management for diversified vegetable and fruit farms. One of the core components of this project is working with several 'mentor farms,' who grow both fruits and vegetables and are open to expanding their use of advanced integrated pest management techniques as well as working with us to better understand how a diversified farm can use IPM.  We also conducted field trials on-farm and at our research farm on IPM methods identified by growers as their priorities each year.

Winter Production, Storage and Sales

Beginning in 2010, project participants at the Universities of Massachusetts and New Hampshire Extensions, along with two local food organizations, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) in western MA and Seacoast Eat Local (SEL) in eastern NH conducted research trials, and collaborated with winter vegetable producers throughout New England on methods for production, storage, and marketing to strengthen this aspect of the regional food system.

Reducing climatic and disease risks through minimum tillage systems for vegetables

Reduced and modified tillage (RT) systems (e.g. no-, zone-, strip) represent strategies to reduce soil degradation and erosion and protect water quality. Previous research has shown that these tillage systems can provide the environmental and economic benefits of a RT system for many vegetable crops without the harvest delays or losses observed in straight no-till. Reduced Tillage systems can improve both, soil quality and soil drainage, potentially reducing Phytophtora blight among other soil borne pathogens.

Heating Greenhouses with Locally Grown Corn

Massachusetts has over 1,000 growers producing greenhouse crops in 12 million square feet of protected growing space (2002 Census of Agriculture). Most of Massachusetts’ greenhouses are heated with either fuel oil or liquid propane. While there are no firm figures available, we estimate that total use of fossil fuels for greenhouse heat is equivalent to nearly 1 million gallons of fuel oil, with emissions in the range of 22 million pounds of CO2 annually.

Converting cover crops to forage crops on dairy farms: Winter rye, wheat, and triticale for forage in corn silage production systems

Research Project Year: 2014-2018

Background

Corn silage is a primary source of feed on most New England dairy farms, and feed is the largest annual expense. The corn growing season spans mid-May through early-October, with variation according to weather, region, and the maturity period (days to harvest) of the corn that the farmer selects. Corn planted in Massachusetts ranges from 85 days to maturity to well over 114 days to maturity.

Production of Quality Malt Barley in New England

There has been a steadily increasing demand for craft beer in the United States in the past 2 decades, especially the northeastern and western regions of the country. Currently, there is an insufficient body of research regarding varieties and fertility management plans that would permit growers in the pioneer valley to produce malting-quality barley. Barley must fit into a range of specific quality parameters, such as percent protein and the near absence of Deoxynivalenol (DON, produced by Fusarium head blight), to be suitable for malting.

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