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Mitochondria are cellular organelles which are often referred to as the "powerhouse" of the cell. Their many functions include generating the chemical energy utilized by cells, as well as roles in cell signaling, differentiation, cell growth and even cell death. It has been shown that chronic exposures to organic pesticides such as Rotenone, which inhibits mitochondrial function, can result in pathological conditions such as Parkinson's disease.

Research Project Year: 2012

The goal of the proposed research work is to evaluate the addition of biochar as a soil amendment in a temperate agricultural field and in the greenhouse using live field soil.

Specific objectives of this study include:

This projects involves two aspects of equine operations: manure handling and a comparison of footing materials. Proper manure handling and disposal is a special concern for the horse owners operating on small acreage in close proximity to neighbors and water bodies. Rather than a liability however, horse manure can be a valuable asset to equine facilities. In this project we will evaluate two simple low cost aerated static composting systems for typical small acreage horse and/or livestock operations. Establishment of sacrifice lots are crucial to pasture management in horse farms.

Funded by: Northeast SARE Partnership Grant Program

During the winter of 2015-16, UMass Extension and Queen's Greens partnered to study the efficacy of several OMRI-approved biofungicides to reduce severity of damping off, improve stand and yield of spinach. We conducted lab and field trials to: a) determine if certain biocontrol organisms are more cold tolerant than others and would thus be better suited for use in winter production systems; and b) if any of the products evaluated can significantly increase crop yield and quality.

The goal of this project is to adapt UMass Extension produce safety training materials for vegetable and fruit growers to address the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Rule, and to work with other agricultural organizations around the state to broaden the audience for training delivery. In the long term, we aim to establish a training program and curriculum that continues to meet and respond to the needs of MA produce growers by supporting and encouraging a culture of on-farm food safety.

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.

Unique among crop species, legumes produce their own nitrogen nutrient through a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria collectively known as rhizobia. This nitrogen-fixing symbiosis is a complex system, and currently we know too few of the molecular players involved. This project will optimize two methods to reduce the activity of a given gene, and use these methods to screen for legume genes required for the function of the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis.

 All food crop varieties, regardless of species, must meet certain quality standards related to their role in food production. Humans have achieved these quality standards through millennia via the processes of domestication and breeding for improvement. Because use of plants for fuel is relatively recent, energy crops lack similar quality standards. There is a desire to create energy crops that will provide high biomass and high fuel yields while growing with few inputs on marginal land.

Improving human nutrition without artificial fortification of food or use of supplementary mineral nutrients is important in reducing malnutrition. Malnutrition from deficiencies of mineral elements is reported to be on the rise worldwide, even in the United State; it is estimated that half of the world population suffers from mineral nutrient deficiencies, limiting their physical, intellectual, and mental health activities. The deficiencies appear to derive from diminished contents of mineral nutrients in foods of plant (vegetables, fruits) or animal (meats, milk, cheese) origins.

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.

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