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Agriculture

In order to compete in the marketplace, assure profitability and preserve the environment, cranberry growers must overcome barriers to sustainability. This project has three components related to increased sustainability in Massachusetts cranberry production:

Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station Project MAS00999
Duration: October 2010 - August 2015

Our current ignorance of most of the mechanisms involved in plant iron homeostasis is a major obstacle in devising approaches for biofortification of staple foods with iron. Biofortification refers to the genetic engineering of staple crops to accumulate additional bioavailable iron in edible parts, and is widely regarded as a sustainable means of improving the iron nutrition of the 2-3 billion people worldwide (World Health Organization) whose inadequate diet causes iron deficiency anemia.

During estrus, mares can behave in a manner that can make handling, riding, training, or competing these horses difficult. Current methods to suppress estrus behavior during the breeding season, when most horse competition takes place, include: pharmacological treatments; glass marbles; and negative reinforcement. This work will develpe strategies to control estrus behaviour without the need for pharmacological treatments or negative reinforcement.

Agriculture is a critical component of the national and global economies as well as food security. Agricultural crops exist as part of an ecosystem, in which they interact not only with pest species but also with a wide range of "mutualists," including pollinators, beneficial soil fungi, and natural enemies of pests.

Laminitis is a crippling disease that affects about one-percent of the more than nine million horses in North America. The cost of laminitis to the horse industry exceeds $1 billion annually, predominantly from loss of use of the affected animals rather than medical costs. Laminitis results from failure of the digital laminae, which suspend a horse's distal phalanx, and thus the axial skeleton and all that is attached to it, within the hoof capsule. The laminae are composed of a hoof wall-associated epidermal layer and a distal phalanx-associated dermal layer.

Grapes have a high establishment cost of $20-30K/acre and delayed returns during a 3-4 year establishment period. Profitability and sustainability depends upon reliable productivity and resilience to inevitable climate-related injury.

This project is identifying potentially useful wine grape cultivars and evaluating their growth under conditions in central and coastal Massachusetts. It will provide information to Massachusetts fruit growers on grapes that they may grow to assist them to diversify their crops.

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