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.
Timeframe: 2014 - 2017
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.
The genes within the genome (genetic code) of cattle need to be identified and defined before variability of these genes among cattle (individuals and breeds) can be identified. One goal is to determine whether such variations when found are associated with enhanced or decreased resistance to infectious diseases. The cattle genome has been largely sequenced (that is, the genetic code 'read'), and now one of the purposes of the international community effort is to annotate the bovine genome (define genes within the genetic code).
The relationship between domesticated animals and humans is a close one, and has existed for at least ten thousand years. It is important to understand the immune defenses of many animals, in addition to the immune defenses of humans and mice. Animals have evolved many different ways of responding to bacteria and viruses. Many diseases threatening humans are zoonotic, which means that they are shared between humans and animals.
Both established and beginning farmers of diversified vegetable and fruit farms in New England have requested training and tools to help them with whole-farm Integrated Pest Management (IPM). In particular, farmers ask for on-farm training in procedures to scout, trap, and monitor pests as well as pest advisories tailored to reflect their own farms, local, and regional pest pressures.
Evaluate pasture management systems with beef and other livestock.
Preserving and improving soil health/quality/resiliency continues to be an area of strong interest and concern for MA land stewards. Not unique to MA, this concern has been echoed across the region and nationally leading NRCS to emphasize soil health awareness as a continued priority with a special emphasis on cover cropping.