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Agriculture

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.

The objectives of this project are to conduct research and extension outreach to reduce feed and fertilizer purchase, increase farmers income and demonstrate best management practices to reduce non-point source pollution related to agriculture and equine operations.

The aim of this project is to enhance our understanding of the ovarian, embryonic and uterine factors that regulate developmental competence of oocytes, pre-implantation embryo development and uterine conditions so that the declining fertility rates and increased embryonic losses among dairy cattle as well as beef cattle and sheep, can be overturned. Therefore, by reversing these declining rates of fertility, we expect to make agricultural production more efficient, profitable, and competitive.

Over 75 named and numbered peach/nectarine and plum varieties/selections are under casual evaluation and demonstration at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard. Most of them are varieties/selection from the Fruit Acres/Stellar, Paul Friday/Flaming Fury, and Rutgers/Adams County Nursery breeding and variety introduction programs. Data collected includes flowering, yield, and fruit quality (size, color, firmness, brix, maturity, and taste/consumer acceptance), and  pest susceptibility.

In New England, European corn borer and pepper maggot are the most common insect pests of pepper fruit. In many locations, peppers picked at the green stage are only marginally affected by ECB, but those left in the field long enough to ripen fall prey to ECB, then to soft rots. During the 2012 season, the UMass IPM team worked with several growers to see if releases of Trichogramma could increase their yield of healthy bright red and yellow fruit. 

The University of Massachusetts Amherst recognizes the importance of reliable and prompt diagnosis of plant problems for the turf, floriculture, vegetable, nursery, urban forestry and landscape industries. We serve farmers, horticulturists, landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries, and others in agriculture and the green industries. The lab also assesses ticks for Lyme disease as a service to the public.

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