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Stockbridge School of Agriculture

Bridging Physiology and Molecular Biology of Legumes with Sustainability and Resiliency of Crop Production in a Changing Climate

It is known that legumes generally respond to existing N in the soil. When soil N is relatively high, legumes prefer to use soil N rather than to engage in symbiosis with rhizobia. However, the ecophysiological responses of legumes to existing soil-N level and the changing climate - including temperature changes and precipitation dynamics impact rhizobia nodulation - have not been studied in actual field conditions. This study seeks to understand these responses in order to improve N management, maximize the benefits of legumes, reduce off-farm inputs, and enhance soil health.

Harnessing Chemical Ecology to Address Agricultural Pest and Pollinator Priorities

The plum curculio is an extremely destructive key pest of stone and pome fruit in commercial orchards in eastern North America. In fact, in a survey of over 100 MA and RI apple growers (conducted in mid-April 2018 by J. Piñero) this insect pest ranked first in importance. Conventional growers typically apply broad-spectrum insecticides to control plum curculio. The main goal of this project is to evaluate the attractiveness of aromatic compounds to overwintered plum curculio and to other early-season pests.

Assessment of the Mineral Nutritional Value of Vegetable Crops Grown in Organic or Conventional Systems of Farming

Experiments will be conducted in the greenhouse and in the field with leafy vegetables to investigate if the mineral nutrient content of these foods can be enriched through fertilization of the crops. This research will address investigations of mineral nutrients, suggested to include phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, and zinc, which the investigators have the capability of analyzing in their laboratories. The research will emphasize investigations with lettuce that can be cycled rapidly in greenhouse or field production.

The Working Group on Improving Microbial Control of Arthropod Pests

The goals of this project are to: 1) study and improve microbial control options in IPM strategies for: a. arge acreage crops (alfalfa, corn, dry beans, potatoes, and small grains) b. orchard systems (fruits and nuts) c. small fruits and vegetables (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and vegetables) and d. urban and natural landscapes, rangelands, and nurseries.

Hydropedology of Vernal Pool Systems

Results from the proposed new NE multistate project will help us to develop an understanding of how vernal pool ecosystems differ across the region in distribution, hydrology, periods of inundation (hydroperiod), redox chemistry, and carbon storage, flux, and accounting. In addition, we will continue our region-wide focus on hydric soils and hydric indicators to determine if there is a need for additional hydric soil indicators for vernal pool ecosystems.

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