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Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station

Fire blight is a major threat to apple production in USA. It can destroy thousands of high density trees per farm in epidemic conditions. Our priority is to address this threat by development of pest risk assessment through quantifying survival of fire blight bacterium Erwinia amylovora in wood cankers as main sources for infection. We will determine its survival in relation to apple and pear cultivar susceptibility, tree drought stress, and winter cold. Current fire blight prediction models assume successful fire blight survival in cankers every year.

Dual-use systems are still novel, and to a degree experimental. What agricultural activities are most compatible with dual-use is not well understood, nor is whether the new incentive will be sufficient to spur significant adoption of dual-use cropping systems. UMass has important roles in the development and adoption of dual-use systems. First, UMass Extension will serve as a clearinghouse of information and an educational resource for the agricultural and solar energy communities regarding the new technology and new incentive program.

CEE will initially conduct a review of existing research regarding dual-use systems and consult with experts, including UMass agricultural extension staff, in order to prepare information and "best practices" for applicable farm activities in the state, including production of vegetables, fruit, hay, livestock, and horticulture.   We will develop research instruments that allow farmers to establish farm plans and production estimates based on shading analysis of the dual-use array, and to report on their actual annual production and farm plan revisions for each subsequent year.

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.

This research will help to understand and develop practices that will improve soil fertility by enhancing the efficiency of use of nutrients supplied by organic or conventional fertilizers. The increased efficiency may help improve yields and quality of plant-derived foods and allow for production of nutritjous, healthful foods for consumers. The accumulation of elemental nutrients in these foods is expected to be enhanced by biochar compounded with conventional or organic fertilizers.

Hypothetical bias is a major problem in the economic valuation of ecosystem services. Because of this bias, the estimated value of ecosystem services may often be in error. The purpose of this research is to devise and test an improved method for the elimination of hypothetical bias.

Plants are an ancient, rich and sustainable source of natural chemodiversity in the form of alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins and other classes of small-molecular-weight compounds (phytochemicals). Lacking the adaptive immunity of animals, plants evolved to rely on small molecules for their survival, proliferation and reproduction.

The incidence and prevalence of some chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, and other inflammation-related human disorders, have risen dramatically in recent decades in United States and other countries. These alarming trends suggest that it is of critical importance to develop novel strategies for preventing these chronic diseases.


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