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Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station

Production and Use of Biochar and Bio-Oil from Farm and Forest Wastes to Enhance Small Farm Sustainability in the Northeast

To strengthen the rural economy, successful strategies are always needed to reduce farm production cost and increase product values. Organic waste is generally disposed of by being left on the field to decay and/or burned. These treatments yield low values and may cause environmental pollution. Production and use of bio-oil and biochar from organic wastes could improve soil and environmental quality, provide renewable energy and reduce fossil fuel dependency, and increase soil carbon sequestration and mitigate global warming.

Rapid Detection of Multiple Food Pathogens in a Microfluidic Assay

A recent study has shown that the annual cost of foodborne illness in the Unites States is approximately $152 billion. This is a result of the estimated 76 million food-related illnesses which occur annually including approximately 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations. Coast-to-coast and international distribution by megaprocessing plants puts potential outbreaks on a national and international scale. Therefore, monitoring of pathogen counts on processing surfaces is critical in maintaining low or zero counts in food products.

Sensory, Nutrition, Education Promoting Locally Grown Fruits and Vegetables Among Western Massachusetts Head Start Children

Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables in young children and reducing childhood obesity is a key national nutrition goal. This project will examine use of  a sensory-affective, comprehensive approach to promote early childhood consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The direct correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and lowering of obesity is yet to be established in this life-stage. However, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among children ages two to five (5.0% to 12.4%).

Strategies to Evaluate and Mitigate Ozone Impacts on the Structure and Function of Vegetation

There is uncertainty about the effects of future climate on agricultural crop plants. Alfalfa is a crop that is used to provide feed for animals leading to meat production. This research will include experiments under controlled conditions that will allow prediction of how alfalfa plants will respond to future elevated CO2 (800ppm) and elevated ozone (O3) (80ppb). How these elevations affect plant growth and the nutritional value of the plants will be determined.

The Role of the Massachusetts Expanded Food and Nutrition Program in Promoting Food Security Among SNAP Participants and SNAP Eligibles

Food insecurity, or not having access at all times to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle, has been linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including low micronutrient intake, poor academic scores in children and adolescents, and overweight and obesity in adults. The federally-funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program provides nutrition education to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and eligibles and other low-income families.

Theoretical, experimental, valuation and empirical issues in the design of environmental and natural resource policies

While most economists tout the benefits of using incentive-based policies (like emission taxes, emissions markets, and individual transferable quotas), many conceptual details concerning implementation and management of these policies have not been addressed. Recent research suggests that commonly-held notions of efficient incentive-based policies need to be modified to account for the costs of enforcing these policies.

Use of Bioactive Food Components to Modulate Vitamin D Receptor Function

It is especially important to pursue research on bioactive food components at this time because it has the potential of identifying a novel avenue for targeting dietary prevention strategies to help alleviate the growing medical costs and societal burden related to diet-based problems in the area of obesity and chronic disease. The current project will investigate the effects of a bioactive food component called sulforaphane, which is found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, on basic cellular functions using cell culture and animal (mice) models.

Whole Farm Dairy and Beef Systems: Gaseous Emissions, Pmanagement, Organic Production, and Pasture Based Production

Livestock farms face a number of environmental concerns including both water and air quality issues. Stakeholders and regulators agree that attaining the dual goals of profitability and environmental accountability are major challenges facing animal agriculture. Under current economic conditions with increasing input costs and stagnant or decreasing product prices, many farms are struggling to survive. The additional costs of mitigating environmental impacts may accelerate farm exit.

Protecting water security in watershed systems: uncertainty in decision making

Providing steady supplies of water, safe drinking water, and sustaining diverse, healthy aquatic ecosystems are objectives of watershed managers. Disruptions in water supplies and quality can have serious economic and ecological impacts. Addressing water security is becoming an important aspect of watershed management that can increase the sustainability and resiliency of watershed systems. Therefore the question arises: How can water managers plan for and maintain secure water supplies under uncertain conditions?

Quantifying Growth and Establishment of Trees Planted in Residential Settings

The value of trees planted in residential settings has been well documented (Shroeder et al. 2006; McPherson et al. 2007), but value is only realized if trees grow to maturity. The same settings where trees provide benefits, however, present challenging and even severe growing conditions that may thwart survival and growth (Jutras et al. 2010). Empirical data to describe the survival and growth of such trees are limited, and most of the work has considered trees growing in field plots rather than actual residential settings (Watson et al. 1986; Morgenroth 2011).

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