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Vigorously growing plants require adequate, but not excessive, essential nutrients. Nutrients must be provided in the right form, at the right time, and at the right place. Management of all nutrients sources (i.e., soil, commercial fertilizer, compost, and animal and green manure) within the constraints of the production system is fundamental to both economic viability and environmental quality. Poor management of plant nutrients can lead to economic losses and environmental degradation of soil, air, and water quality.

The Turf Pathology and Breeding Laboratory at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a three-year research grant (2013-2016) from the United States Golf Association Green Section.  The proposed study will compare the soil microbial communities and soil compositions between an organically and a conventionally managed golf course on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts using Next Generation Sequencing techniques.  The research objectives are 1) to determine diversity and relative abundance of microbes (bacteria, fungi, and nematodes) from each

The UMass Extension SNAP-Ed program is part of a national nutrition education effort funded through the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP). The overarching goal of SNAP-Ed is to provide nutrition education programs and activities that help adults and youth eligible for SNAP to establish healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles.

The cranberry industry in Massachusetts faces many challenges. In the past ten years, growers have gone from receiving record high prices for their fruit to record low prices. Although the industry has rebounded, the focus to remain economically competitive and environmentally sustainable has sharpened. It is anticipated that the industry may lose some acreage due to attrition and that smaller growers may sell their land. As with all farmers, energy costs are rising quickly, impacting the bottom line. Growers must develop and adopt innovative technology to remain competitive.

Fruit farms and vineyards provide open space and scenic vistas that add significantly to the quality of life in Massachusetts. The lands surrounding agricultural production provide buffer zones for native species of plants and animals and corridors for their movement or expansion. To remain a vital part of the Massachusetts economy, both new and established growers must learn to produce crops sustainably and to adapt production systems to market opportunities. New varieties provide fruit farmers with opportunities for enhancing production, quality, sales and consumption. 

According to the USDA New England Agricultural Statistics, nursery and greenhouse production was ranked first among the state's agricultural commodities in 2009 with sales estimated at $168 million. According to a 2007 survey, conducted by the New England Nursery Association there are more than 5,130 firms that are involved in production (nurseries, greenhouses, herbs, cut flowers, turfgrass) retail (garden centers, florists) and landscape services. Forty-six percent of these operations combined these different business elements.

Locally, the Green Industry is a major sector of agriculture in Massachusetts.  According to a 2007 survey conducted by the New England Nursery Association, in Massachusetts, there are more than 5,130 firms involved in production (nurseries, greenhouses, herbs, cut flowers, turfgrass) retail, (garden center florists), and landscape services (landscape design, installation, maintenance, lawn care, tree care) with an estimated value of over $2.6 billion in gross income.

In the highly populated northeastern United States, managed grass covered surfaces (utility turf, lawns, parklands, sports fields, etc) collectively comprise an integral part of our communities. Turf management practices have broad implications for water resources, property values, energy consumption, greenhouse gas mitigation, safety of youth and adult sports participants, and the economic viability of businesses and communities. In addition, turf management materials present potential risks from human and non-target exposure.

The Extension Vegetable Management Team team have engaged new stakeholders, revitalized our applied research program, and responded to regulatory changes impacting stakeholders. We have been successful in garnering external funds to support the expansion of this project and the scope of our efforts to address stakeholder needs.


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