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This projects involves two aspects of equine operations: manure handling and a comparison of footing materials. Proper manure handling and disposal is a special concern for the horse owners operating on small acreage in close proximity to neighbors and water bodies. Rather than a liability however, horse manure can be a valuable asset to equine facilities. In this project we will evaluate two simple low cost aerated static composting systems for typical small acreage horse and/or livestock operations. Establishment of sacrifice lots are crucial to pasture management in horse farms.

Funded by: Northeast SARE Partnership Grant Program

During the winter of 2015-16, UMass Extension and Queen's Greens partnered to study the efficacy of several OMRI-approved biofungicides to reduce severity of damping off, improve stand and yield of spinach. We conducted lab and field trials to: a) determine if certain biocontrol organisms are more cold tolerant than others and would thus be better suited for use in winter production systems; and b) if any of the products evaluated can significantly increase crop yield and quality.

Cranberry production has a long history in Massachusetts (MA) that adds important economic and aesthetic value to the region.  About 30% of US acreage and the two largest cranberry handler companies are located in Massachusetts.

The goal of this project is to adapt UMass Extension produce safety training materials for vegetable and fruit growers to address the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Rule, and to work with other agricultural organizations around the state to broaden the audience for training delivery. In the long term, we aim to establish a training program and curriculum that continues to meet and respond to the needs of MA produce growers by supporting and encouraging a culture of on-farm food safety.

The diverticulated crop organ of the common house fly, which is the major insect vector of numerous human food pathogens (e.g., Escherichia coli) is the major reservoir or storage area for this, and other, important food pathogens. It has also been demonstrated that this is where horizontal transmission of antibiotic resistance to E. coli occurs. Thus, the diverticulated crop organ is an essential component in the transmission cycle between pathogens and human foods/food crops.

The micronutrient iron (Fe) is essential for photosynthesis, respiration, and many other processes, but Fe is only sparingly soluble in aqueous solution, making adequate acquisition by plants a serious challenge. Fe is a limiting factor for plant growth on approximately 30% of the world's arable lands. Furthermore, iron is highly reactive and, if over-accumulated, can cause cellular damage.

Unique among crop species, legumes produce their own nitrogen nutrient through a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria collectively known as rhizobia. This nitrogen-fixing symbiosis is a complex system, and currently we know too few of the molecular players involved. This project will optimize two methods to reduce the activity of a given gene, and use these methods to screen for legume genes required for the function of the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis.

Working both on farms and in managed pollinator habitats, I will determine how local plant diversity and abundance and surrounding landscape use shape (a) bee diversity and (b) pollination service to crops. Each of these responses requires a substantial amount of work to assess and may be conducted in separate years.In addition, I will continue to examine the factors that contribute to pollinator health in agricultural contexts.

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.

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