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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. 

Our goal is to evaluate the role and causative mechanisms of parasitic mites, viruses, and microbes in pollinator abundance and honeybee colony success. Isolation of total RNA and DNA from bee guts will be performed following standard methods currently used in our laboratory. Bee infection status with viruses and the eukaryotic parasites Crithidia and Nosema will be determined by PCR and rtPCR analyses to detect viruses and parasites using RNA and/or DNA extracted from guts as template.

We will be exploring the utility of small bio-reactive molecules for use in controlling viruses and protozoan pathogens without harming bees.

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.

Armored scale insects (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) include many destructive pests of orchard crops, forestry, horticulture, and agriculture (Kennett et al., 1990), costing an estimated two billion dollars per year in the US (Miller & Davidson, 2005). They also have an extraordinary tendency to be invasive. As of 2005, the US had 132 species of diaspidids introduced from other countries (Miller et al., 2005), comprising fully 40% of the known US armored scale insect fauna. Of these, 85 (64%) were considered pests.

Natural products have a long history of providing novel compounds either directly or as lead compounds for human therapeutics, nutrition and agricultural applications. Fungal diversity has evolved over 900 million years and concurrent with this evolution is diversification of the natural product chemistry resulting in an impressive array of compounds known as specialized metabolites.

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE-SARE) Research and Education Grant Project LNE 12-316.
Duration: June 2012 - June 2016

The project addresses how flowering plants achieve fertilization, which if unsuccessful will result in reproductive failure, devastating agricultural productivity. Pollen grains germinate on the stigma, the receptive surface of the female organ pistil. Each pollen grain hydrates and extrudes a pollen tube whose function is to transport two sperm cells carried in its cytoplasm to the female gametophyte inside an ovule, usually located at some distance from the stigma.

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE-SARE) Professional Development Program (PDP) Grant
Duration: September 2015-April 2018

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