Back to top

Commercial Horticulture

The University of Massachusetts Amherst recognizes the importance of reliable and prompt diagnosis of plant problems for the turf, floriculture, vegetable, nursery, urban forestry and landscape industries. We serve farmers, horticulturists, landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries, and others in agriculture and the green industries. The lab also assesses ticks for Lyme disease as a service to the public.

The recent removal of fenamiphos from availability leaves golf course superintendents with no effective management for plant parasitic nematodes. Fenamiphos was the only effective nematicide registered for use on golf greens in the United States. However, the LD50 of fenamiphos is in the single digits and therefore difficult and risky to applicators and non-target organisms.  There have been a number of commercially-available products and experimental products offered as fenamiphos-alternatives.

Video 2 of 3

Presenter - Barbara DeFlorio, Environmental Toxicology Graduate Student

Best Management Practices are commonly implemented on golf courses to minimize the movement of pesticides and nutrients. One such practice is the use of vegetative filter strips (VFS) to intercept runoff and help protect the quality of groundwater and adjacent surface water. Research at UMass is ongoing to identify the best-suited plant material and most appropriate planting techniques to ensure effective vegetative filter strips.

One of the key missions of the UMass Extension Turf Program is to promote natural resource protection through responsible turf management. The following featured videos profile current UMass research for which the primary focus is the conservation and protection of one of our most precious natural resources: water.

Video 1 of 3

Presenter - Dr. Michelle DaCosta, Turf Physiologist

Video 3 of 3

Presenter - Dr. Scott Ebdon, Turf Agronomist

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 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.

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.


Subscribe to Commercial Horticulture