Northern New York Agricultural Development Program Press Releases

July 11, 2005

Contact: Jon Greenwood, 315-386-3231; Joe Giroux, 518-563-7523; 
R. David Smith, 607-255-7712

Current Research Projects Helping Northern NY Farmers Maximize Opportunities, Reduce Barriers 

Ways to maximize the use of farm soil and nutrients in manure and commercial fertilizers, and how to deal with a crop pest are the focus of Northern New York Agricultural Development Program research projects now on farms and at agricultural research stations in Northern New York. Funding from the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station is making this work possible. Daniel J. Decker, director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and associate dean of the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, says the work is vital to the success of regional producers.

�The unique soils and growing conditions in Northern New York require special attention by Cornell's agricultural research and extension community,� Decker says. "The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, a model of the land grant philosophy of working in partnership with local stakeholders, has a long history of commitment to helping the region's farmers overcome barriers to profitability and to identify opportunities to capture value-added potentials of agricultural enterprises in the North Country. In addition, environmental management objectives are being built into farm operations as researchers and farmers work together to ensure the continued legacy of farmers as land stewards." 

Harold van Es, a Cornell University professor of Crop and Soil Sciences with soil health projects currently in several NNY counties, and says, �Learning about the benefits that accrue over time of conservation agriculture practices to soil health has implications for both farm profitability and environmental protection.� 

Dr. Elson J. Shields and Dr. Janice Thies, both of Cornell University, are testing ways to control the alfalfa snout beetle, an invasive insect destroying alfalfa crops throughout the region. Shields is looking at using a species of nematode successful in controlling the beetle in Hungarian alfalfa crops. Thies has inoculated NNY fields with an insecticidal fungus that has controlled beetle infestations elsewhere. NNY farmers say being able to control the alfalfa snout beetle could save up to 25 percent of the cost of producing an alfalfa crop in the region.

Maximizing the use of manure on grass crops is the target of current work by E.V. Baker Professor of Agriculture Jerry H. Cherney, Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. He says, �Manure management, snout beetle, and nutrient balance research are all projects involving perennial forage crops and requiring an uninterrupted series of years of study to reach a successful conclusion. �With this year�s results from a five-year study on comparing split nitrogen fertilizer applications with manure applications on grass species, we will be able to improve our recommendations to regional farmers regarding the best grass species for manure management and whether split application of nitrogen fertilizer is necessary to optimize grass yield and quality.�

Three studies of how to best use the nutrients in manure and commercial fertilizers are under the direction of Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Dr. Ketterings and her research team are continuing rainfall simulation studies begun last year to assess field runoff. A new study looks at the need for nitrogen application for first-year corn crops, and the team is working the Cornell Cooperative Extension educators and farmers to develop an initial assessment of nutrient balances on participating farms in each of the six NNY counties.

�This first assessment will facilitate an evaluation of nutrient use inefficiencies and to identify opportunities that can save producers� money and reduce the losses of nutrients to the environment. Such knowledge is the basis for better management of soil, crops, fertilizers, feeds and animal wastes for watershed protection and long-term farm sustainability in Northern New York,� Dr. Ketterings says.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a farmer-driven research and education program specific to New York�s six northernmost counties. For more information, visit www.nnyagdev.org or contact Board Chairs Jon Greenwood, Canton, 315-386-3231, or Joe Giroux, Plattsburgh, 518-563-7523, or R. David Smith, Cornell University, 607-255-7712. 

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