August 10, 2007

Contact: Dr. Jerry Cherney, 607-255-0945

Dr. Jerry H. Cherney is seen here with a pellet stove burning grass at the Big Red Barn building at Cornell University. Cherney is New York State�s Forage Specialist and a leading researcher in grass bioenergy production. Photo: Cornell University

Cornell Researcher Familiar to Northern NY Farmers Earns Award for Forage Production, Grass Bioenergy Work

As New York State�s Forage Specialist, Dr. Jerry H. Cherney�s on-farm field trials frequently bring him to Northern New York farms to conduct research aimed at increasing dairy and livestock farm profitability while protecting the region�s rich environmental resources. His studies focus on forage production and quality, grass and manure management, and the use of grasses to produce energy. At Penn State in June 2007, Cherney, who is the E.V. Baker Professor of Agriculture at Cornell University, was awarded the Extension Industry Award for �the tremendous impact his extension and applied research program have had on the improvement of forage management and utilization on dairy farms in the Northeast, as well as his foresight and pioneering work on the use of perennial grasses for biomass for bioenergy.�

The Joint Conference of the Northeastern Branch of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) presented the award to Cherney.

Cherney is currently working on cooperative projects with Cornell animal scientists to optimize the utilization of perennial grasses and corn by dairy cows. He says, �Maximizing forage quality will minimize the need for high priced grains.�

In cooperation with Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, a Cornell associate professor of crop and soil science, Cherney is developing a grass biomass management system to utilize dairy manure in the production of grass biomass, simultaneously addressing excess manure problems and energy deficit problems.

Cherney says, �Forage crop production is the centerpiece of dairy and livestock production and one of the best means for responsible stewardship of our land resources. Management of forages for maximum economic returns, while minimizing soil erosion and nitrate losses with environmentally safe management practices is the long-term goal. Research with field experiments in Northern New York develops methods for measuring and improving forage quality, production and animal performance on the region�s dairy and livestock farms.�

About his work with bioenergy crops, Cherney says, �It takes 70 million years to produce fossil fuel. It takes 70 days to grow a crop of grass pellet fuel. Grass pellets have great potential as a low-tech, small-scale, environmentally-friendly, renewable energy system that can be locally produced, locally processed and locally consumed. Grass bioenergy is one of the ways that rural communities can move towards energy security.�

Cherney provides information on his research and results through the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program that has funded his work on regional farms and agricultural research stations. His website at www.forages.org provides a Forage Species Selector with suggestions for growing forages in New York State taking into consideration the available soil type and intended forage use. He has recently added information sheets on managing grass crops for biofuel production at his website at www.GrassBioenergy.org.

Prior to joining the Cornell faculty in August 1990, Cherney was an associate professor of agronomy at Purdue University for eight years. He has served as president of the Northeastern American Society of Agronomy and a director of the Crop Science Society of America. He is a technical editor for the Forage and Grazinglands Journal.

Cherney was awarded a Northeastern Branch ASA & SSSA Research Award in 2003. To learn more about Cherney�s work in Northern New York, go online to www.nnyagdev.org, www.forages.org, or www.GrassBioenergy.org.