More than 100 farmers, crop consultants and other agricultural professionals flocked to the fields at Cornell’s Musgrave Research Farm in Aurora for the annual field day that has drawn large crowds since the 1970s.

Visitors were eager to learn about the research conducted across the 450 acre farm, managed by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. This year’s presentations included: disease resistance in corn, field crop pests, white mold on soybeans, control of perennial broadleaf weeds, cover crops and nitrogen management. Visitors were also treated to a barbecue lunch.   

The event was hosted by the Integrated Field Crop, Soil, and Pest Management Program Work Team, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Text and photos courtesy of Anja Timm

Dr. Boor goes to Washington


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today the appointment of Dr. Kathryn Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS, as an inaugural member of the board of directors of the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. Dean Boor will serve as one of 15 appointed and 5 ex-officio directors of the Foundation.

Established by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill, the Foundation will foster research, innovation and partnerships important to the nation’s agricultural economy. It will aim to address problems of national and international importance in plant and animal health, production and products; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and the environment; agricultural and food security; agriculture systems and technology; and agricultural economics and rural communities. It will also work to foster collaboration among agricultural researchers to meet unmet and emerging research needs through grants, contracts, cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding. 

The Foundation will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations in order to fund research activities. Congress also provided $200 million in research dollars to be matched by non-federal funds as the Foundation identifies and approves projects.

The board of directors will have broad responsibilities to establish policies, governance structures and set priorities for the new Foundation.

"I am thrilled that Dr. Kathryn Boor of New York was appointed to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Board of Directors," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "This new foundation will provide much needed resources to our nation’s farmers and industry leaders in the areas of food safety, nutrition, energy, agriculture systems, technology, economics and rural communities. I supported her nomination and commend her leadership at Cornell University, providing resourceful tools, technology and information to New York farmers.”

From a microbiological standpoint, it’s got an indefinite shelf life once you remove enough of the water.

— Randy Worobo, professor of food science, explains why the world’s oldest ham at 112 years and counting is still technically edible (though it wouldn’t taste very good). 

Plant disease expert joins NYSAES faculty


imageIt was announced earlier this week that Dr. Sarah Pethybridge will be joining the Station faculty as assistant professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology. Pethybridge comes to Cornell from Down Under, where she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Tasmania, Australia in 2000. Since then, she has held positions as Agricultural Research, Development and Extension Manager for Botanical Resources Australia Pty, and served as Science Group Leader (Field Crops) at The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research.

Dr. Pethybridge has made substantial contributions in the epidemiology and management of virus diseases in the hop plant, an essential ingredient in beer production. She has received numerous awards, including the American Phytopathological Society’s Syngenta Award, the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology’s Agri-Industry Award, and the University of Tasmania’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Graduates.

Her research and extension program at the Station will focus on understanding and managing diseases of vegetable crops.

There are close to 100,000 public school lunchrooms across America. Instead of trying to imagine how to control them or set them up to sacrifice nutrition for dollars, a better option is to help them become smarter and more efficient.

— Professors David Just and Brian Wansink of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, respond to the emerging debate in Congress over the National School Lunch Program in this op-ed.

The Dyson School has been abuzz lately, with yet more high rankings and three exciting new hires.

According to a new rankings system posted by the recently launched undergraduate news site and social network Poets and Quants, Dyson is the second best undergraduate business program in the nation. The site combined the results of the two most closely-watched rankings - U.S. News & World Reports and Bloomberg Businessweek - and added “a new and important wrinkle”: the university’s overall national rank in the annual U.S. News list. They recognized that undergraduates in business programs also take classes elsewhere within the college and university, and that the rankings should reflect their overall academic experience - which is clearly strong at CALS and Cornell!

That experience should get even stronger with the addition of three new faculty members. John Hoddinott (far left) and Jennifer Ifft will join entrepreneurial expert Michael Roach (far right), who started earlier this summer, as professors of food economics and agribusiness.

In a joint appointment with the Division of Nutritional Sciences Hoddinott will be filling the shoes of Per Pinstrup-Andersen, who retired as the H.E. Babcock Professorship of Food & Nutrition Economics and Policy earlier this year. He comes to Cornell from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) - where he served as deputy director in the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division. Prior to that, he held university appointments in Canada and the United Kingdom, including Oxford. His principal research interest lies in the microeconometric analysis of issues in development economics; the causes of poverty, food insecurity and undernutrition; and the design and evaluation of interventions that would reduce these.

Ifft will become the first Mueller Family Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow in Agribusiness and Farm Management. She was formerly a research economist in the Farm Economy Branch of the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (ERS). While at ERS she was also responsible for the U.S. farm business income forecasts and regularly briefed the USDA chief economist and agency leaders on U.S. Farm Financial Forecasts.

Roach is the J. Thomas and Nancy W. Clark Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of university entrepreneurship, scientific labor markets, and firm intellectual property strategies. His primary research agenda examines the career paths of science and engineering doctorates, with a particular emphasis on careers in entrepreneurship and the founding teams of university-based start-ups. He also investigates the changing nature of university research funding and firm patenting activities with implications for science and innovation policy. His experience is personal as well as professional: Roach co-founded a software start-up as a senior in high school and had over eight years of entrepreneurial experience prior to beginning his undergraduate studies. Prior to joining Cornell, he was on the faculty at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ketterings recognized by national agronomy society

imageCongratulations to Quirine Ketterings, professor of nutrient management in agricultural systems, who has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the scientific society’s highest honor. The annual awards are presented for outstanding contributions to agronomy through education, national and international service, and research. Leader of Cornell’s Nutrient Management Spear Program, Ketterings focuses her applied research, extension and teaching work on the development and implementation of adaptive soil  and crop management approaches in agriculture. To date, she has co-authored 83 peer-reviewed publications and over 330 extension articles, and presented at many international, national and regional conferences. She serves as co-chair for the Northeast Region Certified Crop Advisor board and has, for the past 11 years, organized their annual three-day certification and continuing education training. Ketterings received her Ingenieurs (B.Sc.) in Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture from the International Agricultural College, Deventer, and her M.Sc. in Soil and Water from Wageningen University and Research Center, both in the Netherlands, and her Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from Ohio State University.

Military veterans are one group of individuals, returning from active duty and looking to re-enter civilian life. Many of these veterans are from rural areas. They have a broad amount of experience and background that their service provided. And often they really prefer and enjoy working with their hands and they like those active types of employment.

— Anu Rangarajan, director of the Cornell Small Farms Program, describes why many returning veterans are attracted to programs at Cornell designed to help them build careers in agriculture.

Coyote pretty

imagePhoto by Christopher Bruno

Does this photo inspire fear or wonder? Newark Valley sixth graders Colin Creeley, Riley Malone and Joshua Post worried that fear and ignorance of coyotes is leading to killings as the animals increasingly venture out of the woods into suburban and urban areas. So they worked with Cornell coyote expert Paul Curtis to develop and carry out their own social science experiment.

As part of a project for the national web-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics competition eCYBERMISSION, they measured children’s feelings of fear and tendency toward acts of violence against coyotes, and then educated these same children about the animals in general. After the intervention (the education about coyotes) they found that students’ feels of fear and tendency toward aggressive behavior against the animals significantly dropped. The students placed first at the state level in their age division, landing them savings bonds towards their college tuition.

"Dr. Curtis was a tremendous asset to our students and was a wonderfully supportive and encouraging guide and the students were so grateful for his input," teacher Jessica Williams told the local paper, according to the Department of Natural Resources blog

At the recent field day at Willsboro Research Farm, a large crowd of attendees gathered to learn about agricultural research for Northern New York being conducted at the farm; among them, Phil Giltner, Deputy Commissioner with the Department of Agriculture & Markets.

The farm’s clay and sandy soils along Lake Champlain permit a wide range of field experiments. Presentations encompassed many topics relevant to organic as well as conventional growers: heritage and ancient wheat trials, cold hardy wine grape varieties, juneberries as a commercial fruit crop, cover crops for vegetable systems, season extension with high tunnels, reduced tillage, forage variety trials and nitrogen management. Refreshments, sunshine and the view of Lake Champlain completed this educational and enjoyable event.

Cornell’s Willsboro Research Farm is managed by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Photos and text courtesy of Anja Timm

Curious about carnivorous plants? Then check out this video from Dr. Linda Rayor’s Naturalist Outreach Series. Recent CALS graduate Evan Barrientos ’14 hosts this fun and informative investigation of the beautiful and hungry flora. 

A vote of confidence from Senator Nozzolio!



(Senator Nozzolio with Dean Boor)

We all know the important role that agriculture and particularly the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, NY play in supporting the regional economy. But it’s truly gratifying to hear someone else says so. In this much-appreciated op-ed, New York State Senator Mike Nozzolio, who is one of CALS and Cornell’s chief supporters in Albany, describes just how critical agriculture and agricultural innovation are to economic growth and development in the Finger Lakes. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!