Program Highlights

 
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entomology

Horticulture

Plant Pathology

Grower Case Studies

 

 

Entomology

 
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 BMSB Colony

BMSB Colony

At FARM researchers and staff in the Entomology Department focus on insect pests that affect fruit and vegetable crops grown by commercial farmers in the Hudson Valley and Eastern New York. 

Entomology is the scientific study of insects, and is a branch of zoology. While the scientific definition of what constitutes an "insect" has changed over time, entomoloy has historically included a broader definition of insects and has included the study of other groups such as arachnids, myriapods, earthworms, etc. This wider meaning is still sometimes used informally.

Current HVRL research projects focus on pest management of particularly damaging and widely found pests such as Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB), Pear Psylla, Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), and others.

 

 

Plant Pathology

 
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Plant Pathology is the scientific study of diseases in plants caused by infectious organisms (pathogens) and environmental conditions. 

Plant Pathology is the study of organisms called plant pathogens that cause diseases in plants through a process of infection, the environmental conditions that influence plant growth and pathogen development, and the plants showing changes in metabolism and appearance, before and after the disease is visible through signs called symptoms.

Organisms that cause plant diseases include fungi, fungus-like organisms, bacteria, phytoplasmas, viruses, viroids, virus-like organisms, protozoas, nematodes and parasitic plants. Plant pathogens do not include insects, mites, and other vertebrates that affect plant health by consumption of plant tissues. Those pests are studied by entomologists and agricultural zoologists. Plant pathology also involves the study of plant pathogen identification, plant pathogen epidemiology, plant disease life cycles, plant disease resistance, and management of plant diseases.

As a multidisciplinary science, plant pathology uses methods and knowledge from microbiology, genetics, molecular biology, plant protection, environmental toxicology, chemistry, and biochemistry to study plant pathogens and diseased plants with the goal prevent losses in plant growth, yield quantity, and food quality intended for human and domestic animal consumption. One of the main outcomes of plant pathology research are new methods, products, and strategies for managing or controlling plant pathogens. 

Disease management is a branch of plant pathology focused on invention, development, and evaluation of pathogen control methods, strategies and practices that aim to prevent or stop the pests from causing critical damage and loss of plant crops and yield. Management of plant diseases is crucial for securing the continuity of food production that supports existence of human society.

Crop losses can vary significantly from year to year depending on the pathogen species, plant cultivar, weather conditions, and growth stage of a plant at the time of infection. Across different regions of the world and crop species, it is estimated that diseases reduce plant yields on average by 10-30% every year. Continued advancement in the science of plant pathology is necessary to create scientific basis that will allow invention of new disease control options and increasing of the overall number and efficiency of disease control practices used by growers. Research in plant pathology is an absolute necessity that will keep addressing the challenges of 21st Century food production, such as intensive plant disease outbreaks triggered by climate change, increasing range of pathogen habitats, planting susceptible cultivars on large acreages, changes in growing practices and technology, and rapidly evolving pathogen populations under pest management pressures.

Apples are a major crop in New York. NY is the second largest apple producing state in the US with up to 32 million bushels produced and sold annually. Therefore, diseases which impact apples and other tree fruits are a major focus of research and extension of FARM's Plant Pathology Department.

Current FARM research projects include:

Fire blight
Powdery mildew

Bitter rot

 

 

Horticulture

 
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 Organic growing methods in the Eco Block

Organic growing methods in the Eco Block

Horticulture is the science and art of growing plants: fruits, vegetables, flowers, and any other cultivar. The term also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, soil management, landscape and garden design, construction, and maintenance, and arboriculture.

 

Horticulturists apply their knowledge, skills, and technologies used to grow intensively produced plants for human food and non-food uses and for personal or social needs. Their work involves plant propagation and cultivation with the aim of improving plant growth, yields, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses.

FARM Horticulture staff have a long history of working in partnership with Cornell University on the development of new rootstocks and varieties of apples and also participated in the development of the guidelines used in modern high-density orchards.

In addition to long-term, multi-year projects to test new apple varietals with Cornell’s Susan Brown and in the development of tall spindle growing systems with Cornell’s Terrence Robinson HVRL horticultural staff have recently run multi-year trials working with Honeycrisp and Gala apples to evaluate methods of controlling sunburn on the apples. eginning in early 2018, and in partnership with the Entomology Department, we willbegin a trial of 3 kinds of Cabernet Franc rootstocks and clones to determine which varieties are the best-suited to growth and production in the Hudson Valley’s growing wine region.

 

Grower Case Studies

 
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Grower 1:
Fishkill Farms

Fishkill Farms

Fishkill Farms has been in the Morgenthau family for over 100 years. In 2007, Robert and Josh Morgenthau revamped operations to convert the property from solely a u-pick apple orchard to a sprawling ecological operation with new equipment and infrastructure. Today, the Morgenthau’s distribute throughout New York State and operate a successful CSA. With the help of FARM, they’ve become local champions of sustainable farming practices, ensuring a healthy farm for generations to come.

 

 

Grower 2: Poughkeepsie Farm Project

Poughkeepsie Farm Project

Poughkeepsie Farm Project began in 1999 as a small community farm with a commitment to education and food justice. The first season, 15 CSA shareholders enjoyed produce from 3 acres of reawakened farmland leased from Vassar College.

Today they have expanded to 12 acres and over 500 households take part in the CSA. Beyond harvesting 183,366 pounds of produce in 2015, 34,555 pounds of it were donated to those in need in the community. According to research done by Poughkeepsie Plenty, an anti-hunger organization working to eliminate food insecurity the our city, 1 in 4 households in the City of Poughkeepsie are food insecure by USDA standards. (This is higher than the national average of 1 in 6 and 1 in 10 households suffer from severe food insecurity.)  In addition to the work Poughkeepsie Farm Project does to bring crops to harvest, they train and educate the community on healthy growing and eating practices year round.

The Poughkeepsie Farm Project is one of the on-site farm locations where FARM has tracked SWD populations and where we have deployed our Attract and Kill stations.

 

Grower 3: Stoutridge Vineyard

Stoutridge Vineyard

Stoutridge opened their doors in 2007 in the rolling hills of Marlboro on the site of a vineyard dating back to the 1700s. Estate-grown wine is made from vines planted just half a mile from the Hudson River. Because their natural wines are chemical free, they rely on the expertise and assistance of FARM to keep their crop healthy year over year.