Three collaborative New York City-based projects, designed to inspire cross-campus research partnerships, have been awarded grant funding totaling approximately $500,000 from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. One of these, Agriculture in the City: Growing Healthy Soils for Healthy Communities, will be conducted by a team led by Jenny Kao-Kniffin and Jonathan Russell-Anelli.
Bram Govaerts, director of the Integrated Development Program and regional representative for the Americas at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), has been appointed as a Cornell Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large in recognition of his contribution to sustainable agri-food systems in Mexico and globally.
Cornell and the Atkinson Center helped organize a workshop, “Helping NYS address its climate goals through thermochemical conversion,” on July 16 to develop opportunities for New York to meet its climate goals.
Congratulations to the 36 graduate students and 58 undergraduates recognized by SIPS as part of the 2019 Commencement Ceremonies. Soil and Crop Sciences graduate students Angela Possinger and Sonam Sherpa were awarded PhDs and Sabrina Kelch received an MS, in addition to the many undergraduates with advisers and mentors in the Section.
Eight SIPS graduate students have been awarded predoctoral fellowships from the USDA NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Among them are Taylor Cyle in the Martínez program, whose thesis research focuses tracking the fate of low molecular weight organic substrates in solution-microbe-mineral systems.
Hariharan received the the Exemplary Service – Early Graduate Career Award for exemplary leadership in creating inclusive spaces at Cornell, engagement with various organizations promoting diversity on campus, and deepening of connections among graduate students.
New faculty member Andrew McDonald is an associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science, Soil and Crop Sciences Section with a focus on cropping systems ecology and sustainable agricultural development.
Enid Martínez in the SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section, was officially promoted to full professor, effective April 1, 2019. Martínez is a soil and environmental chemist whose research focuses on deciphering the mechanisms and rates of reactions that mediate elemental fate and cycling in soils.
Johannes Lehmann and former graduate student Rachel Hestrin, along with collaborators from Canada and Australia, have shown that charcoal can mop up large quantities of nitrogen from the air pollutant ammonia. The results were published Friday in Nature Communications.
Nitrogen (N) management is one of agriculture's great enigmas. But web-based management tools like Harold van Es's Adapt-N (now owned by Yara International) have revolutionized growers' ability to monitor and adjust N inputs throughout the season.
Christine Yao-Yun Chang, Post-Doctoral Associate with the Sun research group, Amy Collins, Assistant to the Chair, and Eugene Law, PhD candidate, were recognized December 7 at the annual MacDonald Musgrave Awards ceremony. Awards were presented by Soil and Crop Sciences Chair, Professor Antonio DiTommaso.
Annual greenhouse gas emissions from all U.S. vehicles could be absorbed by forests, wetlands and agricultural lands – erasing a fifth of all greenhouse gas pollution, according to new research by Peter Woodbury and others.
How is climate change affecting agriculture? How can we prepare ourselves for expected challenges in weed management? These are some of the questions addressed by Toni DiTommaso, professor and chair in the SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section, in his keynote address to the 2018 Australasian Weed Congress.
Cornell students excelled at the Northeastern Collegiate Weed Contest held July 24 at the BASF Research facility in Pine Level, NC. Undergraduates Aleah Butler-Jones and Jonathan Berlingeri placed second and third place, respectively, in the individual undergraduate category.
Housed in Bradfield Hall, Cornell’s Soil Health Lab is a pioneer in its field. The first facility to offer an exhaustive array of tests to assess soil health— Kirsten Kurtz, manager of the lab, calls it “the most comprehensive soil health lab in the world”—it’s the busiest in the business, conducting some 50,000 individual tests per year.
Johannes Lehmann and his team in the SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section led the official opening of the Cornell pyrolysis kiln with an open house at the facility in Leland Laboratory. The pilot-plant kiln will be used to produce biochar under highly controlled and monitored conditions for research on its use as a soil amendment, contributor to carbon sequestration, and component of sustainable fuel production.
Matt Ryan, faculty in the SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section, describes strategies to integrate and manage the perennial grain Kernza in a recent publication. Ryan, whose research focuses on sustainable cropping systems and perennial grains, finds that in order to offset Kernza’s relatively low yields, it’s important to take advantage of its strengths.
DanoneWave, maker of dairy and plant-based products, coffee creamers, and beverages, has announced the launch of a soil health initiative in partnership with Harold van Es in the SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section and other soil scientists. DanoneWave is committing up to $6M for research on soil regeneration and enhancement of organic matter and soil fertility over the next five years.
Soil and Crop Sciences presented the 2017 MacDonald-Musgrave Awards for excellence to: Jeff Melkonian, Kirsten Kurtz, Akio Enders, and Angela Possinger. These important honors are given based on exceptional performance and professional contributions to the Soil and Crop Sciences Section. Congratulations!
A recent paper co-authored by Peter Woodbury, SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section, is receiving widespread attention in the popular press, including the magazine Newsweek. The study outlines options for mitigating climate change such as carbon sequestration, reduced emissions, and environmental restoration.
Norway-based Yara International has acquired Agronomic Technology Corporation, holder of the license to the Adapt-N technology developed by Harold van Es and colleagues in the SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section. Yara International is the largest global manufacturer of synthetic nitrogen and will be making significant further investments in Adapt-N, enhancing its global reach.
More than 170 researchers, educators, farmers, and agricultural service providers attended the Northeast Cover Crops Council’s (NECCC) Annual Meeting at The Statler Hotel on November 8, coordinated by SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section faculty Matt Ryan.
Susan Hoskins, senior extension associate in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the New York GIS Association. Susan was recognized for her more than 20 years’ experience in aerial photo interpretation and mapping, and for her service with youth education.
When it comes to measuring photosynthesis, green is not all that counts. A Cornell researcher is using a NASA satellite to measure photosynthesis in high resolution at the global scale, advancing how we measure plant health and its impact on food production and atmospheric carbon dioxide.
More than 70 Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) majors turned Minns Garden into an ephemeral art gallery Sept. 29, as part of a class led by Soil and Crop Sciences professor Johannes Lehman
Cornell brought a graduate team and two undergraduate teams to the Northeastern Collegiate Weed Science Contest held on July 25 in North Rose NY. Undergrad Team #1 place third overall and Patty Chan (Plant Sciences) placed placed second in the individual undergraduate category.
Alexander, emeritus professor in the SIPS Section of Soil and Crop Sciences, was a world leader in the study of the microbial decomposition and the effects of aging on bioavailability of toxins in the soil environment.
Congratulations to the 15 graduate students and 36 undergraduates recognized by SIPS as part of the 2017 Commencement Ceremonies. Among these were Kiera Crowley, earning an MS in Soil and Crop Sciences.
SCS grad student organizes letter-writing campaign targeting a coal company executive convicted in the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. Bybee-Finley is motivated by concerns over soil and watershed contamination as well as fundamental issues of sustainable resource use and social justice. Details of the campaign are described in an LA Times article.
In a recent publication in Nature Communications, Cornell soil biogeochemists report they have identified a biogeoconductor network in pyrolyzed organic matter of potential importance in suppression of greenhouse gas emissions and decontamination. Drs. Tianran Sun and Johannes Lehmann, and colleagues, show that the contribution of pyrogenic carbon to electron fluxes could be considerable.
An immunologist, a molecular biologist and Olena Vatamaniuk, plant scientist in the SIPS Section of Soil and Crop Science, have each received awards from the Schwartz Research Fund for Women in Life Sciences.
Reuters and Clarivate Analytics identified scientists whose publications are in the top 1% of their fields for journal citations from 2004 to 2014. Professor Lehmann is one of 16 faculty at Cornell to receive this distinction, and one of 5 in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Adapt-N, an initiative of Professor van Es, Soil and Crop Sciences, is one of the five finalists! The purpose of the challenge is to find in-field solutions to hypoxia that reduce nitrogen runoff from crop fertilizers into rivers. Such runoff from the nation's farmlands is considered the primary cause of annual dead zones. (Best of luck to the Adapt-N research team!)
Cornell experts Harold van Es, Soil and Crop Sciences section, and Joshua Woodard, Applied Economics and Management, issued a report “Digital Agriculture in New York State” highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing the state's farmers and food producers as emerging digital technologies shape the agricultural industry.
In a presentation to global leaders battling climate change and feeding a burgeoning world population, Dawit Solomon, senior research associate in the Soil and Crop Sciences section, presented food security ideas to stave off the Earth's atmospheric warming.
A project led by Cornell researchers Dan Buckley and Johannes Lehmann, Soil and Crop Sciences section, to better understand soil microbes and their role in the carbon cycle has received a three-year, $3.59 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
New Cornell research by Dominic Woolf and Professor Johannes Lehmann, from Cornell’s Soil and Crop Sciences section, suggests an economically viable model to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to thwart runaway, point-of-no-return global warming. (Click here for the article.)
The tri-societies, including the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) are presenting national awards at the national meetings in Phoenix, AZ on November 6-9, 2016. Cornell professor Janice Thies will receive the fellow award from SSSA and the fellow award from ASA. Cornell will also be well represented as Harold van Es is the President of SSSA in 2016.
Ancient Farming Practice Reduces Pollution
Oct 31, 2016
Using a technique similar to composting – but with a twist – West African farmers create rich soil that absorbs global-warming carbon dioxide. Hear the Yale Climate Connections radio spot with Dawit Solomon, faculty member in Cornell’s Soil and Crop Sciences section.
We have it easier than cows. When we want to know how much fat, sodium, or carbohydrates are in the food we are eating, we can usually check the nutrition label on the food’s package. But cows haven't had access to detailed nutrition facts about their forage. Until recently.
Organic dairy farmers in the Northeast have taken a beating over the last several years due to extreme weather, but a new grant will support a project that aims at solutions.
The Tent Casually Observed Phenologies
Oct 14, 2016
For one day only, Brooklyn-based artist James Leonard is putting up his “Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies” between Bradfield and Rice Halls, on October 14, 2016. Between 10am and 5pm, visitors can probe climate futures and get tarot readings to help them grapple with today’s environmental issues. His readings do not replace hard facts and scientific data on climate change. The tarot readings serve as a framework to talk about anxieties of an increasingly uncertain and rapidly changing future.
The event is organized and part of the Environmental and Sustainability Science Colloquium (Riha and Lehmann), co-organized by the Johnson Museum, and supported by the Department of Natural Resources. More information about the artist and his project under http://jamesleonard.org/work/
Ann Bybee-Finley, graduate student in the section of Soil and Crop Sciences, researches intercropping at Cornell University. Intercropping is a complex practice of farming where different plant species are grown in the same space.
Farmers and farm suppliers explain the benefits of Adapt-N
As New York's dairy farms get larger and store more manure, methane emissions have doubled in the last two decades. To reduce this potent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, Cornell researchers advocate combustion.
“There were piles of bones that nobody was using at the time,” says Cornell University soil scientist Dawit Solomon, a native of Ethiopia. Solomon and colleagues decided to turn the mountains of slaughtered cattle, sheep and goat carcasses into a local fertilizer source.
Faculty members Harold van Es, Carla Gomes and Joshua Woodard will present their innovative research at the intersection of computation, food and sustainability at the World Economic Forum June 26-28 in Tianjin, China.
How Africans Are Saving Their Own Soil
Jun 22, 2016
Cornell faculty member Dr. Dawitt Solomon, and colleagues, explain the value of studying traditional African methods of soil enrichment in a recently published scientific paper and a National Geographic feature
A recent article in USNews & World Report concludes that education in agriculture sciences provide STEM education that can lead to exciting career opportunities. For example, Cornell professor DiTommaso points out that “airborne multi-spectral imagery allows for remote sensing to differentiate weeds from crops in a field, for more effective and targeted control.”
The dietary preferences of deer may be promoting the spread of such invasive species as garlic mustard, Japanese barberry and Japanese stiltgrass, according to a new study, by Kristine Averill, research associate in Soil and Crop Sciences and the article's lead author in the Journal Biological Invasions.
Professor Murray McBride, Soil and Crop Sciences, and Hannah Shayler, Cornell Waste Management Institute, along with researchers from NYS Department of Health, estimate that some gardeners who toil in urban gardens and children at play in them could be exposed to lead levels that exceed FDA thresholds, as reported in Environmental Geochemistry and Health.
Harold van Es, Professor in the Section of Soil & Crop Sciences, and Hannah Swegarden, PhD candidate in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, traveled to Washington DC March 14-15 to participate in the 2016 Congressional Visits Day.
Johannes Lehmann, one of nine Cornell professors named to a list of the most influential scientific minds for 2015 compiled by Thompson Reuters and based on how often faculty members' research is cited.
Cornell professors Matt Ryan and Neil Mattson describe the new Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA), which aims to strengthen agriculture in the face of a changing climate. The project will to help train and educate farmers on how to adapt to a changing climate and reduce their impact on the environment.
Nyle Brady, a professor and leader in soil science, died Nov. 24 in Colorado at age 95. He joined Cornell in 1947 and held leadership roles in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Nyle was the Chair of Soil and Crop Sciences from 1955-1963.
In the fight to protect the environment, achieve food security and promote sustainable development, agricultural scientists, Professor Johannes Lehmann, Soil and Crop Sciences Section in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and Professor Markus Kleber, Oregon State University, advocate for new and improved soil research models that accurately forecast climate change.
A new method that allows geoscientists to tease out the exact inputs from three different sources, with implications for modeling and predicting climate change.
The study, published in Nature Communications, is authored by Thea Whitman, Ph.D. '14 a former graduate student of co-author Professor Johannes Lehmann.
Cornell researchers will travel to Paris as part of the university's delegation to the global climate change summit, COP21. Delegations from over 190 countries and more than 50,000 people will attend. Professor Johannes Lehmann, Soil and Crop Sciences Section in the School of Integrative Plant Science is one of the Cornell delegates.
SCS faculty receiving awards at the Tri-Societies annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN
Nov 10, 2015
The tri-societies, including the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) are presenting national awards at the national meetings in Minneapolis, MN, November 15-18, 2015. Cornell award recipients include professors Tim Setter, Peter Hobbs and Tony DiTommaso. Harold van Es is the President-Elect for SSSA. Read more about the national awards.
Susan Hoskins receives the 2015 Virginia Figura Award
Oct 28, 2015
Susan Hoskins, Senior Extension Associate in the SCS Section, was presented the award by the New York Geographic Alliance in recognition of her distinguished service to geographic education in NYS. Susan has taught many mapping workshops for educators through the Alliance and has contributed to NOAA/National Geographic educator professional development grants for mapping the Susquehanna River watershed and other river basins in New York. Susan is a faculty-member in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and member of Cornell’s Institute for Resource Information Sciences.
Professor Kochian, adjunct professor in Soil and Crop Science and in Plant Biology at Cornell University, has been named to the Agricultural Research Service Science Hall of Fame. The award honors USDA-ARS senior agency researchers for outstanding, lifelong achievements in agricultural science and technology. His work has unraveled the strategies that plants use to tolerate acid soils which are high in toxic soluble aluminum. This environmental constrain is especially prevalent in the highly weathered soils of the tropics and subtropics. His work has also elucidated plant processes involved in mineral nutrition.
A paper in Geoderma entitled ‘Can citizen science assist digital soil mapping?’ by David Rossiter, Adjunct Associate Professor, is prominently featured in an editorial in Nature and makes the case that, yes, non-specialists can help expert soil scientists to track quality, properties and types of soil.
In his 16 years of teaching at Cornell University, Antonio DiTommaso has taught more than 1,000 students in his weed science and integrated pest management courses. The evaluations of many of these students contributed to the decision of The Crop Science Society of America award.
Is there a universal science?
Carmen Enid Martínez, a new associate professor in the Soil and Crop Sciences section of the School of Integrative Plant Sciences, thinks there is: chemistry. She might be biased, as a soil and environmental chemist herself, but she says the work she is doing in her lab is certainly universally applicable. Read the full article in CALS Notes.
Jean Bonhotal receives US Composting Council Award
Feb 18, 2015
Jean Bonhotal was awarded the distinguished Rufus Chaney Award by the US Composting Council at the USCC Annual Conference and Trade Show in January 2015 in Austin, TX. The award goes to recipients who excel in research and education over a period of many years. Jean has dedicated her career at the Cornell Waste Management Institute to research and technical assistance to a range of audiences, including youth, college students, extension, farmers and solid waste managers.
Crop and Soil Sciences presented the 2014 MacDonald-Musgrave Awards for excellence to: Mary Ellen Niederhofer, Rachel Hestrin and Jerry Cherney. These important honors are given based on exceptional performance and professional contributions to the Soil and Crop Sciences Section. Congratulations!
In a recent article in the journal Nature, Cornell’s professor of soil science, Johannes Lehmann, is quoted as saying that different types of biochar “have unique potential to mitigate some of the greatest soil-health constraints to crop productivity.” The article is in the January 14, 2015 issue of Nature.
The nitrogen recommendation system Adapt-N, which originated in the lab of soil science professor Harold van Es, has ‘graduated’ from Cornell’s venture development center. ATC, a technology startup at Cornell, which makes the system available to corn growers, has obtained capital investment and will expand on its own.
Cornell soil scientist Johannes Lehmann speaks about climate change mitigation strategies for the UN COP 20 Climate Change Conference held December 2014 in Lima, Peru. Lehmann addresses the potential of biochar for sequestering carbon and improving soil health.
December 5th has been designated "World Soil Day" by the International Union of Soil Sciences, the FAO, and the UN General Assembly. World Soil Day will serve as a celebration of "the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human well-being."
In support of World Soil Day, the Section of Soil and Crop Sciences invites faculty, staff and students to drop by a display in Mann Library foyer from 9-5 on December 5th, 2014. We will be using posters, hands on displays and video clips to educate observers about the importance of soils from multiple perspectives. Come see what all the excitement is about!
The tri-societies, including the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) presented national awards at the national meetings in Long Beach, California in November 1-5, 2014. Several Cornell University faculty and students were among those recognized.
Read Bill Gates blog post during his visit to Cornell about field crops research being done on corn and cassava.
Building Agricultural Research
Oct 6, 2014
Greater investment in agricultural research is advocated by Donald Kennedy, president emeritus at Stanford University and a former editor-in-chief of Science, to assure our ability to sustain the looming population increase. In an editorial published in the October 3, 2014 issue of Science, he concludes that “The much-needed revolutions in agriculture can only come about through the investments that we make now.” Read more
Adapt-N is an on-line tool that provides location-specific, weather-adjusted nitrogen (N) recommendations for corn. At sidedress time, critical early-season weather that strongly influences actual N needs is incorporated into the recommendation.
For the first time in New York or the northeastern U.S., a serious disease called ‘northern stem canker’ was confirmed in New York soybean fields. Reported yield losses in the Midwest have ranged from minor to in excess of 50%, so the presence of the pathogen is considered a significant factor for soybean production.
A collaborative project has been initiated among partners at NH NRCS, Cornell, Greenstart, NH Conservation Districts, and NH farms in four counties. The goal was to develop a framework for a soil health test-informed Soil Health Management Plan (SHMP), analogous with the NRCS’s Nutrient Management Plan, but with biological and physical test results to be considered, in addition to standard soil test results.
All perennial weeds can be troublesome, however “deep-rooted”, creeping perennial broadleaf weeds such as field bindweed, hemp dogbane, horsenettle, and common milkweed are among the most difficult to control. Like annual and biennial weeds, these perennials reproduce by forming seed. In addition, they spread by rhizomes (underground stems).
Corn acreage for grain in NY, as of June 1, is expected to total 660,000 acres in 2014, a decrease of about 4% from 2013 (690,000 acres). Corn acreage for silage production in NY, as of June 1, is expected to total 500,000 acres in 2014, down about 2% from 2013 (510,000 acres). Only 58% of the corn in NY was planted by June 1, however, so grain acreage could decrease further because of maturity concerns for June-planted corn, especially on dairy farms.
Most agronomists agree that growers should plant soybeans at the 1.5 inch depth because the seed is vulnerable to drying out at shallower depths and crusting problems at deeper planting depths, both which result in reduced emergence.
Most agronomists agree that a ~2.0 inch planting depth is usually optimum for corn establishment in northern latitudes that receive ample rainfall during the spring. A shallower planting depth, especially less than 1.5 inches, may lead to early-season root lodging associated with shallow nodal root development or corn injury from pre-emergence herbicides.
Professor Antonio DiTommaso, Cornell Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, in cooperation with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Invasive Species Statewide Program, held a one-day hands-on workshop on weed seedling identification for PRISM partners. Scott Morris, Kathy Howard, and Courtney Stokes, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, assisted with the workshop.
Five departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences – Plant Biology, Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Crop and Soil Sciences, and Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology – have been consolidated into the School of Integrative Plant Science.
Adapt-N is an on-line tool for weather-adjusted precision nitrogen management in corn that has been available to growers in the Northeast and several Midwestern states since 2010 (http://adapt-n.cals.cornell.edu). In 2013, with an uncharacteristically wet spring, the tool successfully adapted N recommendations to account for early-season N dynamics, and further demonstrated its ability to improve farmer profits.
Arnold Richardson has had his eye on Adapt-N since 2009, when the tool for weather-adapted sidedress nitrogen recommendations first became available. Of a self-described “competitive nature,” the Red Creek, NY farmer is constantly seeking and testing new strategies that can improve his farm system and boost yields and profits. After several years of watching the development of Adapt-N and its success in early on-farm trials, Richardson conducted strip trials of the Cornell nitrogen management tool in three fields in 2013.
Professor Olena Vatamaniuk and colleagues have discovered that a transporter protein is involved in iron as well as cadmium partitioning. The work, which is reported in a recent article in Plant Cell, is a multidisciplinary collaboration including current PhD student Sheena Gayomba, as well as several other current and former students, and colleagues at the USDA, Purdue University, University of Aberdeen, and Dartmouth College.
Professor Johannes Lehmann suggests in a recent issue of Nature Geoscience that “Rather than thinking of biochar as a one-size-fits-all soil enhancer, we need to focus on developing tailor-made biochar systems for individual applications that take into account soil type, climate and social setting.”
What's Cropping Up? Vol. 24, No. 2: NY corn growers typically plant 1.15 million acres annually, making NY the 17th leading state in the USA in corn acres. NY is unique, in that planted corn acreage fluctuates between an approximate 50:50 ratio of grain corn and corn silage.
Professor Peter Hobbs Receives NACTA Teaching Award
Apr 21, 2014
Professor Peter Hobbs is the 2014 recipient of the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Teaching Award. This award is presented to a faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to teaching in agricultural sciences. Hobbs was presented with this award at the Dean’s Awards Reception on April 21.
What's Cropping Up? Vol. 24, No. 2: Soybean is the agricultural commodity in New York that has increased the most in both acreage and value over the last 25 years. The $195M value of soybean in 2012 ranked the crop as the 6th leading agricultural commodity in New York.
What's Cropping Up? Vol. 24, No. 2: Acetochlor herbicide products received registration approval in New York in February 2013 providing New York growers with a valuable new tool and an expanded array of options for weed control.
The Cornell University Weed Team sends graduate student Courtney Stokes to the 2013 North Central and Northeastern Collegiate Weed competition in Illinois for two days of brutal, mind-bending, grueling agronomic combat on July 24-25.