We are studying the patterns of attack by a community of insect herbivores on plants; the work involves field biology, chemical ecology, genetics, and entomology. Our basic research involves milkweed plants, nearly 120 species from North America (and 20 from South America), which grow in various habitats and are attacked by a specialized community of insects. Some of the work is evolutionary in terms of quantifying phylogenetic patterns associated with the evolution of specialization (in insects parasites) and other work is more ecological, based on community interactions.
New York state needs jobs and economic activity, growers need outlets for waste products such as manures, and the entire world needs technologies that enhance food security and reduce pollution. For many years, we have been developing technologies that do these things. (See, for example, my other impact statements.)
In addition, Cornell University has recently created the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park (AgTech Park), including a 1,500-square-foot laboratory that has been unoccupied until now.
A major infestation of arborvitae leafminer was diagnosed after examination of severe and debilitating defoliation in several stands totaling 50k cv. Nigra arborvitae trees. Pest sampling and monitoring protocols were developed based on live trapping and degree-day accumulations and were used to time several applications of contact and systemic insecticides. The infestation was halted resulting in a wholesale saving of $35/tree or $1.75 million for the grower.
Urban community gardens provide many benefits; however, garden soils (and urban soils in particular) can contain contaminants that may pose risks to human health. The nature and extent of contamination in many areas remain poorly understood. In addition to this knowledge gap, gardeners and other community stakeholders have identified a need for support in considering risks associated with soil contamination and implementing strategies to reduce those risks.
This research program is aimed at improving the sustainability of the floriculture industry by developing practices that allow producers to produce high-value crops while using fertilizers, water and energy resources efficiently. For example, floriculture yield losses often result from poor irrigation water quality or improper fertilization practices. The improved efficiency of water and fertilizers has the potential to decrease fertilizer leaching, which will help protect our state's water resources.
An enormous interest exists for increasing the use of forests to supply energy. It is expected that many forest owners will be seeking ways to manage their forests to extract greater amounts of material from them, and the long-term health and sustainability of the forests will be greatly enhanced if these owners can be given a prescription for management that allows sustainable extraction of material without compromising the ability of the forest to increase carbon sequestration or the habitat support for maintenance and improvement of the biodiversity of species.
Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC (CUCE-NYC) planned and delivered landscape horticulture professional development training courses of varying levels and intensity to multiple audiences, including grounds maintenance staff of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), professionals and green jobs trainees, and as part of the Sustainable South Bronx’s BEST Academy for green collar jobs training.
Impact Summary: The Northeastern IPM Center, jointly administered by Cornell University and The Pennsylvania State University, works with New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the New England states. We foster the development and adoption of integrated pest management, managing pests in ways that generate economic, environmental, and human health benefits. We work in partnership with stakeholders from agricultural, urban, and rural settings to identify and address regional priorities for research, education, and outreach.
We currently have NSF funding from the Informal Science Education Program to support development of a new project, The YardMap Network, for which we are creating simple, visual mapping tools to gather data on habitat and sustainable practices in backyards, parks, and public spaces.
The Network for Environment & Weather Awareness (NEWA), a network of electronic weather stations collecting data on farms, partners with the Northeast Regional Climate Center for data acquisition, quality control, weather information delivery and pest forecast model programming. NEWA users report that they can save, on average, up to $19,500 per year in spray costs and prevent, on average, up to $264,000 per year in crop loss as a direct result of using NEWA pest forecast models.