Cornell Vegetable Program Enrollment

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  • Pest Management
  • Cultural Practices

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  • On-Farm Research Trials

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Soil Health

CVP Soil Health

Excess rains and droughts of the past decade pointed out the poor health and productivity of soils on many local vegetable farms. Coupled with high fuel prices and high fertilizer prices, growers have been eager to improve their soil management efforts. Reduced tillage leads to less fuel use and legume cover crops allow the farmer to grow nitrogen fertilizer, reducing their need for conventional fertilizer and the fuel and labor to apply it.

The Cornell Soil Health Test can be used to determine your field's soil management for percentage of water-stable aggregates. A soil with low % water-stable aggregates has  poor crop emergence, more crusting, more runoff, reduced root growth, increased root diseases, and fewer beneficial microbes to cycle soil nutrients.

Vegetable farms using conventional tillage and few cover crops had an average of just 18% water-stable aggregates, while farms using reduced tillage or extensive cover cropping averaged 36-39%. Innovative growers are now beginning to adopt both strategies to improve soils even more.

In addition, the Cornell Vegetable Program is working with a number of conventional and organic vegetable growers on increasing the use of a wide range of cover crops to fill open niches in rotations to improve soil health and grow nitrogen.






Factsheet: Greenhouse Gases and Soil Organic Carbon in Vegetable Production

Elizabeth Buck, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 15, 2022
Factsheet: Greenhouse Gases and Soil Organic Carbon in Vegetable Production

The intersection of agricultural production and greenhouse gases is gathering increasing attention. This is an opportune time to consider how vegetable production interacts with carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions, and how using cover crops may alter this picture. 

The factsheet, Greenhouse Gases and Soil Organic Carbon in Vegetable Production and the Role of Cover Crops, discusses:

  • Sequestration of atmospheric carbon in agricultural soils as soil organic carbon (SOC). Is vegetable production impacting SOC?
  • Net greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4) from the soil.
  • Impact of cover crops on soil organic carbon, nitrous oxide emissions, and other GHG emissions.


Video: Farmer Ingenuity - Combining Plastic and Living Mulch

Last Modified: May 2, 2022

In this how-to video, we show how farmers combine plastic and living mulch to reduce weed pressure, improve soil health, and harvest cleaner vegetables. Now that's a win-win-win!


Video: Winter Cover Cropping in High Tunnels -- March 2021 Update

Judson Reid, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: March 16, 2021

To meet the year-round demand for locally produced food, vegetable farmers have embraced protected agriculture to extend their growing season, improve yields, and enhance crop quality. However, a statewide survey found that after several growing seasons, farmers struggle to maintain productivity due to challenges in long term soil health and fertility management. Cornell Cooperative Extension is exploring practices that high tunnel growers can adopt to better manage soil fertility and improve soil health. 

One practice is including winter cover crops in rotations as a way to scavenge leftover nitrogen and/or fix nitrogen. In turn, this could lead to less fertilizer use and result in higher crop health, yield, quality, and profitability. As part of this work, we are investigating suitable cover crop species, seeding dates, and seeding rates. This video highlights this project's goals and preliminary updates as of March 2021.


How to Take a Soil Sample

Amy Ivy, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

Last Modified: January 14, 2019
How to Take a Soil Sample

Soil sampling is an important part of managing your crops, but it's important to do it correctly. In this video, ENYCHP vegetable specialist Amy Ivy demonstrates how to take a soil sample.


High Tunnel Best Management Practices for Long Term Soil Health and Fertility

Judson Reid, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: March 19, 2018
High Tunnel Best Management Practices for Long Term Soil Health and Fertility

These best management practices were selected by experienced high tunnel growers and extension staff as a result of a four year project tracking economic, soil and irrigation water data from high tunnels across New York State. They can be used remedially, or implemented in a new high tunnel system.

Adding Cover Crops to Your Farm? Consider the Herbicide Rotation Restrictions

Darcy Telenko, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 19, 2016
Adding Cover Crops to Your Farm? Consider the Herbicide Rotation Restrictions

One challenge to adding cover crops to your vegetable production system is that herbicides with residual activity may interfere with cover crop establishment and growth. Residual herbicides are a key management tool in vegetable production, especially for management of difficult weeds and their potential to help control herbicide-resistant weeds. Here are some questions to consider when utilizing a cover crop and how well it will work with your herbicide program.

Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers Website

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: August 17, 2015
Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers Website

This website enables growers to use a broader range of cover crops to improve soil health in many ways. Cover crop descriptions, seeding, seed sources, cost and management challenges are included.




Soil Health Grant Offers Cover Crop Evaluations and the Cornell Soil Health Test

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 22, 2014

The Cornell Vegetable Program just received a two year grant to work with vegetable, potato and dry bean growers in the Cornell Vegetable Program Region to increase or diversify their cover cropping, and/or to reduce tillage. For cooperating growers soil sampling, soil testing, and interpretation for the Cornell Soil Health Test (CSHT) will be free. Evaluation of biomass, weed growth, nitrogen produced, crop response, etc. can be done for new cover crop plantings being tried. Reduced/zone-tilled crops planted side by side with conventional crops can also be evaluated. Field days are part of this grant, as is assistance for grower discussion groups/grower-to-grower networking.

More money than ever is available as an incentive for adoption of good soil health practices!

SARE Cover Crop Topic Room: Current Research from Across the Nation

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: June 7, 2013
SARE Cover Crop Topic Room: Current Research from Across the Nation

A section of the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) website, the cover crop topic room provides educational materials developed from cover crop research. Topics include selection and management, economics, establishment, rotations, soil and fertility management, water management, pest management, and no-till.

Making the Most of Cover Crop Mixtures

Last Modified: April 22, 2013
Making the Most of Cover Crop Mixtures

Cover crops are an important tool that farmers can use to generate benefits and services on the farm and for society, including improved soil health, nutrient supply to cash crops, weed suppression, insect pest management, forage production, pollinator resources, and clean water and air. There are many different cover crop species to choose from, and each cover crop species has different abilities to provide the services described above. Planting a mixture of cover crop species is one strategy that can be used to enhance and diversify the benefits that a cover crop provides. This article will describe some of the basic concepts to consider when planning a cover crop mixture, such as meeting different farm management objectives, selecting complementary species, and methods for establishing cover crop mixtures.

Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production

Christy Hoepting, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: January 7, 2013
Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production

The problem with using conventional tillage practices for onion production on muck soils is that it results in the subsidence of muck via wind and water erosion and oxidation of organic matter at a rate of one foot every 10 years, which is not sustainable for preserving these non-renewable natural  resources for long-term productivity. Onions are one of the most valuable vegetable crops produced in New York State with the majority of the 13,000 acres being grown on muck soil. Producing onions using conventional tillage practices results in degradation of soil health and increased subsidence.


more crops
Asparagus

Asparagus

Beets

Beets

Broccoli

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cabbage

Carrots

Carrots

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Melons

Melons

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

Peas

Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Pumpkins / Gourds

Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Rutabaga

Snap Beans

Snap Beans

Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

Squash- Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Turnips

Turnips

more crops

Upcoming Events

Chautauqua Winter Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

February 10, 2023
Clymer, NY

Meeting will feature growers from Ohio sharing their production know-how and thoughts on food safety. Other topics include weed control, pesticide safety, and the impact of poor crop nutrition. 0.75 DEC credits in 1a, 23 plus 0.5 in CORE, which is good for all categories. Trade show booths available. 

Meeting cost is $20/person, includes snacks and educational materials. Registration required by 4 pm on Friday, February 3. 

Orleans Regional Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

February 15, 2023
Albion, NY

Offering presentations in pesticide safety, tips for managing diseases in vegetable crops, how to attract beneficial insects to your field, herbicide options for cole crops, and strawberry disease information. Meeting cost is $10 per person, payable at the door via cash or check. Pre-registration requested by 5:00 pm on Monday, February 13.

DEC credits available: 2.25 in 1a and 10; 2.0 in 23; 1.5 in 22; and 0.5 in CORE (used in all categories)!!

NYS Processing Vegetable Industry Roundtable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

March 15, 2023 : Morning Session: Snap Beans, Sweet Corn, and Peas
Batavia, NY

Processing vegetable industry members who grow, manage, or support snap bean, sweet corn, or pea production for Nortera and/or Seneca Foods, should attend this session of the roundtable meeting. You will:

  • Network at this in-person meeting.
  • Learn the results of industry-funded research.
  • Have a voice in Cornell research and extension.
  • Earn 2.0 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, 23 and CCA recertification credits.

This FREE event is followed by lunch! Pre-registration requested.


March 15, 2023 : Lunch Break and Networking

Lunch is FREE to anyone attending either the Morning Session or the Afternoon Session of the NYS Processing Vegetable Industry Roundtable Meeting. Registration is required.


Event Offers DEC Credits

March 15, 2023 : Afternoon Session: Beets and Carrots
Batavia, NY

Processing vegetable industry members who grow, manage, or support beet or carrot production for Nortera, Seneca Foods and/or Love Beets, should attend this session of the roundtable meeting. You will:

  • Network at this in-person meeting.
  • Learn the results of industry-funded research.
  • Have a voice in Cornell research and extension.
  • Earn 2.0 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, 23 and CCA recertification credits.

Lunch is provided before this session. It's FREE! Pre-registration requested. 

Announcements

2022 Year in Review Released

Our 2022 Year in Review report highlights some of our 2022 projects and community outreach efforts impacting commercial vegetable, greenhouse, potato, and dry bean producers in 14 counties of western and central New York, and beyond.
  • Education and Technical Assistance Provided to Providence Farm Collective
  • Engineering Improvements in Biodegradable Mulch
  • Perseverance Leads to Solution for Perennial Sowthistle in Onion
  • Potato Programming Spans Farms of All Sizes
  • Improving Winter High Tunnel Soil Nitrogen Management
  • Laser Scarecrows Tested on Local Farms
  • New York Vegetable Industry Support
Cornell Cooperative Extension is Your Trusted Source for Research-Based Knowledge!

Small-Scale Fresh Mkt Potato Variety Trial Results

This year, the Cornell Vegetable Program planted a potato variety trial focused on commercially available fresh market potato varieties, with the small-scale potato grower in mind. This trial allowed us to test different varieties of potatoes that might be of interest to consumers at farm markets and see how well they perform in a western NY climate. 

We've posted a brief overview of our results on the Potato page.

If you would like the full report (PDF with photos and yield data) emailed to you, email Margie Lund.

New Ag Climate Factsheet Released

The intersection of agricultural production and greenhouse gases is gathering increasing attention. This is an opportune time to consider how vegetable production interacts with carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions, and how using cover crops may alter this picture.

The factsheet, Greenhouse Gases and Soil Organic Carbon in Vegetable Production and the Role of Cover Crops, written by Zach Spangler, Ag Climate Resiliency Specialist with CCE Harvest NY, and Elizabeth Buck, Fresh Market Vegetable Specialist, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program, discusses:
  • Sequestration of atmospheric carbon in agricultural soils as soil organic carbon (SOC). Is vegetable production impacting SOC?
  • Net greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4) from the soil.
  • Impact of cover crops on soil organic carbon, nitrous oxide emissions, and other GHG emissions.