Cornell Vegetable Program Enrollment

Program Areas

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  • Educational Meetings & Conferences
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  • On-Farm Research Trials

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Soil Health

Soil HealthExcess 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.






Relevant Event

2019 Empire State Producers EXPO

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 15 - January 17, 2019
1.25 hr sessions throughout each day
Syracuse, NY

Most Recent Soil Health Content

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.

Video: Moving a High Tunnel

Cordelia Machanoff, Program Aide
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: May 19, 2016
Video: Moving a High Tunnel

Vegetable farmers have embraced the use of high tunnels to enhance productivity and quality of warm weather crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers. Growers meeting the demand for fresh market produce through high tunnel production face a unique set of soil management challenges. Intensive cropping minimizes opportunities for fallow periods, cover cropping and other techniques for maintaining soil health and fertility. The plastic covering prevents rain from leaching the profile, leading to excess salts and alkalinity. By choosing a moveable tunnel design, like the one in this video, a grower can grow a protected crop continuously while allowing for fallow periods, cover cropping and movement of excess salts through the soil profile. Moveable tunnels can be moved laterally (as shown) or pulled lengthwise to cover an already established crop (ie. move the tunnel from summer tomatoes over fall greens).


More Soil Health Content

Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers Website
Living Mulch Project Update
Soil Health Grant Offers Cover Crop Evaluations and the Cornell Soil Health Test
SARE Cover Crop Topic Room: Current Research from Across the Nation
Making the Most of Cover Crop Mixtures
Spring Application of Winter Rye Grain for Weed Control in Summer Vegetables
2009 Elba Muck Soil Nutrient Survey Summary
Preventing Muck Soil Erosion by Reducing Tillage in Onion Production
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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
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Upcoming Events

Finger Lakes Produce Auction Educational Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 3, 2019
8:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Penn Yan, NY

This meeting is our annual winter educational event for Finger Lakes Produce Auction growers. This year we focus on disease management in cole crops, strawberries, food safety and greenhouse flowers. 2.0 recertification credits in private vegetable category.
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Ontario Produce Auction Winter Growers Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 9, 2019
9:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Stanley, NY

This meeting is our annual winter educational event for Ontario Produce Auction growers. This year we focus on disease management in high tunnel tomatoes, vine crops and greenhouse flowers. Grower and buyer panels will be presented as well irrigation and plastic mulch. DEC pesticide applicator recertification credits have been requested.
view details

2019 Empire State Producers EXPO

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 15 - January 17, 2019
1.25 hr sessions throughout each day
Syracuse, NY

The 2019 Empire State Producers Expo combines the major fruit, flower and vegetable associations of New York State in order to provide a comprehensive trade show and educational conference for New York producers, as well as the surrounding states and Eastern Canada. 
view details
view calendar of events

Announcements

Checklist for Cleaning a Root Barrel Washer

Don't miss those hard-to-reach places in your root barrel washer! Here is a checklist of areas to remember to clean to obtain an acceptable level of cleanliness completed in a reasonable about of time. Critical cleaning points are identified. 

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