Agriculture

Urban Agriculture Graduation

2018 Urban Agriculture graduates from the UConn Extension program
Standing (left-right): Dr. German Cutz, Ecuadorian Consulate Representative, Franzel Ansah, Farron Harvey, Dr. Michael O’Neil (Associate Dean UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources), Angela Cusicanqui, Christopher Cane, Chef Mona Jackson (Cook and Grow), Diana Chacon, Olga Peralta, Cristina Sandolo (Executive Director of Green Village Initiate), Cornelia Olsen, Zonia Menendez, Marcial Menendez. Front (left-right): Richard Brana, Jane Jacobus, Renita Crawford, Fidelina Linares, I Messiah

UConn Extension in collaboration with Green Village Initiative offered the Urban Agriculture Program in Bridgeport, Connecticut from November 2017 to November 2018. A new group of urban farmers graduated on December 7, 2018. The UConn Extension urban agriculture program consists of three components: classroom instruction, hands-on vegetable production, and entrepreneurship. To complete the program students need to pass five modules including botany, soils, entomology, vegetable production, and Integrated Pest Management, with 70% or higher grade. Congratulations to the new Urban Farmers!!!

 

The urban agriculture program will be offered as follows:

Bridgeport: Starts on January 10, 2019

Bethel: Starts on January 8, 2019.

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La Extensión de la Universidad de Connecticut en colaboración con Green Village Initiative ofrecieron el programa de Agricultura Urbana en Bridgeport, Connecticut de Noviembre 2017 a Noviembre 2018. Un nuevo grupo de agricultores urbanos se graduaron el 7 de Diciembre, 2018. El programa de agricultura urbana de la Extensión de UConn consiste de tres componentes: clases teóricas, producción de vegetales, y negocios. Para completar el programa los estudiantes necesitan pasar cada modulo, que incluye botánica, suelos, entomología, producción de vegetales, y Manejo Integrado de Plagas con 70 puntos o más. Felicitaciones a los nuevos Agricultores Urbanos!!!

 

El programa de Agricultura Urbana se ofrece como sigue:

Bridgeport: Inicia el 10 de Enero, 2019

Bethel: Inicia el 8 de Enero, 2019

Soil pH – The Master Variable

The UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab tests for and analyzes multiple soil parameters; but none as critical, and as often overlooked, as pH. Soil pH plays a crucial role in the growth of vegetation planted, as well as ground water quality. Before we start talking about soil pH, I think it is a good idea to try to define what exactly pH is, and how it is determined.

When most of us think of pH, a pool probably comes to mind. I remember growing up, watching my mother apply different chemicals to our pool, and impatiently wondering why I had to wait to go swimming. She would tell me that she was adjusting the pH of the water to ensure it was safe to swim in. The basic understanding is that pH is tells us how acidic, neutral, or alkaline something is. To get a little more technical, pH is the measurement of the activity of Hydrogen Ions (H+) in an aqueous solution. The equation for determining and quantifying pH is:

pH = -log10 (aH+)

(aH+= Hydrogen Ion Activity in Moles/L)

We express pH on a logarithmic scale of 0-14, where 0-6 is considered “acidic”, 7 is “neutral”, and 8-14 is “basic”.

soil pH scale
Image from: http://www.edu.pe.ca/gulfshore/Archives/ACIDSBAS/scipage.htm

Mineral soil pH values generally range from 3.0 – 10.0. There are numerous factors that determine soil pH including climate, parent material, weathering, relief, and time. Texture and organic matter content also influence soil pH. Most Connecticut soils are naturally acidic. Nutrient availability is directly influenced by pH with most plants (with some exceptions) thriving at pH values between 6 and 7. A majority of nutrients are available within this range.

Our lab measures pH using an 1:1 soil-to-DI water ratio. The saturated soil paste is mixed, then is analyzed using a glass electrode and a pH meter. We calibrate our meter using 2 solutions with known pH values, 4 and 7. We use these values because we expect most Connecticut soils to fall within this range. Once the initial pH value is obtained, a buffering agent is added. In our lab we use the Modified Mehlich Buffer. A second pH reading is obtained, and from these two values plus crop information, we are able to make limestone and/or sulfur recommendations.

The Buffering Capacity of a soil is the resistance it has to change in pH. Soil buffering is controlled by its Cation-Exchange-Capacity, Aluminum content (in acidic soils), organic matter content, and texture. A soil with a lot of organic matter and clay will have a higher buffering capacity than one with little organic matter that is mostly sandy.

If the soil pH is lower than the target range for a particular plant, limestone would be recommended. Whether you use pelletized, ground or granular limestone, the application rate would be the same. Once the target pH is reached, a maintenance application of 50 lbs/1000 sq ft would be applied every other year to maintain it.

If the soil pH is higher than desired, sulfur recommendations are made. Typically only powdered sulfur is available locally but granular sulfur could be mail ordered. Aluminum sulfate can be substituted for sulfur and used at a higher rate. Check out this listof preferred pH ranges for many common plants.

Monitoring your soil pH is essential to ensure that it is falling within the range best suited for the vegetation you are growing. The Standard Nutrient Analysis performed at our lab gives you a pH value, a buffer pH value, a lime/sulfur recommendation, available micro & macro nutrient levels, and a fertilizer recommendation. For more information on pH, you can contact Dawn or myself (Joe) at the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab (www.soiltest.uconn.edu). Test, don’t guess!

By Joe C.

Livestock BCS Video Series

We have a new video series on Body Condition Scoring (BCS) for livestock. Our Tri-State SARE project produced videos for beef cattle, swine, sheep, and goats. You can view the entire series at: http://s.uconn.edu/bcs

The Tri-State SARE project, Nutrition’s Role in Sustainable Livestock Production, focuses on animal nutrition as it relates to health and well-being of animals, pasture management and nutrient management decisions/plans. This project is designed to increase engagement of Cooperative Extension Personnel in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Departments of Agriculture, other state and local agencies, USDA agencies and NGOs, and farmers in the production, processing and marketing of natural locally grown meats and other products for consumers.

This project is designed to increase engagement of Cooperative Extension Personnel in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Departments of Agriculture, other state and local agencies, USDA agencies and NGOs, and farmers in the production, processing and marketing of natural locally grown meats and other products for consumers.

Bedding Plant Program for Greenhouse Growers Offered

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

UConn Extension offers Bedding Plant Program for Greenhouse Growers

Get the latest information on insect and disease management, proper watering techniques and mixing pesticide formulations and network with fellow growersThis educational program will feature the following topics of interest to those who produce spring ornamental crops in the greenhouse:

  • Watering: Air and Water Balance in the Root-Zone

Rosa Raudales, Greenhouse Extension Specialist, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

  • Root Rots, Mildews, and Blights

Dr. Yonghao Li, CT Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, CT

  • Update on Managing Insects and Mites

Leanne Pundt, Extension Educator, UConn Extension, Torrington, CT

  • Pesticide Formulations

Candace Bartholomew, Pesticide Safety Educator, UConn Extension

 

For your convenience, this program will be offered in two separate locations.

  • January 29th, this program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 at the Litchfield County Extension Center at 843 University Drive in Torrington, CT.
  • February 14th, this program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Tolland County Extension Office at 24 Hyde Avenue in Vernon, CT.

 

Four Pesticide recertification credits available

Handouts, lunch and beverages will be included in your registration fee of $25.00.

Please make checks payable to the University of Connecticut and send to Litchfield County Extension Center, 843 University Drive, Torrington, CT 06790.  No credit card payments accepted.

For more information, contact Leanne Pundt, at 860.626.6855 or email: leanne.pundt@uconn.edu Click here to view program brochure and registration form.

The University of Connecticut is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.

Nitrogen – The Fix

corn
Chlorotic corn. Image provided by T. Morris, 2018

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient required for the production and growth of all plants, vegetation, and living organisms. It makes up 78% of our atmosphere; however, that only accounts for 2% of the Nitrogen on our planet. The remaining 98% can be found within the Earth’s lithosphere; the crust and outer mantel. The Nitrogen found within the nonliving and living fractions of soil represents an unimaginably low fraction of a percentage of all the Nitrogen on our planet. That tiny percent of all total Nitrogen found in our soils is what we can interact with to help or hinder plant production.

To be considered an essential nutrient, an element must satisfy certain criteria:

  • Plants cannot complete their life cycles without it.
  • Its role must be specific and defined, with no other element being able to completely substitute for it.
  • It must be directly involved in the nutrition of the plant, meaning that it is a constituent of a metabolic pathway of an essential enzyme.

In plants, Nitrogen is necessary in the formation of amino acids, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), proteins, chlorophyll, and coenzymes. Nitrogen gives plants their lush, green color while promoting succulent growth and hastens maturity. When plants do not receive adequate Nitrogen, the leaves and tissues develop chlorosis. However, over-application of Nitrogen can cause even more problems, including delayed maturity, higher disease indigence, lower tolerance to environmental stresses, reduced carbohydrate reserves, and poor root development.

Read more….

Food Safety – Approved Grower Courses Available

vegetables

FSMA Produce Safety Rule/Produce Safety Alliance Approved Grower Training Course 

 

December 5 and 6, 2018; December 7, Snow Date 

8:30 am through 3:30 pm 

Middlesex County Extension Center 

1066 Saybrook Road 

Haddam, Connecticut 06438 

Registration Deadline Monday, November 26 

Space is limited to 30 participants. 

REGISTRATION: Course fees are $50 for Connecticut Farmers; $150 for others. The preferred method of registration/payment is through the CAHNR Conferences site, paying with a credit card. Please include both a work and cell/home phone number and regularly used email address in case of emergency or cancellation. 

ONLINE REGISTRATION is PREFERRED. 

Please go to http://www.cahnrconference.uconn.edu/ to register. VISA and MasterCard are accepted. 

If you choose to register by mail (not preferred) please see the registration form on the next page. 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training Course has been designed to provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices knowledge that includes emphasis on co-management of food safety and environmental management goals, while outlining the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) that requires ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’ 

In order to obtain a certificate that provides evidence of compliance with the training requirements of the rule, you must be present for the entire two-day course, so do not make plans for the snow date! 

Funding for this statement, publication, press release, etc. was made possible, in part, by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137. The views expressed in written materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does any mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organization imply endorsement by the United Stated Government. 

UConn Extension is an AA/EEO employer and program provider. 

Job Opening: Part-time Education and Outreach Consultant

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT

Title: Education and Outreach Consultant

Location: Tolland County Extension Center, 24 Hyde Avenue, Vernon

Commitment: 20 hours/week part time position; January 2019-May 2019. This position will be guaranteed through May 2019, with the possibility of continuing through the summer.

Posting Close Date: Monday, December 3, 2018


Kale Yeah child at school
Photo: Molly Deegan

Organization Overview : The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) at University of Connecticut is committed to its status as a land grant institution, serving Connecticut and the global economy through research, education, and public engagement. CAHNR’s vision is to provide for a global sustainable future through scientific discovery, innovation, and community engagement. UConn Extension fulfills the land grant University’s mission of outreach and public engagement. Over 100 UConn Extension specialists work in the 169 local communities across Connecticut as educators, problem solvers, catalysts, collaborators and stewards. Our eight regional Extension Centers, the Sea Grant program at Avery Point, the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm, the Home and Garden Education Center and the UConn Extension office in Storrs are strategically located throughout the state to meet local needs. UConn Extension enhances small businesses, the economic and physical well-being of families, and offers opportunities to improve the decision- making capacity of community leaders.

Program Overview : Since 2012, the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension has worked to strengthen farm to school in the state. Our Put Local on Your Tray Program, launched in 2015, helps schools source, serve, and celebrate local food. We offer communication materials that feature 16 seasonal products and several resources to help school food directors connect with local farmers. For the 2018-19 school year, 56 school districts have signed up to participate in Put Local on Your Tray; participating districts commit to serving locally grown products on “Local Tray Days.” In our work ahead, we plan to add a new set of educational resources that can be used by classroom teachers that reinforce learning about local food that is being served in the cafeteria. Our major program partners are CT Dept. of Education and FoodCorps CT.

Position Overview : UConn Extension is looking for an experienced and committed individual to join our Tray team to assist in outreach efforts in 2019. A successful candidate will have a proven track record of:

● Outstanding professional relationship and collaboration skills

● Excellent skills in communications and outreach

● Experience working in classroom settings and developing activities for students in K-8 settings

● Managing multiple deliverables with deadlines

● Familiarity with Farm to School programming in Connecticut

This Education and Outreach Consultant will report to the Associate Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems, Jiff Martin. The Project Coordinator, Molly Deegan, will help guide day-to-day activities. The position will be filled ASAP, with a preferred start date of January 1, 2019.

handing a smoothie cup
Photo: Molly Deegan

Responsibilities:

1. 35% time = Develop new educational materials – Develop new resources for classroom use (K-8) that reinforce Put Local On Your Tray program materials that are being used in cafeterias of participating districts. Work with a professional designer, if needed, to develop these new tools. This task includes dissemination of final products to participating districts.

2. 35% time = Program representation – Attend Connecticut and regional major conferences, professional meetings, and events to represent the program and deliver presentations about the Put Local On Your Tray Program. Wherever possible, dates are indicated below. Please do NOT apply unless you can fulfill the majority of the following:

○ 3-5 presentations for School Nutrition Association of Connecticut Regional Chapter Meetings to provide overview of program resources and tools

○ Attend and staff info table at CT Farm to School Conference (Jan 22, 2019)

○ Attend and staff info table at CT Northeast Organic Farming Assoc Winter Conference (Mar 2nd, 2019, location tba)

○ Attend and staff info table at Ag Day at the Capitol (March 20, 2019, Hartford)

○ Attend and staff info table at Farm-to-Institution New England Summit (April 2-4, Leominster, MA)

○ Attend and participate at CT Farm to School Collaborative Meetings – Meets monthly (every third Wednesday, 9:30 – 11:30, Hartford)

3. 30% time = Communications – Ensure consistent and reliable interaction with partners andstakeholders. This includes:

○ Respond to enquiries from stakeholders interested in the program.

○ Respond to enquiries and requests for resources from school districts already participating in program.

○ Social media – Develop and schedule regular posts to Facebook and Instagram accounts twice a week.

○ E-Newsletter – Publish monthly e-newsletter for program partners and stakeholders.

○ Maintain inventory of program materials (posters, stickers, bookmarks).

○ Assist with gathering data from participating school districts at the end of the school year.

Compensation : We anticipate filling this position for a start date of January 1, 2019 . The position will be guaranteed through May 2019, with the possibility of continuing apples drawing and stickers from childthrough the summer. The compensation will be: $25/hour for up to 20 hours per week. Due to the nature of the position, the expectation of 20 hours per week is an annual average, but it likely to vary based on outreach events. Travel costs will be reimbursed at the applicable federal rate.

Required Qualifications :

● B.A. or B.S. in sustainable food systems, agriculture, natural resources, public health, education, or related field

● A minimum of 2-3 years experience in education, agriculture, or related work in a not-for-profit setting or extension program setting

● Outstanding communication skills, teaching skills, and the ability to work with teams

● A strong understanding of school environments

● Strong work ethic and reliability

● Oral speaking skills, including experience as a presenter

● Comfortable working with individuals and organizations committed to meaningful social change and food justice through sustainable food and agriculture systems

● Excellent competency with computer and communications technologies including Microsoft Office Suite, Google Drive, and major social media platforms

● Must own a vehicle and be willing and able to travel across state for events or meetings

● Must be willing to commute to UConn Extension office in Vernon

● Must be available until May 2019

● Flexibility and optimism a must

Preferred:

● Experience working in school cafeterias or closely with school food services

● Good understanding of the federal meal guidelines of the National School Lunch Program and other child nutrition programs in school settings

● Familiarity with function and role of education service providers, including CT State Department of Education and USDA Food and Nutrition Services

What’s in it for you?

● Work in an environment with colleagues that see broad connections between sustainable agriculture, food systems, and food justice

● Develop professional relationships with a new cohort of leaders in farming and food systems in Connecticut and across the nation

● Work alongside a supervisor willing to support your own professional development and networking opportunities

● Develop new contacts and introductions across University of Connecticut, state agencies, and at USDA

To Apply: Our team is more innovative and responsive when our staff represents a diversity of perspectives and life experiences. People of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and LGBTQ candidates are strongly encouraged to apply. UConn provides reasonable accommodations to employees as required by law. Applicants with disabilities may request reasonable accommodation at any point in the employment process.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume, 3 references to Jiff Martin, Associate Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems. Send all documents together in ONE email to jiff.martin@uconn.edu. In the subject line please use this description: “Last Name, First Name – Tray Education and Outreach Consultant position.” Only competitive candidates will be invited to participate further in the recruitment process. Position closes Monday, December 3, 2018 .

University of Connecticut is an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and Program

Pesticide Safety Educator Receives Award

Candace and teammates receive their pesticide safety award at the impact collaborative
Candace Bartholomew (far left) and team members receive their award at the eXtension Impact Collaborative.

Indianapolis, IN. A NPSEC team comprised of staff and PSEP coordinators that are members of the Respirator Collaboration Team participated in eXtension’s Impact Collaborative Summit in Indianapolis from October 16th – 18th. The purpose of the Summit was for institutional and national Extension teams to bring projects and programs from various topic areas to find new and innovative ways to move their projects and programs forward with the help of the Impact Collaborative Innovation process, Key Informants, and partner/supporting organizations. 32 teams representing 40 institutions attended.

Working from where they left off at the 2018 National Pesticide Applicator Certification and Safety Education Workshop in San Antonio this past August, the NPSEC Team focused on finding innovative ways to get Collaboration Teams off the ground. The three-day event culminated in a PitchFest, where the team presented their project idea to eXtension and Cooperative Extension leaders, along with external partner and supporting organizations.

As a result of the PitchFest, the NPSEC team won an award in the Most Fundable Project or Program category that has earned the team recognition and a strategic partnership with the eXtension Partner Development Team. The goal is to raise $20,000 for each of NPSEC’s five identified collaboration teams to develop educational materials which have been identified as urgently needed for Pesticide Safety Education Programs in all the states and territories.

The NPSEC team was comprised of the following individuals:

Candace Bartholomew, University of Connecticut
Mike Wierda, Utah State University
Kerry Richards, University of Delaware
Courtney Weatherbee, Michigan State University
Dean Herzfeld, University of Minnesota
Wayne Buhler, North Carolina State University

Equine Owners Should Vaccinate for EEE, Warns CVMDL at UConn

Eastern equine encephalitis slide
Colourised transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicting a salivary gland that had been extracted from a mosquito, which was infected by the Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, which has been colorized red; magnified 83,900x. {{PD-USGov-HHS-CDC}}

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a disease caused by a virus that mosquitos transmit. The name of the disease is misleading in that this virus can infect and cause disease in humans and a wide variety of animal species, including birds as well as horses and other equids. Horses that have not been vaccinated for EEE die within days of being infected as there is no treatment. There is an effective equine vaccine for EEE, however not for other species. In recent weeks. two unrelated sick birds, one of which was a bald eagle, tested positive for EEE at UConn’s Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL). Researchers and veterinarians at CVMDL encourage equine owners to consider vaccinating their animals, and other animal owners to implement measures to reduce mosquito habitats and thereby potential contact with mosquitos.

Mosquitos that feed on infected wild birds transmit EEE to horses and humans. Once infected, the virus attacks the central nervous system of the host. For horses, disease signs usually appear within five days and the clinical signs include fever, a dull or sleepy appearance, muscle twitches, and a weak staggering gait. Fatality in horses is 90% or higher as horses often go down and are unable to stand again, and those that do survive may have permanent brain damage.

EEE is transmitted by two main types of mosquito vectors; the primary vector and the bridging vector. Culiseta melanura, the primary vector which feeds almost exclusively on birds, serves to amplify and maintain the virus within wild bird populations. Other mosquito species, which indiscriminatingly feed on birds, horses, and humans, serve as the bridging vector capable of transmitting EEE from wildlife to horses and humans.

With the location of horse barns and pastures in rural areas the animals have increased exposure to mosquitos. Horses cannot pass EEE to humans, or to other horses, and are therefore referred to as a dead-end host. If an infected mosquito bites a human, that person can be infected and may develop disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, illness in humans due to EEE is rare, but when disease develops, it is serious.

Proactive steps can be taken to prevent EEE virus infection in humans and horses. A vaccine is available for horses, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating annually for EEE. Mosquito control techniques include eliminating standing water, cleaning water troughs weekly, avoiding mosquito-infested areas, and using insect repellent.

CVMDL, part of the Department of Pathobiology in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, is on the frontlines of research and testing to keep humans and animals safe. For more information visit http://cvmdl.uconn.eduor call 860-486-3738.

References:

LSU Ag Center Research and Extension: http://www.lmca.us/PDF/pub2834eee.pdf

CAES Finds Spotted Lanternfly in Farmington

CAES Announces the Finding of Spotted Lanternfly in Farmington, Connecticut

spotted lantern flyNew Haven, CT – The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) in cooperation with USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) announce that a single dead adult spotted lanternfly,Lycoma delicatula, has been detected and confirmed from a private residence in Farmington, CT. The insect appears to have been a hitch hiker that was likely transported on a vehicle from Pennsylvania. No other spotted lanternflies were found upon visiting the property. However, some additional survey in the area is planned to confirm that no other spotted lanternflies are present.

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive sap-feeding planthopper that was discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. It is native to China, India, and Vietnam. It attacks many hosts and has the potential to severely impact Connecticut’s farm crops, particularly apples, grapes, and hops, as well as a number of tree species. In the fall, adults can often be found congregating on tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus), willows and other trees. They will lay egg masses on trees and almost any nearby surface. Early detection is important for the protection of Connecticut businesses and agriculture. The public is urged to report potential sightings of this invasive pest to CAES.StateEntomologist@ct.gov. Submission of a photograph with any report is encouraged.