UConn Extension is pleased to offer internships for UConn undergraduate students again this year. Student interns gain valuable in-the-field experience in your chosen discipline at an in-state Extension office location. Internship opportunities include:
• Food • Nutrition • Health • Sustainability • Research
• Agribusiness • Youth Education • Community Development
Hydroponics is a growing area of agriculture that uses mineral nutrient solutions in a soilless system to grow plants. Rosa researches chemistry and water clogging of hydroponics in her greenhouse. “With the CARE project, a set of growers in Connecticut have problems with low quality water clogging systems,” Extension educator Rosa Raudales mentions. “Samples are being collected to see if we can find the parameters causing clogging.” Research being done will determine if the same water can be used without clogging the irrigation system. Growers in Maine, Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut are being surveyed for the project. Hydroponics usually starts with really clean water, and tying back to her other projects, Rosa hypothesizes that when using reclaimed water; there will be potential clogging challenges which tends to be a costly problem to farmers. Another project researches using bio-controls in hydroponic systems to make water less conducive for pathogens, while increasing beneficial microbes in the water. Rosa is looking at adjustments to nutrients and temperature that will make the water less conducive to pathogens. This joint project with Dr. Wade Elmer at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is funded through the Connecticut Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
There are three UConn Extension Foundation accounts featured on the site:
The Cooperative Extension Anniversary Fund (non-endowed, account # 23078)
The Nancy H. and David E. Bull CES Innovative Programming Fund (endowed, account # 31108)
4-H Centennial Fund (endowed, account # 30978)
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Text 50555 the following: “UConn Extension (your name).” A $10 donation will then be made to the mGive Foundation to support the UConn Foundation. Charges will appear on your wireless bill.
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The UConn Foundation, Inc.
2390 Alumni Drive, Unit 3206
Storrs, CT 06269-3206
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The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) was formed along with the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) in 2002.
The mission of the NPDN is to enhance national agricultural security by quickly detecting and identifying introduced pests and pathogens.
This is accomplished through the creation of a nationwide network of diagnostic laboratories at land-grant universities (UConn in Connecticut) and state agriculture departments, training for diagnosticians and First Detectors, and the establishment of pro- cedures to be followed when a suspected exotic introduction is discovered.
Introduction of a damaging exotic pest or pathogen can be either acciden- tal (such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle [ALB] or the Emerald Ash Borer [EAB]) or intentional (such as an act
Who can be a First Detector? Anyone who spends time with plants and would like to learn how they can help protect them from exotic pests and pathogens. The group includes professionals that work with plants in areas such as re- search, extension, agriculture, forestry, landscaping and the green industry.
But professionals aren’t the only ones who can play an important role in the early detection of an introduced pest or pathogen that has the potential to cause significant and damaging impact. Gar- deners, hikers, campers and anyone who spends time enjoying the outdoors all make great First Detectors.
By becoming familiar with the common plant pests and problems in your area, you can learn to recognize some- thing unusual and follow the established protocol to have it identified and, if needed, acted upon.
The online training consists of six modules that can be completed one at a time at your convenience. Module topics include Mission of the NPDN, Monitoring for High Risk Pests, Diagnosing Plant Problems, Submitting Diagnostic Samples, Photography for Diagnosis and Disease & Pest Scenarios.
Each module is followed by a short quiz. Once all six are successfully completed, you will be a certified First Detector and can download your certificate.
The training includes information on what to do and who to contact if you come across an unusual pest, pathogen or plant. Certified First Detectors become part of a national network and may receive email communications including alerts about pests and pathogens that are a threat to plants in their area along with an electronic newsletter.
Irrigation and plant pathogens, or infectious organisms, in water are recurring themes for Rosa Raudales, an Assistant Professor of Horticulture and Greenhouse Extension Specialist. Rosa’s first job was on a plantain irrigation project in Honduras. As an undergraduate, her thesis focused on pathogens in hydroponic systems, where plants are grown in a soilless system. Rosa researched biological controls, water treatments, and plant pathogen controls during her graduate studies.
At UConn, Rosa builds off the foundation she created; with applied research focusing on using low-quality water for irrigation, and developing management strategies to control microbes and unwanted chemicals in irrigation water. A holistic, multidisciplinary approach addressing biological, chemical and physical parameters of water quality is developed for each project. Rosa then delivers science-based information to growers, solving plant health and horticulture issues with efficient and sustainable practices.
An integrated research team from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) is partnering with faculty from the School of Engineering on a project called Smart-Resource Grids: Exploring Technical Solutions to Grand Challenges at the Water-Energy-Food Nexus. The project is funded through the UConn Office of the Provost.
Richard McAvoy, Department Head of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture is project director. Rosa is one of 14 faculty members on the project, and water thrust co-leader with Tim Vadas from the School of Engineering. By building a smart-resource micro grid on the Storrs campus, researchers can study how water, food, and energy relate to one another and find synergistic relationships.
The UConn grant funds are developing infrastructure that demonstrates how wastewater can sustain agriculture. Reclaimed water will be used for irrigation and bio-solids from the wastewater will be used to produce energy. A gasifier owned by the School of Engineering will generate energy from the bio-solids in the form of natural gas. The gas can then be used to generate heat or electricity for use in the greenhouse, or the energy can be used someplace else where demand is needed on the grid.
Connecticut regulations indicate that reclaimed water cannot touch the soil. Greenhouses can have closed-loop irrigation systems, which have zero runoff. Using reclaimed water conserves resources and allows treated water to serve a purpose.
“The broader application is in becoming more efficient on how we utilize resources,” Rosa says. “Using what is considered waste in other industries, as an agricultural input, puts less pressure on natural resources. We will also produce energy from solid-waste. Our team added the food component with the idea of designing the integrated cities of the future, where nothing is wasted. The project will give cities that already treat wastewater an option on how to use it safely, while growing food locally.”
Space and resources are limited in many areas, including food deserts, but there is often a water treatment facility. Food could be grown in these areas using technology and efficiencies developed by the UConn team. Economists on the project are researching feasibility and practical application.
“My role on this project is to evaluate how to grow crops effectively by balancing nutrition and preventing biofouling on the pipes,” Rosa mentions. “The outreach component consists on understanding how to facilitate adoption of our system and developing a system that is feasible for cities to integrate.”
The USDA Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (CARE) Project is a $200,000 grant. Rosa is collaborating with Jeff McCutcheon from the School of Engineering, and Richard McAvoy and Michael O’Neill of CAHNR. The project looks at why horticultural farms are not using low quality water sources, and barriers for adoption (sidebar, at right).
Water quantity is a national priority. The Agricultural Water Security grant is co-sponsored by the Connecticut Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and UConn Extension. Rosa collaborates with Michael O’Neill, Michael Dietz, and Angie Murdukhayeva of UConn Extension. Associate Dean Michael O’Neill is project director.
The RCPP project will identify how much water agriculture uses, and risks of different operations in the event of severe drought. During the first phase, the team is looking at how water is being used at operations. The second phase will develop drought management plans for different types of operations through technical support and financial assistance.
Rosa is applying for more grants to build off her current research. One thing is certain, as she continues to tie research to real life, the questions related to food, security, water conservation, and energy resources will be answered.
The Northeast Greenhouse Conference will feature Spanish language sessions, presented by UConn Extension educator Rosa Raudales on Wednesday, November 9th. Raudales session on diagnosing disease is one of four Spanish sessions being offered. The others include: understanding plants, good and bad bugs, and working safely in greenhouses. Space is limited and attendees are advised to register early. More information can be found attached, or at www.negreenhouse.org.
UConn Extension is accepting applications for the 2017 Master Gardener Program. Master Gardener interns receive horticultural training from UConn, and then share knowledge with the public through community volunteering and outreach efforts. Enrollment in the UConn Extension Master Gardener program is limited and competitive.
“Gardening and the study of it is something we can do our whole lives,” says Karen Linder, a 2015 graduate of the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford. “There is always something new to learn – we can get deeper into a subject. Our instructors truly brought subjects to life that I thought could not be made exciting. Who knew soil had so much going on? It has truly changed the way I think and observe the world around me. That is pretty amazing!”
The program is broad-based, intensive, and consists of 16 class sessions (one full day per week) beginning January 9, 2017. The Master Gardener program includes over 100 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of volunteer service. Individuals successfully completing the program will receive UConn Extension Master Gardener certification. The program fee is $425.00, and includes the training manual. Partial scholarships may be available, based on demonstrated financial need.
“Working at the Courthouse Garden signature project in Hartford gave me the opportunity to use my gardening skills to help feed and educate others,” says John Vecchitto, a 2015 graduate from Hartford County. “We’re teaching others, many of whom have never gardened, to enjoy the gardening experience. People expressed their satisfaction when they heard the produce we grew would go to a shelter to help hungry people. We fed those who needed good food, and we fed the spirits of our participants with a taste of kindness. It was empowering.”
Classes will be held in Haddam, West Hartford, Bethel, Brooklyn, and Stamford. The postmark deadline for applications has been extended until Friday, November 18, 2016.
For more information or an application, call UConn Extension at 860-486-9228 or visit the UConn Extension Master Gardener website at: www.mastergardener.uconn.edu.