FY2011 Annual Report Project Narratives

FY2011 Annual Report Project Narratives
AGRICULTURE

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North Carolina State University
Food Systems Leadership Institute Subcontract .

Principal Investigator: R. Johnson

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The Food Systems Leadership Institute (FSLI) offers leadership development to upper-level leaders in higher education, government, and industry to prepare them to meet the leadership challenges and opportunities of the future. FSLI leadership development is driven by three objectives: enhance individual leadership, develop knowledge and skills for organizational change, and broaden food systems perspectives. By enhancing individual leadership we improve the effectiveness of the individual in any leadership role they undertake. In developing organizational change abilities we equip the leader to act as an agent of change both in their own organization and in larger, more complex systems. Broadening the leader's food systems perspectives creates the vision for change toward a broader, more interdisciplinary and collaborative food system.

Outcomes & Impacts:
FSLI Fellows are leaders who bring a great deal of knowledge and experience to the program, creating a rich networking and peer-coaching environment that enhances the leadership development experience. See http://harvest.cals.ncsu.edu/applications/fsli/index.cfm?showpage=179 for a list of the 2010-11 FSLI fellows.


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Department of Agriculture USDA
Applied Master's Degree in Food Systems .

Principal Investigator: J. Kolodinsky

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The end goal of the project is a functioning Masters Program in Food Systems. The proposal is at the University level of approval. Two additional graduate assistantships have been awarded to the program. Governance has been developed.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Food Systems is a growing, transdiscipinary endeavor. UVM is uniquely positioned to excel in graduate work related to smaller, regional food systems.


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Earthwatch Institute
Sustainable Coffee Growing Communities in Costa Rica .

Principal Investigator: E. Mendez

Accomplishments & Outputs:
* The project seeks to improve agronomic management of smallholder coffee plantations in Costa Rica, so that it has increased livelihood benefits to farmers and decreased impacts on the environment. * Data collection and analysis of 40 farms, showing the effects of nitrogen fertilizers on soil acidity, coffee yields and farm economic viability. * For next year we will focus on the following objective: -Quantify the carbon contents in the aboveground plant biomass, and soil organic matter in different land uses located across elevation gradients in a coffee dominated landscape characterized by an elevation gradientof Tarrazu, Costa Rica.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The project is still underway. The main findings, which are included in the paper below are: The mean Nitrogen (N) input rate in farms employing inorganic fertilizer was 212 kg ha-1. Results indicate that Individual coffee plant production and quality indicators did not reveal a significant relationship with nutrient application rates. Yield reported by farmers had a positive marginally significant relationship with nutrient application rates. Covariables related to production and quality indicators were: number of fungicide application, soil exchangeable Calcium (Ca) and acidity, elevation of the terrain, number of stems per plant and CaO input rates. Further analysis revealed that soil exchangeable Ca is significantly positively correlated with N use efficiency by coffee. Additionally, in those farms with higher N input rates, soil pH was significantly lower. We suggest that the N saturation hypothesis is applicable to this agroecosystem. * We hope that these findings can help farmers improve the economic viability of their farms by reducing unnecessary fertilizer use and that this will also result in less N contamination to waterways. * Beneficiaries are smallholder farmers in Costa Rica. * Few resources are available in Costa Rica to conduct this type of research.

Publications:
Castro, S., S. Dietsch, N. Urena, L. Vindasa & Mark Chandler (submitted) Environmental, site, and management factors associated with coffee production potential and cupping quality in conventional coffee farming systems of Tarrazu, Costa Rica. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment


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Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
Graduate Fellowships for Sustainable Livelihoods in Coffee Producing Regions .

Principal Investigator: E. Mendez

Accomplishments & Outputs:
*This project is analyzing the effects of agrobiodiversity and livelihood diversification on the food security of 100 smallholder coffee households in a farmer cooperative of Matagalpa Nicaragua. *In 2010 we conducted 100 household surveys, 3 focus groups and around 10 interviews. *In 2012 we will collect the same data as in 2010 to assess the effects of a project that sought to increase agrobiodiversity and livelihood diversification.

Outcomes & Impacts:
* We have found a correlation between both agrobiodiversity and livelihood diversification and the level of food security of coffee farming families. * Findings will help to inform international donors and farmer cooperatives on what strategies best support food security of smallholder coffee households. * Main beneficiaries are smallholder coffee farmers and cooperatives of Mesoamerica. * Smallholder coffee farmers have been shown to suffer high levels of chronic food insecurity every year.


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Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
Confronting the Thin Months: Participatory Learning on Best Practices and Impacts of the GMCR Food Security Program .

Principal Investigator: E. Mendez

Accomplishments & Outputs:
* The purpose of the study is to assess best practices to combat food insecurity in coffee farming regions of Mesoamerica. * We have met with the Nicaraguan project partners and made significant progress on the review of the literature. * Graduate student Margarita Fernandez started in Spring 2011. * In 2012 we will visit the second study site in Chiapas, Mexico and design survey and data collection approaches to be used in the research.

Outcomes & Impacts:
* No major findings so farm. * This project will contribute to strategies to combat hunger and food insecurity in coffee growing regions of Mesoamerica. * Smallholder coffee farmers and their cooperatives. * Smallholder coffee farmers suffer from chronic food insecurity and are considerably resource poor.


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Hatch
Enhancing farmers capacity to produce high quality organic bread wheat in Vermont.

Principal Investigator: H. Darby

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Growing demand for local organic food has inspired new efforts to revive a staple element of the New England food system, bread. Millers and bakers, however, cannot find enough locally grown organic wheat, and that which is available often does not meet the higher quality standards for bread production. The goal of this project is to develop optimum spring hard red wheat planting and harvesting dates to help farmers meet the high quality demands of the bread flour market. We evaluated the impact of 5 planting dates (April through end of May) and 5 harvest dates (weekly from physiological maturity) on wheat yield and quality. We found that April planting dates were necessary to obtain maximum yields. As planting dates were delayed into May yields were often reduced by as much as 50%. It was determined that varieties respond differently to planting date. We have shown that taller varieties can withstand weed pressure often associated with later planting dates. As a result these varieties yielded higher than shorter varieties as planting dates were delayed. Harvest dates also influenced the yield of wheat. Harvests that occurred at physiological maturity (30% moisture) had the highest yield and test weight. As harvest was delayed the yield and test weight continued to decline over the month harvest period. Baking quality of the wheat will be determined in the coming months. We delivered the research information to farmers through a grain growing conference and a summer field day. Farmers and other agricultural professionals were able to view results as well as see the experiments in the field. Further investigation of varieties and how they are influenced by planting date will assist farmers with proper varietal selection in any given year.

Outcomes & Impacts:
We worked closely with the Northern Grain Growers Association to develop the experiment that would provide them with results pertinent to their operations. Grain farmers growing wheat for the bread flour market have difficulty meeting the high flour quality standards that bakers require to make their product. In addition, farmers need to be able to produce high enough yields in conjunction with excellent quality to be able to remain economically viable. Many farmers struggle with obtaining adequate yields due to high weed pressure. In addition, many farmers find it difficult to obtain acceptable quality due to a variety of environmental influences. Planting and harvest date are two agronomic practices that could be potentially modified by produces to improve both yield and quality. Through this project we determined that mid to late April planting dates produced often double the yields compared to mid to end of May planting dates. We also identified that taller varieties competed better with weeds. Weed biomass was higher as planting dates became later. Therefore taller varieties should be planted especially if planting dates must be delayed past the optimum time. We found that harvest dates also influenced yields. Highest yields were obtained at wheat physiological maturity (30% moisture). However, a commercial combine is unable to harvest wheat at this high moisture. Interestingly as wheat harvest was delayed the yield and test weight declined. Therefore it was determined that best yields could be obtained when wheat was harvested as soon as it reaches acceptable moistures for a combine. Further work with the Northern Grain Growers Association will determine if this practice is economically viable for producers. High harvest moisture will result in additional drying costs.


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Animal Health
Holstein Cattle Major Histocompatibilty (MHC) Gene Diversity and Tracking the Immune Response to an Adenoviral Vectored Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Using MHC Tetramer Technology .

Principal Investigator: J. Barlow

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The purpose of this project is to determine the allele diversity and frequency of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes in pure-bred herd of Holstein dairy cattle. These genes are critical in the T cell mediated immune response to intracellular pathogens including viruses. We have adapted molecular methods to determine the class I allele types of 74 Holstein cattle from a UVM Dairy Center of Excellence herd. These results will be used to develop assays to evaluate how MHC allele-type influences the immune response to Foot and Mouth Disease Virus vaccination. In the next year we will develop high-throughput pyrosequencing based-methods of MHC allele typing for Holstein cattle. Our current results will be used in the next year to inform development of recombinant bovine MHC class I and II molecules which can be used as immunologic tools to evaluate T cell immune responses of Holstein cattle following vaccination or natural infection. Results of this work will be disseminated to the research community by presentations at international meetings and through submission of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Outcomes & Impacts:
We have identified 4 dominant MHC class I allele types demonstrating homogeneity of these immune function genes in this cattle population. These alleles will be used for development of class I MHC-tetramer molecules for use as immunologic tools for evaluating T cell mediated immune responses to Foot and Mouth Disease Virus vaccination. In the next years we plan to generate a panel of bovine class I MHC-tetramer molecules and demonstrate their use of these in studies of Holstein cattle immune responses. These results contribute to our ability to determine the effect of specific vaccines in preventing disease in populations of dairy cattle. The benefit of this research will be to enhance the understanding of a vaccine's ability to prevent disease, and ultimately lead to improved vaccine development to prevent disease in dairy cattle.


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National Science Foundation
BREAD: A Modern Approach for the Development of Cattle Vaccines for Critical Bovine Diseases Impacting Smallholder Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa .

Principal Investigator: J. Barlow

Accomplishments & Outputs:
An international team of scientists from the United States, Kenya, and Denmark have established a collaborative research program to examine the use of new technologies in immunology with the goal of accelerating vaccine development for two critical cattle diseases that impact smaller holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The objectives of the project are to establish and advance gene typing methods for the major histocompatibility (MHC), also known as bovine leukocyte antigens (BoLA), class I and II genes of cattle. We have successfully identified methods and initiated typing of Holstein cattle in a University of Vermont Dairy Center of Excellence herd. In collaboration with Washington State University, we have evaluated the haplotypes of approximately 60 animals for the MHC Class II DRB3 alleles by the polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length polymorphism method. For typing MHC Class I genes we have adapted PCR based methods of Ellis et al. and developed extended methods for allele specific PCR using a bio-informatics approach to assay design. These results expand our understanding of BoLA gene expression and diversity in Holstein cattle. These results will be used in the next year to inform development of recombinant bovine MHC class I and II molecules which can be used as immunologic tools to evaluate T cell immune responses of Holstein cattle following vaccination or natural infection. Our work will also be used to develop improved high-throughput BoLA gene typing methods based on pyrosequencing. Results of this work will be disseminated to the research community by presentations at international meetings and through submission of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Cattle, and especially dairy cattle, are an important agricultural resource to smallholder farmers in SSA providing a source of animal protein to farm families, as well as increased market opportunities through local sales. Infectious diseases are a major constraint on cattle productivity and create vulnerabilities for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) and East Coast Fever are two economically important diseases of cattle that impact productivity and food security for smallholder farmers. Improving cattle vaccine assessment technologies will advance understanding of immune system function, accelerate vaccine development efforts and ultimately improve global cattle health. The benefits of improved global cattle health include reduced vulnerability of smallholder farmers to agricultural resource losses due to animal disease. We have identified a number of key BoLA class II alleles for development of MHC-tetramer molecules to use as immunologic tools for evaluating T cell mediated immune responses to FMD vaccination. In the next years we plan to generate a panel of bovine class II MHC-tetramer molecules and demonstrate their use of these in studies of Holstein cattle immune responses.


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National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Effects of Variation in Pathogen Detection and Signaling Pathways on Resistance to Bovine Mastitis .

Principal Investigator: D. Kerr

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Experiments are being conducted to evaluate the hypothesis that polymorphisms in genes associated with pathogen detection and intracellular signaling pathways contribute to differences between cows in their innate resistance to mastitis. We are using dermal fibroblasts as a model cell type to evaluate between-animal differences in the innate response to E. coli cell wall (LPS) and to Gram-positive cell wall (PamsCSK4). The relationship between in vitro and in vivo results is also being determined in both calves and lactating cows. Fibroblast cultures have been established from 15 calves sampled at approximately 5 and 11, and 16 months of age. Responses of the fibroblasts to LPS reveal substantial between-animal variation in IL-8 production. This molecule is key to recruiting immune cells to the site of infection. Ranking of the animals was relatively consistent between the three sampling times. The four highest, and four lowest responder calves were subsequently challenged with an intravenous infusion of LPS. The in vivo results are consistent with the in vitro predictions in that serum levels of IL-8 and TNF-alfa were higher in the high responder calves. We have similarly established and challenged fibroblast cultures from lactating cows. The in vitro responses were used to rank the cows from high to low responders. The four highest and four lowest responding cows were subsequently challenged with an intramammary infusion of E. coli. All cows developed clinical mastitis and subsequently cleared the infection in similar fashion. However, the numbers of somatic immune cells in milk remained elevated for a longer period of time in the high responding cows. Thus, high responding animals may not be ideal in terms of rapid return to the production of high quality milk following a course of E. coli mastitis.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Key findings are that the fibroblast model is very responsive to stimulation with mastitis causing pathogens. The culture system allows us to examine differences between animals in the absence of environmental variables. Thus, we hope to be able to identify specific genes that contribute to between-animal differences in mastitis susceptibility. Knowledge of these genes will lead to more accurate selection of disease resistance characteristics of future sires, dams and replacement animals.


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National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Costs and Challenges Associated with Developing and Implementing a Community-Wide Biosecurity Plan .

Principal Investigator: J. Smith

Accomplishments & Outputs:
This project is predicated on the assumption that proactive planning and response can enhance the resilience and sustainability of agricultural businesses and communities if an animal disease disaster strikes. In year 2, farmers, allied industry members, and emergency managers have been engaged in a number of project activities to investigate their perceptions of and possible responses to a hypothetical foot-and-mouth disease outbreak scenario. To meet objective 1, (Increase adoption of farm visitor record-keeping tools by increasing awareness of risk in agricultural contact networks), two undergraduate Animal Science majors were recruited to conduct the contact recall challenge with dairy farmers. They interviewed 26 participating farms and are in the process of analyzing the data. According to the plan for meeting objective 2 (Identify possible incentives to support protective emergency biosecurity protocols), interviews with individuals representing each of these stakeholder groups were conducted in late Fall 2010. Responses suggested that some local town officers are not sure of their roles in such a scenario and others focused on their roles in public information. Responses from farmers and allied industry personnel suggested they were prepared to implement significant biosecurity restrictions on their activities and would contact their veterinarian or Extension for advice. A public issues forum was held in September 2011 and a second session is planned for November to foster discussion of communications, biosecurity, and community planning strategies with the viewpoints of the three stakeholder groups represented. According to the plan for meeting objective 4 (Complete a farm-level cost-benefit analysis of implementing strict biosecurity in the face of a highly contagious disease outbreak), more in-depth interviews with case farm participants subsequently focused on getting their perspectives on a number of biosecurity practices that could be implemented in the event of a highly contagious animal disease emergency. Activities underway to meet objective 3 (Develop a catalog of educational resources) include capturing relevant video and still footage of farm activities and developing a website framework to host the content. Meetings with project advisors every six months have presented relevant information and project progress. The blog site, http://blog.uvm.edu/jmsmith/, features project activities and related information. In the next year, activities related to all objectives will continue.

Outcomes & Impacts:
This project will make a difference in the lives of farmers, agricultural stakeholders, and emergency management personnel across Vermont by investigating the feasibility and acceptability of on-farm biosecurity practices, especially in the face of a highly contagious disease emergency.


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National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Properties and Regulation of Glucose Transporters in Bovine Mammary Gland .

Principal Investigator: F. Zhao

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The major activities during the reporting period were to investigate hormonal regulation of glucose transporter gene expression in bovine mammary gland tissue explants, primary mammary epithelial cells and Mac-T cells (aim 3). One graduate student (Ph. D.) and two undergraduate researchers have been trained in the project. Dissemination: Graduate student Yong Shao presented his research results of this project in the ADSA/ASAS Annual Meeting 2011 in New Orleans. The PI used the results in teaching his Lactation Physiology course and presented the data in the research seminars at Virginia Tech and Nanjing Agricultural University, Zhejiang University, and Yangzhou University of China. The project facilitated scholarship exchange activities with multiple Chinese Universities.

Outcomes & Impacts:
In the first experiment, mammary tissue was obtained by biopsy from two primi- and two multi-parous cows about 40 d prior to parturition. Mammary explants were cultured for 48, 72 and 96 h with the following hormone treatments: no hormone (control); 200ng/ml IGF-I; 5ug/ml insulin (I); 5ug/ml insulin + 1ug/ml hydrocortisone + 5ug/ml prolactin (IHPrl); and 5ug/ml insulin + 1ug/ml hydrocortisone + 5ug/ml prolactin + 500ng/ml estrogen (IHEPrl). The relative expression of beta-casein, alpha-lactalbumin, GLUT1, GLUT8 and GLUT12 mRNA were measured by real time PCR. For beta-casein and alpha-lactalbumin, IGF-I and I had no effect, whereas IHPrl and IHEPrl increased mRNA several hundred fold (P<0.01). Therefore, lactogenic hormones were able to up-regulate expression of those milk protein genes in our explant culture system. Although insulin alone increased GLUT1 mRNA around 1.8 fold (P<0.05), IGF-I, IHPrl and IHEPRL had no effect on GLUT1 expression, and none of the treatments affected expression of GLUT8. There was no treatment effect on GLUT12 expression at 48 h, but IHPrl and IHEPrl decreased GLUT12 expression by 50% after 72 and 96 h (P<0.05). In the second experiment, prolactin was administered twice a day to five cows during early lactation by intravenous injection at dose of 1 ug/kg of BW. After seven d of treatment, mammary tissue was obtained by biopsy from prolactin-treated cows and five control cows. Expression of GLUT1, 8 and 12 mRNA was measured by real time PCR, and there was no effect of prolactin on gene expression. Our data suggest that lactogenic hormones and IGF-I may not mediate the increase in GLUT expression in bovine mammary gland during the transition period.

Publications:
Shao Y, Wall EH, Misra Y, Qian X, Blauwiekel R, McFadden T, Zhao F-Q. (2011). Lactogenic hormones and IGF-I do not regulate glucose transporter gene expression in the bovine mammary gland during the transition period. J. Anim. Sci. Vol. 89, E-Suppl. 1/J. Dairy Sci. Vol. 94, E-Suppl. 1, 434


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University of Connecticut
The Economic and Environmental Sustainability of Small and Medium Size Dairy Farms in New England: An Integrated Research-Extension Program .

Principal Investigator: R. Parsons

Accomplishments & Outputs:
This University of Vermont project is in the 2nd year of collaboration with the Universities of Connecticut and Maine. Dairy farming in New England is dominated by small and medium size farms who have a challenge competing in a national and global sector dominate by large farms in the western US. To help strengthen the sustainability of the shrinking New England dairy sector, this project will 1. Examine the cost structure and profitability of small and medium sized dairy farms in New England; 2. Examine selected alternative farm management options; and 3. Analyze the impact of positive and negative externalities on the expected cost structure and profitability of small and medium sized dairy operations. For this project, The University of Vermont will take the lead in assessing the profitability of organic dairy farms. In the past year for the UVM portion of the project, we have analyzed the profitability of Vermont organic dairy farms. With the cooperation of 31 farms, we have estimated that UVM organic farms average about 55 cows per farm producing 13,200 lbs. of milk per cow and earning net farm earnings of $14,019 after a charge for family cost of living. In comparison to conventional dairy farms, organic farms earned Return on Assets of 1.9% vs. 0.9%. These results indicate that organic production is a viable option to conventional dairy in Vermont and likely across New England. Organic farms tend to be smaller, with less cows and acreage, allowing small farms to stay in business, contribute toward the local economy, and preserve open spaces. This finding fits perfectly with objective 2. To date, results have not been disseminated, with coordination of research results with other PIs to analyze viable options. Results will be distributed through the project PI as different pieces are put together. In the next year, a detailed financial analysis of organic will again be conducted for 2011 tax year. This will provide another year of economic data, allowing for more detailed economic comparison between production systems.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The number of dairy farms in New England has declined by 2-4% per year for the last 50 years. Yet dairy farming remains very common throughout the region, accounting for the largest source of agricultural earnings in Vermont and a major source in the other New England states. These dairy farms remain an integral part of the region's ag sector and unique small farm/small town image that attracts many of the region's tourists. This sector is seen as key to region's tourism and research efforts that can assist their survival and sustainability has a substantial impact on rural economies, preserves open space, and maintains a competitive ag sector. The major findings to date indicate organic is not only economically viable but has shown to be more profitable consistently over conventional dairy farms over the past few years. This is still preliminary conclusion as another year of financial analysis will provide a clearer picture of the viability of organic dairy production To date, New England dairy farmers have not had the details on alternative business options they desire. By analyzing the cost of production in different states and comparing to each other and identifying business models or diversification strategies, by the end of the project, New England dairy farmers will have the results that will examine viable options, possible diversification options, and strategies to reduce productions costs, with all leading to greater profitability and sustainability.


1a

Hatch
Dairy Pharming: Production of Pharmaceutically Active Human Proteins in Bovine Milk .

Principal Investigator: F. Zhao

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The major activities during the reporting period were to characterize beta-casein gene promoter and continue to test our insulin constructs. One graduate student (Ph. D.) and one undergraduate researcher have been trained in the project. Dissemination: The PI has presented the results of the project in the research seminars at Zhejiang University, Nanjing Agricultural University and Yangzhou University of China. The project also facilitated scholarship exchange activities with multiple Chinese Universities and company.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The major findings in the reporting period are: 1) Lactogenic hormones induce the recruitment of Oct-1 and Stat5 to the beta-casein promoter. CHIP analysis showed that Oct-1 binding and Stat-5 binding to the beta-casein promoter increased 4-8 fold after 30 min of hormonal treatment. 2) Oct-1 activates hormonal induction of beta-casein gene expression in mammary epithelial cells. Transfection experiments showed that Oct-1 overexpression in the mammary epithelial cells resulted in a 50% increase of endogenous beta-casein protein expression in response to hormone treatment. 3) Oct-1 knockdown inhibits hormonal induction of beta-casein expression. Oct-1 knockdown using siRNA resulted in a 2.5 fold reduction of endogenous beta expression in response to hormone. 4) Lactogenic hormones induce translocation of STAT5 and GR, but not Oct-1. Although hormones rapidly induced Stat5 and GR translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus within 5 minutes, Oct-1 is mainly localized in the nucleus and hormone treatment had no effects on Oct-1 subcellular localization. 5) Lactogenic hormones do not induce mRNA expression of Oct-1 in mammary epithelial cells. Although the lactogenic hormones induced dramatic expression of endogenous beta-casein mRNA in HC11 cells, Oct-1 mRNA expression was unchanged in HC11 cells under hormone treatment. 6) Lactogenic hormones induced physical interaction of Oct-1 with both Stat5 and GR in mammary epithelial cells. Endogenous Oct-1 specifically associated with endogenous Stat5 and GR following hormone treatment for 30 min in HC11 cells. 7) Finally, we have sequenced partial sequence of pBC1 vector which has been used in generating our human insulin constructs and found that the vector missed block B sequence which is crucial for hormonal induction of beta-casein expression. This may explain why our constructs were not responsible to hormone induction in in vitro testing. We are currently testing the possibility. Achievement of our aims will not only advance our current techniques of producing life-saving medicine with great impact on human wellbeing, but also help to create new ways for sustainable agriculture.


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Hatch
The Vermont Agricultural Labor Force: Characteristics, Challenges, and Policy Implications .

Principal Investigator: D. Baker

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Shortages of domestic farm labor have been common across much of the United States in recent decades. Some sectors of the Vermont agricultural economy, such as apples, have relied on temporary agricultural workers to meet this need. However, until very recently, the most important agricultural sector in the state, dairy, has sourced most of its labor locally. In the past few years an undersupply of local farm workers has been met by new foreign workers, primarily Hispanic, who now work on dairy farms throughout the state. Although recently there has been increasing public awareness of the presence of these workers on Vermont dairy farms, little is known about who these workers are, how they view dairy farm employment, or how they differ from domestic dairy farm workers. This three year project seeks to characterize current agricultural laborers on Vermont farms and the social networks with whom they interact. It intends to improve understanding of the broader issues faced by dairy farm labor in Vermont, including the perspectives of farm managers and farm workers. To understand the different perspectives on the impact of Hispanic labor on dairy farms in Vermont detailed on-farm interviews were conducted with dairy farm managers, domestic workers and Hispanic workers. Surveys were conducted on dairy farms throughout the state that employed at least one full-time employee. A total of 123 workers were surveyed, including 92 Hispanic workers and 31 domestic workers. In addition, 73 farm owners or managers on farms that employed non-family labor were surveyed, a majority of hired Hispanic workers. Residents of Vermont were also surveyed through the Vermonter Poll about their views on Hispanic Labor. A total of 649 surveys were conducted, and asked about residents views on how Hispanic workers affected the Vermont agricultural economy and local communities. The results of the survey have been presented to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, the Northeast Organic Farming Winter Conference and was presented at the Vermont Farm Bureau Annual Meeting on Nov. 5th, 2010. A peer-reviewed publication has been accepted for review and additional peer-reviewed articles are in process. The results of this study will contribute to a more detailed understanding of the situation faced by the state's farming sector and the policy alternatives available to address agricultural labor issues. The research will result in information of use to other states and regions facing similar changes in their farm labor workforce. The survey results will be disseminated to agricultural interest groups and government policy makers in the coming year to contribute to national, statewide and local discussions about the design of appropriate policies to support a sustainable and just agricultural dairy labor force.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The research surveyed farm owners, farm workers and the general public to gain an understanding of the impact and challenges Vermont faces as it relies more heavily on a Hispanic dairy labor force. More than three-quarters, 78%, of farmers surveyed believed that there is a shortage of domestic labor. Many farmers have responded by hiring Hispanic labor, with more than half of the farms surveyed, 56%, hiring Hispanic workers. Although most farmers speak little to no Spanish, they are very pleased with their Hispanic workers, believing them to have a better work ethic than their domestic workers (71% excellent for Hispanic workers compared to 41% excellent for domestic workers). The main concern farmers expressed about hiring Hispanic workers was potential legal repercussions. Hispanic workers on dairy farms have significantly less agricultural experience than their domestic counterparts, with a median of 3 years compared to 21 years. Nearly all (91%) of Hispanic workers are primarily employed as milkers, whereas less than half of domestic workers reported this as their primary job. Domestic and Hispanic workers were both satisfied with their jobs and felt they were treated well by their employers, with 90% of respondents in both groups reporting that they were treated well or very well by their employers. Hispanic workers put in more hours than their domestic counterparts each week, 70 compared to 50 hours, and want to put in more hours. Very few Hispanic workers speak English, and 77% say that no one on their farm speaks Spanish. Given this situation, it may not be surprising that the greatest challenge most workers face is isolation (49%). Most Vermont residents (72%) are aware of farm labor issues and have heard something on the news within the past year about this issue. A separate survey of 70 workers in the Northeast region was conducted. Vermont is a new Latino destination where many Spanish-speaking migrants have found work on dairy farms. One hundred-twenty Hispanic workers were surveyed on 59 Vermont dairy farms to develop a demographic profile and evaluate their self-assessed health status and barriers to care. The study found that similar to other studies the majority of workers were predominantly young, male Mexicans. They differ from other studies in that they originate farther south in Mexico and significant regional differences in educational attainment was found. Workers defined health in terms of their ability to work and the majority believed themselves to be in good health. The majority feel that moving to the US has not changed their health status. The most common health issue reported was back/neck pain, followed by dental and mental health issues. Workers are both physically and linguistically isolated and reported isolation as the most challenging aspect of dairy farm work. Fear of law enforcement was the primary barrier to care.


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Hatch
Evaluating resilience of Vermont's dairy industry through simulation modeling .

Principal Investigator: J. Smith

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The overarching objectives of this project are to utilize simulation models to better understand the impact of potential biosecurity risks on the dairy industry in Vermont and to develop strategies for minimizing the consequences of these risks. Highly contagious animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, that can be spread by indirect as well as direct contact require severe measures to control. A survey instrument to characterize the rate of direct and indirect contacts among dairy farms was developed and distributed to Vermont dairy farmers in 2010. Partial data analysis has been conducted.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Milk price fluctuations pose an obvious threat to the sustainability of the dairy industry in Vermont and nationwide; less obvious is the threat posed by "foreign" or "exotic" diseases that persist in other parts of the world and could accidentally or intentionally infect livestock in this country, resulting in the devastation of agricultural communities. Knowledge of baseline Vermont-specific contact rates among farms and how these might change in the face of a highly contagious disease epidemic would inform more accurate modeling of the potential spread of disease and effectiveness of control measures. Rates from this study can be utilized in a simulation of disease spread in New England using a model such as the North American Animal Disease Spread Model.


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Hatch
Linking Environmental, Sensory and Cultural Qualities of Artisan Cheese in Vermont .

Principal Investigator: A. Trubek

Accomplishments & Outputs:
This research project investigated how the natural environment influences the final sensory characteristics of a Vermont alpine-style farmstead cheese by identifying and characterizing key differences and similarities in sensory notes and chemical flavor compounds, and determining whether those differences are attributable to the makeup of pasture and cheesemaking practices of two Vermont artisan cheesemakers and their facilities. The research program included the following activities: interviews with cheesemakers about philosophies and practices of cheesemaking; collection of pasture and cheese samples from both farms for sensory analysis using SmartNose and gas-chromotography-olfactometry analysis; development and implementation of three sensory panels using Qualitative Descriptive Analysis. All of the research is now complete and initial results have been compiled. Preliminary results revealed overlaps across methodologies. A consistent set of descriptors for the cheeses were found during QDA that correlated with cheesemaker interviews and environmental observations. A report will be developed outlining our results and presented to the cheesemakers involved in the research project as well as the artisan cheese association, Vermont Cheese Council. The results of this research study have led to a new project involving Vermont artisan cheese to look more closely at the organization, implementation and analysis of sensory panels in order to better assist cheesemakers as they develop products and market products to consumers.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Artisan cheese is an increasingly vibrant component of the dairy and food sectors in Vermont and thus new methods for analyzing and promoting these products is needed. By defining the sensory characteristics of Vermont artisan cheese, producers can develop protocols and vocabulary for their cheeses, which can enhance both the production and consumption of these cheeses. All of the research done by this interdisciplinary research group that includes an anthropologist, a dairy scientist, a sensory scientist, a flavor chemist and graduate students, considers the sensory experience of tasting and evaluating artisan products from Vermont, with the goal of helping producers, consumers and policymakers better understand the qualities and quality of place-based food and drink. Situating the research within a framework that includes ideas of place-based identity and economic and environmental sustainability makes it relevant to contemporary concerns about the organization of the food system in the United States. This pilot project will help researchers develop rigorous methods and robust results that can further understanding and enhance the market viability of small-scale, farmstead based value-added dairy operations in Vermont and beyond.


1a

Hatch/Multistate
Mastitis Resistance to Enhance Dairy Food Safety .

Principal Investigator: D. Kerr

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Experiments are being conducted to evaluate genetic differences between dairy animals in their innate response to infection. In experiment one, a dermal fibroblast model is being used to investigate genetic differences in responses between cows with or without chronic mastitis. These animals are being selected from a local commercial herd on the basis of monthly milk somatic cell counts and bacteriological evaluation. Preliminary results from four animals per group have not revealed between-cow differences in the ability of their fibroblasts to respond to components of bacterial cell wall (LPS; Gram-positive, Pam2CSK4; Gram-positive. In experiment two, skin samples were obtained from a local collaborator herd. These animals were selected based on high or low genomic estimation of their productive life. The genomic estimates were based on a 50K SNP chip and performed in conjunction with USDA-ARS. Preliminary results from six animals per group have not revealed between-cow differences in the ability of their fibroblasts to respond to components of bacterial cell wall (LPS or Pam2CSK4). However, we do find substantial variation between cows and are conducting additional experiments to determine the molecular differences between high and low responding animals.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Key findings are that the fibroblast model is very responsive to stimulation with mastitis causing pathogens. The culture system allows us to examine differences between animals in the absence of environmental variables. Thus, we hope to be able to identify specific genes that contribute to between-animal differences in mastitis susceptibility. Knowledge of these genes will lead to more accurate selection of disease resistance characteristics of future sires, dams and replacement animals.

Publications:
Kerr, D.E., B.B. Green, and S. Kandasamy. 2011. Variation in cow response to mastitis predicted by laboratory testing of skin cells. Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the National Mastitis Council. Arlington, VA. pages 64-69.


1a

Hatch/Multistate
Soil Organic Matter: Formation, Function and Management (new project) .

Principal Investigator: J. Gorres

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Pasturing dairy cows has environmental and economic benefits compared to feedlot production. In rotational grazing cows are rotated around small paddocks spending only short periods in each paddock. This gives the forage more time to regenerate after the cows pass through. On the downside, large number of animals stocked into a small area may cause compaction and thus reduce production and quality of forage. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of two promising compaction mitigation techniques on soil properties. Keyline plowing is a subsurface tillage technique which is thought to cut through compacted soil layers and provide additional drainage thus both mitigating existing compaction and preventing further compaction. The other techniques uses forage radishes that drive tap roots deep into the soil. We are particularly interested in the development of soil strength, soil organic matter and macropore distribution. In its second year the study will continue to gather data. During the reporting period, one more generation of radish was grown at two collaborating farms and two more passes of keyline plowing was accomplished at four collaborating farms. Each practice was sampled twice during this period. Fertility data, soil strength, and organic matter data was collected during the last year and results reported to the farmers. Data was presented at the Fairlee Annual Vermont Grazer Conference in January 2010. This event attracts graziers from Vermont, New England and as far afield as Pennsylvania. In addition, results from the study were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Soil Science Society of America. Next year we will continue working with 4 producers who have been implementing these management techniques for the past two years. Radish treatments are spatially very heterogeneous and we will have to apply improved sampling schemes next year to further probe the effects of radish growth in more successful radish treatments We will also some questions regarding how macropore flow potentially created by both treatments may affect infiltration.

Outcomes & Impacts:
New management practices may take a while to show results. The study is measuring organic matter, soil strength, pH etc for plots with no treatment, with radish plantings and with keyline tillage. The latter two treatments are thought to counteract compaction. The hypothesis is that the mitigation techniques result in improved soil quality. Results indicate that there are indeed changes in the soil quality. However, because we have only sampled twice so far, the observed changes may be due to seasonal variations. The study is now in its second year and a third sampling has been conducted with a fourth planned in the Spring 2012. We expect that some outcomes are becoming clearer with the analysis of additional samples when seasonal effects can be separate from treatment effects. Keyline plowing was specifically designed to redistribute water in arid rangelands from landscape areas where storm water collects to drier. This has led to claims that rangeland productivity can be increased and that more C can be sequesterd as soil organic matter. However, in Vermont the hydrologic condition of fields are the opposite. Often pastures are wet and organic matter may have accumulated already. We are finding that in wet pastures that were keyline plowed soil moisture decreased in particular near where the shanks have cut into the soil. Yet, we have not yet observed any significant changes in organic matter or in easily decomposed carbon. Similarly inconclusive are the results in the radish treatments. We did see some improvements in compaction at some farms but the results may be affected by season. In three out of four farms, compaction was reduced in the keyline treatments. At one farm compaction stayed the same. One of the difficulties is that the soils at the collaborating farms are of different quality so that differences between the early and the present sampling depend on the farm. Benefits of this research include mitigation and prevention of compaction, improved pasture productivity and potentially the sequestration of C. Primary beneficiaries are dairy farmers who use grazing as an alternative to feed lot production. These stakeholders are interested in managing compaction issues and have expressed an interest in these two novel management techniques which may also have C sequestration benefits.


1a

Animal Health
Effects of genetic variation in host and pathogen on severity of bovine mastitis .

Principal Investigator: D. Kerr

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Genetic variation in either hosts or pathogens may influence disease manifestation or severity. A major challenge in mastitis research is to develop disease models that simultaneously account for variation in host susceptibility and pathogen virulence. Observational studies are being conducted with the goal of identifying differences in mastitis susceptibility among cows and describing contagious pathogen transmission dynamics in a robotic milking herd. Infection status data from this study will be evaluated as a method to classify cows within different mastitis susceptibility phenotypes. Cows with chronic intramammary infections or recurrent intramammary infections may be classified as the two most susceptible phenotypes. Parallel experiments are being conducted with mammary and dermal fibroblast cells from cattle to evaluate differential responses to various pathogens and pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPS) in cells ex vivo. The ex vivo model will also be used to determine if differences exist between strains of bacteria in their ability to invade, and survive within the bovine cells. Preliminary results provide support the hypothesis that S. aureus strains distinguished by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) differ in their ability to invade mammary epithelial cells. Differences in invasion potential highlight pathogens and strains of particular concern, whereas differences between mammary or fibroblast cells of different cows would be suggestive of specific host differences is mastitis susceptibility. Results of observational studies of natural infection have identified the need for a rapid and inexpensive bacterial strain typing method with discriminatory power equivalent to MLST so that any effect of strain type can be recognized when using natural infection studies to define host susceptibility. In the next year we will continue with studies that link ex vivo host cell models of infection response to specific bacterial strains and observations from clinical field trials or experimental challenge studies.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Our research is attempting to define causative reasons for the variable degree of pathogenesis observed in bovine mastitis. This work will potentially uncover new avenues for treatment of this disease. Dairy producers will benefit from increased production of high quality milk. Dairy cows will benefit from more effective treatment protocols.


1b

Chittenden County Maple Sugar Makers Association
Ecological Management for Sustained Maple Forest Health and Productivity .

Principal Investigator: D. Tobi

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The basic premise of the study is that although traditionally managed sugarbushes with widely spaced, large crowned trees are known to produce more and sweeter sap, they also provide monoculture conditions which promote buildups of injurious insect and disease pests. The resulting damage to the stand may reduce and even offset any advantages of having a pure maple stand. We looked at sugar maple stands managed in the traditional method as well as two additional forest management methods which may inhibit the buildup of injurious pests and thus promote greater overall sugar maple health. Healthier maples should both live longer and produce high quality sap. We compared pest levels in traditionally managed sugarbushes (nearly 100 percent sugar maple) with two alternative approaches: 1. crop-tree release (25 percent non-sugar maples); and 2. single-tree selection (residual stand composition 50 percent non-sugar maple). Permanent plots in the sugarbush of a local sugarmaker and at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center were established. Manipulation of the stands for the study was finished in the fall of 2001. We developed proper sampling protocols for several pest species including maple anthracnose, pear thrips, maple leafcutter, bruce spanworm, forest tent caterpillar, eutypella canker, sugar maple borer, lecanium scale and maple trumpet skeletonizer. Pest sampling and damage assessments began in the summer of 2002 and and have continued until the fall of 2011, although not all organisms were assessed every year due to varying pest population levels. Our results show a definite trend to lower insect and disease pest levels with a higher component of non-maples in the forest stand for most of the pest organisms surveyed. Generally however, the most significant differences were between the 100 percent maple stands and the 'non-traditional method 1 (25 percent non-maples). The non-traditional method 2 (50 percent non-maples) generally had even lower populations and resulting damage from the surveyed pest organisms but not at significantly lower levels than the non-traditional method 1 suggesting that perhaps the 25% non-maple level is enough to help reduce the incidence and impact of several of the pests looked at in this study. The alternative scenarios to traditionally managed sugarbushes increase forest biodiversity, which may decrease pest incidence and at the same time enhance production of other high-value hardwoods. Results will provide sugarmakers with recommendations on how best to manage their stands to maximize syrup production while minimizing stress from pests and diseases. Results were disseminated at several sugarmaker meetings.

Outcomes & Impacts:
See above.


1b

Department of Agriculture USDA
Effects of Sap Preconcentration by Reverse Osmosis on Maple Syrup Chemical Composition and Flavor .

Principal Investigator: T. Perkins

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Maple syrup production is an agricultural enterprise that provides a vital source of income and helps maintain viable small farms for thousands of producers throughout the maple producing region of the United States and Canada. It is produced and marketed as a specialty, natural sweetener with unique characteristic flavor and aroma properties that underlie its desirability to consumers and high economic value. Preconcentration of maple sap by reverse osmosis (RO) is often used to increase the profitability of maple production by reducing the large quantities of fuel and time necessary to concentrate sap to maple syrup density using only thermal evaporation. However, it is currently unknown whether concentrating maple sap with RO produces changes in sap chemistry that result in negative impacts on the quality or characteristic properties of the maple syrup produced. Thus, the objective of the proposed work was to determine whether the chemical composition or flavor of syrup produced from unconcentrated maple sap differs significantly from that of syrup produced from the same sap that has been preconcentrated by RO. We conducted controlled experiments in which maple syrup was produced simultaneously from raw maple sap (2% sugar) and the same sap that had been concentrated to 8% sugar by RO. Six replications of the experiment were conducted during the 2011 maple production season. The physiochemical properties (pH, conductivity, color, and density) and chemical composition (including inorganic minerals, carbohydrates, and volatile flavor and aroma compounds) of the maple syrup produced in the experiments were subsequently analyzed. In addition, sensory evaluation experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of the treatments on the flavor of the syrup produced. The data collected were then analyzed statistically to determine if significant differences existed in the chemical composition or flavor of syrup produced simultaneously from unconcentrated, raw sap and the same sap concentrated to 8% by RO. The results obtained are being disseminated to maple producers, industry members, scientists, and extension professionals at maple industry meetings and conferences throughout the maple producing region of the US.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The results from the experiments conducted indicated that maple syrup produced with unconcentrated sap was significantly darker in color than syrup produced from the same sap concentrated to 8% by RO. However, there were few other significant differences in the properties, chemical composition, or flavor profiles of the syrup produced. In addition, in sensory evaluations panelists were unable to detect a difference in flavor between the syrup produced simultaneously with unconcentrated sap and with the same sap concentrated to 8% by RO. The results indicate that producing syrup with sap concentrated by RO does not have a significant impact on syrup chemical composition or flavor. Maple syrup production is an important agricultural enterprise for thousands of producers in Vermont and throughout the maple producing region of the US and Canada. In many cases maple syrup production supplements other agricultural endeavors, such as dairying, as a vital source of income to help maintain viable, profitable farms. Maple syrup is produced and marketed as a specialty, "natural" sweetener with highly valued characteristic color, aroma, and flavor properties that are the foundation of its desirability and economic value to consumers. Preconcentration of maple sap by RO is used to increase the profitability of maple production by reducing the large quantities of time and fuel necessary to concentrate sap to maple syrup density by the traditional method of thermal evaporation in open-pan style evaporators. However, there has been growing concern that producing syrup from sap concentrated by RO might yield negative impacts on the properties of maple syrup by reducing the length of time sap is processed with heat, when the majority of color, flavor, and aroma compounds in syrup are generated. Because of the enormous potential economic benefit to producers that the use of RO provides, it is critical to establish through rigorous scientific investigation whether this technology can be used without detriment to the quality of maple syrup produced and thus provide producers with a means to increase the profitability and long-term economic sustainability of maple syrup production. The goal of our project was to determine whether the chemical composition or flavor of syrup produced from unconcentrated maple sap differs significantly from that of syrup produced from the same sap that has been preconcentrated by RO to determine if it is an acceptable, effective practice to increase the profitability of maple syrup production operations. Results from the experiments we conducted showed that the quality, composition and flavor of maple syrup made with unconcentrated sap did not differ from syrup made from the same sap concentrated to 8% by RO. These results indicate that RO is a means by which producers can increase the profitability and long-term economic sustainability of maple syrup production without detriment to the quality of the maple syrup produced. This new scientific knowledge will also provide assurance to consumers of the quality of maple syrup they purchase.


1b

North American Maple Syrup Council
Maximizing Vacuum Transfer and Sap Yields in Tubing Operations: Evaluation of a New Method to Increase Production .

Principal Investigator: T. Perkins

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Vacuum is commonly used in maple tubing collection systems to increase sap yields. Current systems suffer from losses in efficiency as both air and sap move through the system under slug-flow conditions. This project investigates several experimental approaches towards optimizing sap and vacuum transfer.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Over the two-year study period, use of one tap per lateral line showed the highest production rate. Two experimental methods did not produce sap yields higher than the controls, primarily due to inability of detecting and controlling leaks with the new methods.


1b

North American Maple Syrup Council
Predicting Maple Sap Yields in Vacuum Tubing Operations .

Principal Investigator: T. Perkins

Accomplishments & Outputs:
A survey was conducted to understand the influences of different variables (vacuum level, tubing cleaning, frequency of spout and tubing replacement) on sap yield in maple vacuum tubing systems. Producers were asked to complete a multi-page survey and submit samples of their droplines for microbial testing.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Due to lack of adequate levels of participation, only limited information is discernible from this study. In general, spouts and droplines tend to be the youngest part of tubing systems, and have the greatest impact on sap yields. Lateral lines are slightly older, but have a lesser importance in sap yields, while mainlines tend to be the oldest part of tubing systems and have very little influence on sap yield. Check-valve adapters are associated with higher yields compared to all other spout types.


1b

Hatch
Potential impacts of global warming on autumn coloration in maple .

Principal Investigator: T. Perkins

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The annual display of autumn coloration in Vermont is a highly prized, economically and culturally important event. Global warming will result in a longer growing season and the temperature of both the autumnal days and nights will increase. Because of the strong relationship between environmental conditions and leaf senescence, these changes in climate have the potential to disrupt the normal physiological processes involved in the development of autumn coloration, particularly the development of red-colored anthocyanin pigments. And although there has been a great deal of speculation about possible impacts of global warming on fall color development, there has been little scientific study of the phenomenon. Thus, the overall objective of this project was to investigate the effects of temperature on the development of autumn colors in maple. The results obtained will help us to make more informed statements about the effects of global warming on autumn coloration. Several experiments were conducted to investigate how temperature affects the onset of autumn coloration, and also to probe the physiological basis for any effects of temperature observed. The first experiment was focused on determining if cold temperatures promote the development of autumn coloration. In these experiments, red and sugar maple seedlings were subjected to various temperature treatments for one week prior to the onset of fall coloration, and their subsequent color development was monitored with nondestructive pigment content meters and digital photography. The subsequent set of experiments focused on determining the physiological mechanisms through which cold temperatures promote autumn coloration. In these experiments, leaf petioles or portions of leaves were cooled at night and during the day, and color development subsequently monitored throughout the fall. The results obtained will provide scientific data to help understand the potential effects of climate change on autumn coloration. The results of this work have been disseminated to the public through numerous interviews with a variety of media outlets, and a scientific manuscript describing the results is in preparation.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The results of the first set of experiments indicated that temperature does impact the development of fall coloration: colder temperatures promoted the onset of coloration, while warmer temperatures delayed the onset. In the second set of experiments designed to investigate the physiological mechanism through which cold temperatures impact leaf color development, chilling portions of the leaf lamina at night promoted anthocyanin development, while chilling the petiole had no effect. These results suggest that the physiological mechanism underlying the development of red anthocyanin pigments during autumn leaf senescence may involve inhibition of sugar transport out of cells, but not out of the leaf, during the night. Together, these results provide new knowledge of the process of autumn coloration and leaf senescence that help increase our understanding of how the warmer temperatures expected as a result of climate change can be expected to affect this process. The results suggest that the development of autumn coloration will likely be impacted by warmer autumn temperatures in the future. The annual display of autumn leaf coloration in Vermont is a highly prized, economically and culturally important event. It is an integral part of the state's public image and cultural heritage, and is an economic engine that drives the generation of millions of dollars in revenue for the state from tourism and related activities each fall. There is a growing urgency to understand how global warming will affect this process and how these effects might impact the economic well-being of the state. Results from these experiments have provided a more scientific basis for projecting the potential impact of future warm autumns on leaf coloration and allow us to make more informed statements about the effects of global warming on autumn coloration.


1b

Hatch
Earthworm Mediated Losses of N from Dairy and Maple Production Systems in Vermont .

Principal Investigator: J. Gorres

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Earthworms are invasive organisms in Vermont and much of the northeast. They have arrived in Vermont with European settlers and more recently Asian worms are working their way into New England. The purpose of this project is to assess changes in the soils and plant communities of sugar maple stands in Vermont that are caused by invasive earthworms. Most significant changes that have been documented are the loss of the duff layer which is the germination medium of many of the plants that grow in the forest, low maple sapling density, changes in nutrient supply rates. Worms were also observed at high elevations in the Green Mountains and several sites have been identified where new worms from Japan, so called jumper worms, have been identified. Data from this study have been presented at annual conferences of the Soil Ecological Society and the Soil Science Society of America. In addition, data on the extent of the invasion by jumper worms has been documented in a peer-reviewed paper accepted by Northeastern Naturalist, a journal for professional natural historians and biologists who are likely interested in conserving northeastern broad leaf forests. There are a few important issues to be studied next year. For example the question of whether worms select habitats with observed fertility characteristic or whether the worms create these conditions is still open. Also we know that earthworms cause the loss of understory vegetation and thus create conditions that might further degrade forest soils. Little is known how these worms may in the long term affect the tree species and how that would affect the productivity of these forests.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The study showed that soils with earthworms differed in nutrient supplies from soils without earthworms. In particular in soils with earthworms nitrogen was almost exclusively nitrate a form of nitrogen that easily leaches and that might be transformed into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. Other differences included calcium levels 5 times greater in earthworm inhabited soils than in soils without earthworms. While increased calcium levels can improve regeneration of sugar maple, increased availability of this nutrient can also result in its loss through leaching below the root zone. To investigate whether the differences between the soils were caused by earthworms or whether earthworms select habitats with these characteristics we are conducting lab experiments. So far we found that when earthworms are added to soils, the soils produced greater greenhouse gas emissions. At the end of the soil incubation, nutrient levels will be measured to find out whether significant changes in nutrients have occurred as a result of earthworm presence. This is significant because if earthworms can change the chemistry of soils in which maples have thrived, the future of invaded forests will have to be carefully monitored to assure their continued productivity. In addition we have collected evidence that maple sap from sugar maples with earthworms had elevated calcium and nitrate levels. We have documented the advance of Amynthas, a.k.a. jumper worms, into Vermont Forests. We have found them from Quechee to Alburg at the Canadian border with major populations in and around Burlington. This is significant because jumper worms have been associated with soils in southern and Mid-Atlantic States where climate is much milder. Amynthas are regarded as aggressive and destructive invaders. They are annual species that overwinters as cocoons. Their advance into colder climates is somewhat unexpected. For this reason we began monitoring a single population in South Burlington to find out about how they develop during the growing the season, whether there are any temperature and moisture limits that may limit their range in Vermont. The length of time from hatchling to adult is approximately 90 days. Thus a population of worms requires at least 90 days of frost free days to survive in Vermont. The risk that these worms represent to forested ecosystems in Vermont is considerable. Where we have found them, understory plants are often entirely absent. A project that studies organic pesticides to control these worms has been initiated at the UVM Horticultural Research Center. Small woodlot owners, maple syrup producers, who are often diversity farmers, and forest managers will benefit from this research. Recognizing that an invasion has occurred and understanding the potential risk of the invasion will be one benefit of the study and dissemination of results as presently earthworms are not regarded as threats but as beneficial organisms.

Publications:
Ryan D. S. Melnichuk and Josef. H. Gorres. 2010. Nutrient, Metal and Mineral Availability in Vermont Sugarbush Soil in the Presence and Absence of Earthworms. Presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Soil Science Society of America from 10/31-11/02/2010 in Long Beach, Ca.

Ryan D.S. Melnichuk and Josef H. Gorres. 2011. Effect of invasive earthworms on leaf litter decomposition, soil chemistry and water dynamics. Soil Ecology Society Meeting at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, BC, May 24 to May 27, 2011.

Josef Gorres, Ryan Melnichuk. 2011. Correlation Between Nitrate and Calcium In Soils with and without Earthworms. To be presented at the 2011 Meeting of the Soil Science Society of America from 10/16 to 10/19/2011 in San Antonio, TX.

Ryan D.S, Melnichuk and Josef H. Gorres. 2011. Effect of Invasive Earthworms on Leaf Litter Decomposition, Available Nutrients and Water Dynamics. To be presented at the 2011 Meeting of the Soil Science Society of America from 10/16 to 10/19/2011 in San Antonio, TX.


1b

Hatch
New approaches towards maximizing maple sap yields .

Principal Investigator: T. Perkins

Accomplishments & Outputs:
This project seeks to document age-related reductions in sap yield within maple vacuum tubing systems and to develop cost-effective ways to mitigate such reductions. Over the past six years, we have documented significant losses in sap yield as tubing systems are used, even after cleaning. Replacement of different components (spouts, droplines), or use of the Check-valve spout adapter will ameliorate some losses. The most cost effective approach is to utilize the Check-valve spout adapter, which generally improves sap yield significantly at a relatively low cost.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Maple producers can use these results to determine the best strategies to improve sap yields from their operations, and to make economic decisions affecting their profits.

Publications:
Perkins, T.D. 2010. Anti-microbial silver in maple sap collection. Maple Digest 22: 11-20.

Perkins, T.D. 2010. Excerpts of Postings about Leader Check-Valve Adapters on www.MapleTrader.com Maple Digest 22A: 11-14.

Perkins, T.D., B. Stowe, and T.R. Wilmot. 2010. Changes in Sap Yields From Tubing Systems Under Vacuum Due to System Aging. Maple Digest 22A: 20-27.


1c

Hatch
Evaluating VT Grass-Based Livestock Farms and Agricultural Policy Implications .

Principal Investigator: R. Parsons

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Grass-based and livestock agriculture represent a growing part of Vermont's economy. Livestock sales counted for $76 million and 42% of nondairy sales in 2002, with 48% of Vermont's farms engaging in livestock production, and 54% include some permanent pasture or rangeland. Pasture land comprises 11% of the total agricultural land in Vermont, up from 7% in 2002. While the number of dairy farms is decreasing, non-dairy livestock farms have increased. A recent study commissioned by the VT Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets points to opportunities in marketing local beef to regional institutional markets during a period of increasing suburban demand for grass-fed and finished beef. Sustaining the natural resources to support agriculture requires agricultural systems working in balance with environmental systems. Vermont's water quality is affected by urban and agricultural runoff. Well managed grass-based farms provide a filtration system through which water from multiple non-point sources can be deposited into rivers, streams and lakes with reduced sediment or nutrient deposition. Grass-based farm systems can encourage species biodiversity, nesting bird habitat, regeneration of desertified areas, healing of eroded soils, and improved carbon sequestration. Encouraging the expansion of the culture of agriculture supports both the farming community and rural economy. Fewer, larger farms do not support the well being of local communities in the same ways as a greater number of smaller and medium farms. Animal agriculture, when focused on grass-based production, provides the ability for small farmers to reduce overhead expenses, start small, and create family-friendly farming systems with low debt service. Another aspect is that physical and biological systems are interconnected through grazing management. When considering how and where to state leverage staff, energy, or funds, it is logical to place those funds where they will most invest in emergent systems. This research is intended to help the researcher and other agricultural service providers better understand the interaction of this system in order to improve the effectiveness of grazing management strategies. Significant accomplishments and outputs include developing a survey distributed to 1089 grass-based livestock farmers in Vermont, receiving a 21% response rate. The data was compiled and is being analyzed as part of a MS thesis and several articles. Results to date have been disseminated through several avenues. A poster presentation was presented at the 2011 Student Research Summit at the University of Vermont. Written reports were presented to the Vermont House and Senate Agriculture committees. In addition results will be distributed to the VT Farm to Plate Initiative and the VT Pasture Network blog, VT Grass Farmers Association Facebook page, additional social and public media. In the next year activities will concentrate on Pursuit of additional funding to investigate questions revealed through this study and development of educational materials around the negative impacts of over grazing, and outreach to dairy farmers in particular.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Significant findings from the survey include the following highlights. Data is currently being analyzed in depth. Fingings include: 1) 26.6% percent of the land certified as organic, but only 20.1% of the animals; 2) The mean number of grazing days is 177, with median 182, which are similar to the national expectations of grazing season length; 3) The most important elements in business success were correlated with profitability and healthy animals; 4) Having a business plan correlated positively with success, and 5) 71.2% of farms included two decision makers. Responding farmers indicate they possibly overgrazing, a practice which can negate the beneficial environmental impacts of good grazing management. This creates an educational direction for agricultural service providers to place efforts in grazing education. The disparity between land and livestock certification rates leads to the question of how market mechanisms reward production practices. For example, dairy land and livestock certification rates are more similar than other livestock rates; this may be a result of the existing market for organic milk and the associated income benefits. Beef, lamb and pork do not experience the same level of centralized marketing around their benefits as does milk. For benefits, research indicates that a small-farm community supported twice as many business establishments, three times the building equipment and household supplies, 20% more people per dollar of agricultural crop sales with more self-employment at higher wages than agricultural wage workers, etc. Research shows a statistically significant positive relationship between income and civic engagement. The greater good from this project will be to support the contribution by Vermont's grass-based livestock farms to civic engagement and local economies. Vermont's grass-based livestock farmers, policymakers and legislators, and national socio-economic researchers will benefit from this contribution to the greater understanding of this community. Grass-based livestock farmers have been historically poorly measured, particularly the socio-economic impacts of these farmers in the U.S. As primarily small-scale farmers, national farm policy, conservation and loan programs are less suited to serve their needs. Grass-based livestock farmers need assistance, because they are examples of emergent systems which have the ability to simultaneously impact social cohesion, environmental resources and community economic development in a positive way if properly supported and understood.


1d

National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Agriculture
Using "New" Alternatives to Enhance Adoption of Organic Apple Production Through Integrated Research and Extension .

Principal Investigator: L. Berkett

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Apples are an important component of diversified agriculture in Vermont and New England. Although there is significant interest in organic production, there are very few organic apple orchards in New England, in part, because of the challenges associated with the traditional apple cultivar grown (McIntosh). However, because of recent shifts in consumer preference for newer cultivars, growers are planting different apple cultivars. Growers want to know what the potential is for sustainable and profitable organic production with the newer apple cultivars that are being planted in the region. This project holistically examines the opportunities and challenges of organic production within the two major orchard systems growers are using to change to new cultivars and with five of the top apple cultivars that growers identified as important to the future of the industry. The long-term goal of this multi-state, transdisciplinary project is to enhance adoption of organic apple production in Vermont and New England through research that advances the scientific knowledge base and provides practical information to stakeholders. Outputs during this past year included continued research in two certified organic orchards in Vermont and ground cover management research in Maine; planting a new organic research orchard to address identified challenges; further development of the OrganicA website (http://www.uvm.edu/organica/ ); an Organic Orchard Tour; presentations at state/regional apple grower and research/extension meetings, answering grower questions on organic apple production; and publishing 12 issues of Orchard Observations which is a web log of orchard observations disseminated to over 100 subscribers via email and posted on the OrganicA website.

Outcomes & Impacts:
This project holistically is examining the opportunities and challenges of organic apple production within the two major orchard systems growers are using to change to new cultivars and with five of the top apple cultivars that growers identified as important to the future of the industry. The project was initiated in 2006 and since then, all aspects of the OrganicA Project have received high praise. The project has increased knowledge of organic apple production and has created a change in action among program participants. All participants (100%) who responded to an evaluation of the tour of the research organic apple orchards this past year agreed that the event increased their awareness and knowledge of organic apple production and 94% rated the OrganicA Project as very/extremely important to increasing information and insights into organic apple production. Ninety-five percent (95%) of participants planned on using the information presented at the tour. In an on-line evaluation of the project, 100% of respondents said the OrganicA Project has increased their knowledge and understanding of organic apple production; 83% stated that they have used the information in decision-making. Research results and insights have been presented at state/regional workshops involving growers, scientists, extension personnel, and agricultural consultants and at national and international scientific conferences. The OrganicA Project has also become a leading resource for organic information on the world wide web. This past year there were over 10,000 visits to the OrganicA website by people seeking organic apple information.

Publications:
Berkett, L.P. 2011. Organic Orchard Observations, 12 issues, 52 pp. http://www.uvm.edu/organica/ListservesBlogs/listservesblogs.html

Berkett, L.P. 2011. OrganicA Project: Research Update, 2 009 -2010. http://www.uvm.edu/organica/OrganicA_Feb082011_VTFGApresentation.ppt

Berkett, L. P. and T. L. Bradshaw. 2011. Organic Tree Fruit Production in New England. New England Tree Fruit Prod. Guide. Coop. Extension Systems of New England.

Berkett, L., Cromwell, M., Kingsley-Richards, S., and T. Bradshaw. 2011. Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. http://www.uvm.edu/~organica/OrganicOrchardInformation/OrganicIPM/BMSB.html

Berkett, L., Moran, R., Garcia, E., Darby, H., Parsons, R., Bradshaw, T., Kingsley-Richards, S. and M. Griffith. 2011. The OrganicA Project website: http://www.uvm.edu/organica/

Berkett, L., Moran, R., Garcia, E., Darby, H., Parsons, R., Bradshaw, T., Kingsley-Richards, S. and M. Griffith. 2011. The OrganicA Project Channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/UVMOrganicA

Berkett, L., Moran, R., Garcia, E., Darby, H., Parsons, R., Bradshaw, T., Kingsley-Richards, S. and M. Cromwell. 2011. The OrganicA Project: A Multistate, Transdisciplinary Apple Research, Education, and Outreach Project. Vermont Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Winter Conference, February 2011.

Berkett, L., Moran, R., Garcia, E., Darby, H., Parsons, R., Bradshaw, T., Kingsley-Richards, S. and M. Cromwell. 2011. The OrganicA Project: A Multistate, Transdisciplinary Apple Research, Education, and Outreach Project. USDA Organic Farming Systems Research Conference, Washington, D.C., March 2011.

Bradshaw, T.L., Berkett, L.P., Kingsley-Richards, S.L., and M.L. Cromwell. 2011. Planting OrganicA Orchard 4: A High-Density Planting with Scab-Resistant Cultivars. http://www.uvm.edu/organica/OrganicOrchardInformation/Horticulture/PlantingOrchard4.html

Bradshaw, T., Griffith, M., Kingsley-Richards, S., and L. Berkett. 2011. The OrganicA Project - Update on Organic Apple Arthropod Management. New England, New York & Canadian Fruit Pest Management Workshop, Burlington, VT

Cromwell, M.L., L.P. Berkett, H.M. Darby, and T. Ashikaga. 2011. Alternative organic fungicides for apple scab management and their non-target effects. HortScience 46: 1254-1259.

Garcia, M.E., Moran, R., Berkett, L.P., Bradshaw, T., Kingsley-Richards, S. and B. Parsons. 2010. Horticultural Options when Starting an Organic Apple Orchard. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 873:277-282. http://www.actahort.org/books/873/873_30.htm

Garcia, E.M., Berkett, L.P., Moran E R., Bradshaw, T., and S. Kingsley-Richards. 2010. Top-Grafting: A Viable Alternative when Changing Cultivars in an Apple Orchard? 28th International Horticultural Congress, Lisbon-Portugal, 22-27 August 2010

Griffith, M., Bradshaw, T., Kingsley-Richards, S., and L. Berkett. 2011. The OrganicA Project -- Update on Organic Apple Disease Management. New England, New York & Canadian Fruit Pest Management Workshop, Burlington, VT

Moran, R., Garcia, E., Berkett, L., Bradshaw, T., Kingsley-Richards, S., and M. Cromwell. 2011. Organic Weed Management Strategies for Apple Trees. ASHS National Conference Proceedings: 340, OREI-4.


1d

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Funds for Apple and Grape Program .

Principal Investigator: L. Berkett

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Apples are an important agricultural commodity in Vermont's rural communities and working landscape. Of all the different fruits grown and harvested for sale in Vermont, apples comprise approximately 91% of total acreage planted to fruit. The apple industry generates jobs and supports communities and businesses across the State of Vermont and is an important part of Vermont's diversified agriculture. Apple orchards are complex ecosystems that require intensive management to produce high quality fruit. Tree growth and fruit production are intricately affected annually by the diverse biotic and abiotic factors within the environment which include numerous insects, mites, plant pathogens, weeds, and vertebrates. Effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is critical in profitable and sustainable apple production. Vermont apple growers want up-to-date information on effective IPM practices and tools so that they can incorporate them into their pest management programs to reduce economic, health, and environmental risks. In addition, the cold climate winegrape industry is rapidly expanding; it is a new crop in Vermont and in the region that offers significant value-added and agri-tourism economic opportunities. The newly emerging industry is at a critical stage in establishing production practices. With the continuation of new people who are starting winegrape vineyards with limited or no background in agriculture, it is imperative to not only continue the cold climate winegrape IPM program but also expand educational outreach and training demonstrations so the growers start from the beginning to make pest management decisions that minimize health, environmental and economic risks. The Vermont Cold Climate Winegrape IPM Program has become a resource in northern New England for IPM information. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture helps to support the outreach activities of the UVM Apple and Grape IPM which included: (1) Collection of orchard and vineyard IPM data and other information for inclusion in apple and grape newsletters and websites; (2) Development and electronic distribution of apple and grape newsletters; (3) Development and implementation of an apple industry workshop.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The grant supported the collection of orchard and vineyard IPM data and information for inclusion into apple and grape newsletters and websites; acquisition and inclusion of weather data for apple and grape newsletters and websites; development and electronic publication of apple and grape newsletters; development and implementation of an apple and grape industry education and training workshops. Information was sent to growers throughout the growing season and posted on the UVM Apple website and the UVM Cold Climate Grape website.

Publications:
Berkett, L.P. 2011. Cold Climate Grape IPM Updates. 13 issues, 33 pp. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/newsletters/

Berkett, L.P. 2011. Vermont Apple IPM Alerts. 19 issues, 49 pp. http://orchard.uvm.edu/uvmapple/pest/index.html

Berkett, L.P. 2011. The Cold Climate Grape Production website: http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/

Berkett, L.P. 2011. UVM Apple Orchard website: http://orchard.uvm.edu/


1d

Hatch/Multistate
Multi-State Evaluation of Winegrape Cultivars and Clones .

Principal Investigator: L. Berkett

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Cold climate wine grape production is an emerging new crop in Vermont and the region offering exciting value-added and agri-tourism economic opportunities. A key challenge to this young industry is the selection of wine grape cultivars which will consistently produce high quality fruit under our variable environmental conditions. High quality fruit is the basis for quality wine production. This project is evaluating viticultural and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) characteristics of new cold climate wine grape cultivars and is part of a national research project (NE1020). This past growing season was the third year of grape production in the research vineyard containing eight wine grape varieties which was planted at the University of Vermont Horticultural Research Center. Observations and data were collected in the vineyard throughout the growing season and at harvest to determine differences between the varieties. Standard research protocols including those established by the NE1020 technical committee were used. Information was posted on the UVM Cold Climate Grape website. Currently, 2011 harvest data are being analyzed.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The UVM Vineyard is a research/demonstration site that has eight winegrape varieties. The winegrape varieties are part of a national evaluation of winegrape varieties (a joint USDA NE1020 Project with the Viticulture Consortium-East) and a UVM Agric. Exp. Station Research Hatch Project; plus, the vineyard generates valuable information which is disseminated to growers through funding from the USDA NIFA E-IPM Program, VAA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and the USDA Risk Management Program. The vineyard was planted in 2007, using a randomized complete block experimental design of six blocks with four-vine plots of each winegrape variety per block. The vines are being trained to a high-wire cordon system; the soil is a well-drained Windsor loamy sand. In 2011, disease and arthropod data were collected at various times during the growing season. Phenological stages were recorded for the different grape varieties and posted on the Cold Climate Grape website at http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/UVMvineyard/2011UVMphenology.html . Yield and juice data were collected at harvest for the eight wine grape varieties and are currently being analyzed. A collaborative arrangement was established with the enologist at Cornell University to produce micro-batch wine samples for laboratory analysis. An Open House and Tour of the Vineyard was conducted in 2011 and was attended by 100 people.

Publications:
Berkett, L.P. 2011. Cold Climate Grape IPM Updates. University of Vermont. 13 issues, 33 pp. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/newsletters/

Berkett, L.P., Bradshaw, T.L., Kingsley-Richards, S.L. and M.C. Griffith. 2011. Cold Climate Grape Production website. University of Vermont. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/

Berkett, L.P., Kingsley-Richards, S.L., Bradshaw, T.L. and M.C. Griffith. 2011. 2011 Vine Phenology. University of Vermont. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/UVMvineyard/2011UVMphenology.html

Kingsley-Richards, S.L., Berkett, L.P., Bradshaw ,T.L. and M.L. Cromwell. 2010. 2010 Key Phenological Dates for Eight Winegrape Cultivars. Cold Climate Grape Production website. University of Vermont. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/UVMvineyard/2010KeyPhenologyDatesWinegrapes.pdf

Berkett, L.P., Kingsley-Richards, S.L., Bradshaw, T.L. and M.L. Cromwell. 2010. 2010 Winegrape Field Testing for Harvest. Cold Climate Grape Production website. University of Vermont. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/UVMvineyard/2010UVMfieldtesting.html

Berkett, L.P., Kingsley-Richards, S.L., Bradshaw, T.L. and M.C. Griffith. 2011. 2011 Winegrape Field Testing for Harvest. Cold Climate Grape Production website. University of Vermont. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/UVMvineyard/2011UVMfieldtesting.html

Berkett, L.P., Kingsley-Richards, S.L., Bradshaw, T.L. and M.C. Griffith. 2011. 2011 Winter Bud Injury. Cold Climate Grape Production website. University of Vermont. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/UVMvineyard/2011UVMwinterbudinjury.html


1e

New Hampshire Plant Growers Association
Further Studies on Heuchera (Coralbells) Hardiness.

Principal Investigator: L. Perry

Accomplishments & Outputs:
This project investigated the cold hardiness of several new cultivars of coralbells (Heuchera villosa) with questionable hardiness. Growers in the northeast have questioned the hardiness of these new introductions, most coming from either the west coast or France breeding programs. Plants of five cultivars (Autumn Bride, Bronze Wave, Citronelle, Encore, Miracle) were obtained during summer 2010 as plugs, were grown in quart pots, and were tested during the winter of 2010-2011 in controlled freezing chambers to various temperatures on two dates. Data on survival and regrowth were collected during spring 2011. Results have been placed online, and distributed to growers through articles in newsletters. Field trials of 60 cultivars, including the 10 tested in such controlled studies over the last 2 years, will continue to obtain at least 2 years of field survival and perfomance data and to compare with the controlled studies.

Outcomes & Impacts:
From these two years of studies, it appears there is a difference among freezing dates in winter, plants slightly more hardy and able to withstand low temperatures in mid-December at least through early January, than mid-February. Most were able to withstand a brief (half hour) exposure to 23F and still have good regrowth. When fully hardened, these cultivars were able to withstand a brief exposure much lower (at least to 12F) and still be saleable. Results generated from this study will enable growers, and home gardeners, to schedule production protocols to ensure better survival over winter, and home gardeners to choose hardy cultivars more successfully thus avoiding economic loss due to plant losses. Such knowledge on these popular perennials does not currently exist, and is of interest to the industry as witnessed by their funding of this project.

Publications:
Perry, L. Coralbells Hardiness. New Hampshire Plant Growers bulletin, August 2011.


1e

Stanley Smith Horticulture Trust
Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust Grant Proposal .

Principal Investigator: M. Starrett

Accomplishments & Outputs:
The goal of this project is to showcase the existing ornamental gardens, functional gardens (rain gardens and edible gardens) on the main campus at The University of Vermont. Creation of a website (http://www.uvm.edu/thegardens/) is underway which will detail specific gardens and their locations on campus so that faculty, staff, and students, as well as the general public can visit them either in person or remotely, via the web. To date, the website has been established and images of "The Gardens" have started to be uploaded to it. The plants in these gardens have been inventoried and put into an Excel file for future incorporation into a web-searchable/indexed database. The website URL will be part of the "A-to-Z" guide at The University of Vermont, which is found on the University's Homepage. Additionally, informational brochures containing "The Gardens" website URL will be available at key areas on campus (Davis Student Center, Admissions, and Waterman Administration building). Future activities will include continued development of the website with seasonal photos of the gardens and featured plants within each. Sources of internal and external funding will be identified which will help sustain the physical gardens through their maintenance, as well as the virtual interface with "The Gardens" through further website development.

Outcomes & Impacts:
The Gardens at The University of Vermont are a valuable resource for faculty, staff, students and the public but are not well known. This website will help residents and visitors to easily locate gardens on campus, to find out more about the plants each contains, and learn about their usefulness to the aesthetic value in the surrounding environment and/or their functional use as an edible plant or as environmental "modifier".


1e

Hatch
Herbaceous Perennials Hardiness .

Principal Investigator: L. Perry

Accomplishments & Outputs:
Many retail and wholesale nurseries grow herbaceous perennials, and many such growers in northern climates need to successfully overwinter plants either in production, or held from the previous year, in overwintering structures such as greenhouses. This study contributed to the knowledge of how cycling temperatures (hot and cold) in winter affect hardiness, as well as soil moisture and plant age (vigor) effects. Results will be shared with industry both in their publications and presentations, in journal articles, and on the author's Perry's Perennial Pages website. Based on these results, future studies will investigate the effect on hardiness of midwinter deacclimation temperatures.

Outcomes & Impacts:
Perennial growers overwintering plant stock require information to assist in deciding which containerized plants are most likely to successfully overwinter. Such results will result in significant economic savings in both fuel and plant losses. Three studies on container-grown herbaceous perennials were conducted to examine the influence of plant age, soil moisture, and temperature cycling date on cold hardiness. In January, plants were exposed to controlled freezing temperatures of -2, -5, -8, -11, and -14C and then returned to a 3-5C greenhouse. In June, plants were assessed using a visual rating scale of 1-5 (1 = dead, 3-5 = increasing salable quality, varying by cultivar) and dry weights of new growth were determined. Controlled freezing in November and March were also included in the third study. In the first study, two ages of plants were exposed to controlled freezing temperatures in January. For Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Karmina', age had no effect on either rating or dry weight in one study year. In two Sedum 'Matrona' study years, age had no effect on dry weight but ratings were higher for older plants than younger plants in the first year and higher for younger plants than older plants in the second year. In two Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky' study years, age had an effect on both rating and dry weight which were both generally higher for younger plants than older plants. In the second study, plants were maintained in pots at two different soil moisture levels prior to exposure to controlled freezing temperatures in January. Coreopsis 'Tequila Sunrise' and Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance' showed no effect on either rating or dry weight from soil moisture level. Soil moisture level had no effect on dry weight but ratings were higher for Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Cambridge' wet plants and for Heuchera 'Plum Pudding' dry plants. Carex laxiculmus 'Hobb' (Bunny Blue TM) soil moisture level had an effect where dry weight was higher for dry plants. Means at were of salable quality for Geranium and Heuchera at all temperatures and Carex laxiculmus at temperatures above -11C. The effects of soil moisture level on Carex oshimensis were inconclusive. In the third Study, during November, January, and March, plants were subjected to temperature cycling treatments prior to exposure to controlled freezing temperatures. Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Cambridge' were more tolerant of both temperature cycling and freezing temperatures in January and an increased number ofcycles in November had an advantageous effect. Sedum 'Matrona' were more tolerant of temperature cycling and freezing temperatures in January and an increased number of cycles in March had an advantageous effect. Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky' were more tolerant of temperature cycling in January in the second year ofthe study and an increased number of cycles in November had an advantageous effect in the first year and in all months in the second year.

Publications:
Kingsley-Richards, Sarah L. (2011) Influence of plant age, soil moisture, and temperature cycling date on container-grown herbaceous perennials. MS thesis. Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont. May.