Federal Grants Promote Cornell Pest Management Research

Cornell has been awarded nearly $1.5 million to fund research aimed at promoting safer, more effective pest management. The awards announced Nov. 16 are part of $9.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for projects to help mitigate pests, weeds, and diseases on farms and in communities.

The awards will fund research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences aimed at protecting major agricultural crops, and a project to implement integrated pest management in affordable housing across the U.S.

Cornell received the largest share of funding among the 16 universities given awards through NIFA's Crop Protection and Pest Management Program (CPPM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

Investigators: Sarah Pethybridge, assistant professor in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology (PPPMB) Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS); Julie Kikkert, extension vegetable specialist; Niloofar Vaghefi, postdoctoral associate; and Linda Hanson, USDA-ARS, Michigan

Cercospora leaf spot caused by the fungus Cercospora beticola is a major limitation to yield and quality of table beet. Defoliation caused by the fungus can reduce yield and aesthetic value, and make mechanical harvesting impossible, resulting in complete crop loss

The goal of the project is to assess disease forecasting models, generate critical data about the impacts of the fungus, and get information out to growers. 

The project term ends August 31, 2018

Investigators: Sarah Pethybridge and Frank Hay, senior research associate.

Onion is an important crop in New York, with an annual value of $40.5 million. In recent years growers have noted increased leaf senescence, a problem that can substantially impact yield through preventing onion bulbs from reaching optimum size.

The major goal of this project is to develop an integrated management strategy for control of Stemphylium leaf blight of onion in New York

The project term ends August 31, 2018

Investigator: Steve Young, Director of the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center and SIPS adjunct assistant professor 

The project's primary goal is to successfully implement IPM in at least 50 affordable housing properties, realizing long-term, cost-effective solutions with minimal impact on human health and the environment with maximum impact on the pests.

The project term ends August 31, 2017

Investigator: Marc Fuchs, associate professor PPPMB, SIPS, and director of the Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network (NEPDN)

The project is designed for the NEPDN, located at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY,  to contribute to the overall mission of the National Plant Diagnostic Network. The overall goal of the project is to safeguard U.S. agricultural crops and natural plant resources against introduced and endemic pathogens and pests.

The project term ends August 31, 2018