Farm Services


Ithaca, NY
Farm Services provides both research and production farming on acreage in and around the campus. It hosts as many as 20 research projects at any given time, as well as cropping close to 1,000 acres of hay, corn, barley, wheat and soybeans. Farm Services maintains a college "land-bank" that keeps land in agricultural production, as the need for research acreage ebbs and flows. Farm Services also operates the university compost facility, which currently handles about 6,000 tons of waste annually, making it the second largest recycling operation in Tompkins county. Cereal grains and forages grown on Farm Services land are either used within Cornell, or sold to defray the cost of operations.

Services Offered

Farm Services does much more than manage roughly 1,000 acres that is home to important national and international agricultural research. It also provides agricultural services and equipment at substantial cost savings to departments, programs and researchers across the university.

  • Provides on-demand tilling, drainage, trucking, mowing, excavating, brush & land clearing, machinery repair, snow removal, and much more.
  • Maintains a rental fleet of excavation equipment, commercial trucks, tractors, and farm machinery for use of all departments at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • Operates a fuel station that serves tractors, trucks and large machinery for more than 10 departments.

Research Highlights

  • Large scale research on forage and biofuel grasses is underway to identify the best grasses, or "feedstocks" for bioenergy development in the Northeast. Researchers are studying quality, yields, disease and insect resistance of the best potential candidates of warm and cool-season grass species for conversion to biofuel, a top priority of the federal government. Read more
  • Research on warm and cool season grasses are studied for use in grass pelleting, with the focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use, enhancing local energy security, encourage species diversity and wildlife nesting options and encouraging rural development.
  • Researchers are testing efficacy of various biodegradable, sustainable, environment-friendly textiles and fibers to replace conventional plastic composites and reduce pollution and waste.

Composting Facility

Compost Facilities Farm Services operates the university compost facility, which recently won a 2009 EPA Environmental Quality Award. It handles 57 waste streams and about 6,000 tons of waste annually that would otherwise be trucked to landfill more than 30 miles away. Farm Services collects about 850 tons of food scraps and other compostables from 11 dining halls on campus. It also transports and composts an additional 3,300 tons of animal manure and bedding from the School of Veterinary Medicine and 300 tons of plant material and soil from greenhouses and other plant growth operations on campus.

All of the campus organic waste material is transported to the four-acre composting facility close to campus, and piled in large windrows, roughly the length of a football field. Runoff is collected in two large leachate collection ponds. Compost windrows are turned regularly using a large windrow turner for this process.

Windrow TurnerIt takes about six to nine months to turn waste into compost, which is then used to enrich the soil on the 1000 acres managed by Farm Services and provided to other Cornell farms, fields and orchards. The high-quality compost is also sold to the public.

Tours and demonstrations at the compost facility help other programs and communities around the state make decisions about their composting needs. The facility complies with DEC360 regulations to provide a prototype for other composting operations.

More information on composting