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Campus Area Farms

Field day at Campus Area Farms

Ithaca, NY
Campus Area Farms manages 325 acres on 11 small farms in and around the Cornell Campus that are easily accessible for faculty and students. Research includes breeding research on popular food crops, such as corn, small grains, potatoes and pumpkins. Researchers investigate possible genetic improvements that would make these crops more suitable for growing in New York and other comparable climates.

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Research Highlights

  • The Industrial Hemp Research Project evaluates hemp varieties grown either for grain, fiber, or both, for traits such as pest and disease resistance, yield, fertility needs, and their overall performance in New York state. They are also exploring how hemp would fit into cropping rotations in the Northeast. A breeding program is working on establishing local seed production, to make it easier for New York farmers to obtain seeds within the state. Researcher: Virginia Moore
  • The Small Fruit Research Project is focused on developing sustainable production methods for berry crops. Unheated high and low tunnels are used to produce tender crops, such as blackberries, in colder climates, and to extend the season for strawberries and raspberries. This program also develops and tests agricultural practices that reduce damage from pests and manage weeds without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Researcher: Marvin Pritts
  • Cornell’s Weed Science Teaching Garden features more than 100 of the Northeast’s most tenacious, and often frustrating plants know to farmers and gardeners, some reducing yields or spreading crop diseases. But sometimes weeds can also help restore depleted soil. While some are poisonous to humans or animals, others are not only safe to eat, but tasty and nutritious. The weed garden serves Cornell’s students from several majors, scientists, and agricultural professionals alike. It is open to the public. Researcher: Antonio DiTommaso
  • As part of the New York State Hemlock Initiative researchers are testing new biocontrol strategies on a plantation at Campus Area Farms with hundreds of young hemlock trees, for their effectiveness to combat hemlock woolly adelgid – an invasive insect pest now killing hemlocks all over New York state. Hemlocks are a foundation species that creates a unique habitat for a myriad of species, and protects gorges and watersheds. Finding effective biocontrol methods fast is essential for the survival of these giant trees and the species that depend on them. Researcher: Mark Whitmore
  • The Small Grains Breeding & Genetics Research Program identifies superior genetic information in small grains such as oats, wheat, rye and barley. It aims to improve yield, nutritional quality, disease resistance, and other characteristics that increase the crop value and production efficiency. Researcher: Mark Sorrells
  • The cucurbit breeding project produces cucumber, melon and squash varieties, as well as peppers for disease resistance, superior flavor and adaptation to the Northeaster US. This project is working with the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, which aims to develop and deliver improved vegetables varieties selected for superior performance in organic growing systems. Researcher: Michael Mazourek
  • Another breeding project develops new potato varieties adapted to the Northeast that meet the ever-changing needs of the regional potato industry. Releases include 'Marcy', a high-yielding cultivar designed for making potato chips, 'Adirondack Red', a red-skinned, red-fleshed specialty variety, and 'Lehigh', a widely-adapted, scab-resistant, yellow-flesh line. Researcher: Walter De Jong
  • The Lehmann Lab has a large test kiln at Campus Area Farms to conduct research on pyrolysis, where biomass, such as agricultural waste, is heated in the absence of oxygen. This process produces biochar, which captures carbon, improves soil health, and can help to mitigate climate change. Researcher: Johannes Lehmann

Biochar production with the pyrolysis kiln