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Musgrave Research Farm

Visitors at a field day at Musgrave Research Farm in front of research plots

Aurora, NY
Musgrave Research Farm provides productive, arable land for applied agricultural research, teaching and extension with a focus on field crops and soil science research. The 450-acre farm is located in Cayuga County, the county with the most corn, hay, and soybean acres in New York. The soils are high-pH glacial tills, which are representative of the highly productive soils in the state. Musgrave Research Farm provides an excellent location for research and outreach for Cornell researchers and many of the recommendations in the Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management emanate from research conducted at the farm.

Twenty acres at Musgrave Research Farm are certified organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC, with another eight acres in transition.

The farm has an RTK satellite navigation system that broadcasts highly accurate GPS information (< 1 inch) to any farm vehicle set up to utilize the signal. It reduces not only the time working the fields, but also seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and fuel needed.

Contact Information and Directions

Postdoctoral researcher at Musgrave Research Farm

Research Focus: Corn Crops

Musgrave Research Farm is an ideal location for research on corn, New York's largest field crop. The research farm has about 40 acres in active corn research, but uses two to three times that much to ensure that these research acres are well-managed. By using crop rotations and other sustainable practices, the farm improves long-term soil health and maximizes yield, while minimizing the need for fertilizer and pesticides.

  • The Buckler Lab for Maize Genetics and Diversity is using phenotyping robots to accurately and efficiently collect data on thousands of genetically different corn lines. The data is used to measure and evaluate complex traits in corn. Researcher: Edward Buckler
  • A team is researching the use of nematodes for controlling Western and Northern corn root worm in field corn. Researcher: Elson Shields
  • Rebecca Nelson's lab studies the pathology and genetics of maize diseases, from ear rots that leave carcinogenic toxins in the food of Kenyan smallholder farmers to the leaf blights that are currently wracking the temperate US. Researcher: Rebecca Nelson
  • The Nutrient Management Spear Program conducts research to better understand nutrient cycling from manure and fertilizer, and aids in the development and implementation of practical tools for farmers and their advisors, as well as policy makers. Researcher: Quirine Ketterings
  • The Gore Lab combines quantitative genetics, genomics, analytical chemistry, and remote sensing to explain the genetic basis of complex trait variation in sweet corn. Additionally, the lab uses genomics-assisted breeding approaches to accelerate the development of sweet corn varieties with enhanced nutrient levels in the kernels. Researcher: Michael Gore
  • The Smith Corn Breeding Project focuses on breeding for improved resistance to diseases and insects, adaptation to organic production systems, and improved yield and agronomics in New York growing environments. Commercial hybrid evaluations for silage and grain yield are also done at Musgrave Research Farm. Researcher: Margaret Smith

More Research Highlights

  • By using on-farm sensors, drones and satellites to monitor the light emitted from field crops at different altitudes, researchers are learning to evaluate how well the plants are doing. The emitted light (solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence) can be mapped to different growing conditions and stressors, such as available nutrients and moisture. In the future the results from this research may allow remote monitoring, and proactive and sustainable crop management. Researcher: Ying Sun
  • The Sustainable Cropping Systems Lab is testing the performance of perennial grains, such as intermediate wheatgrass. Compared to annual grains which need to be replanted every year, perennial grains drastically reduce the need for herbicides and fuel for farm equipment, and may reduce the need for fertilizer. With its deep root systems, intermediate wheatgrass helps to protect the soil year-round, and prevents water and nutrient runoff. Researcher: Matt Ryan
  • Fusarium head blight disease or scab can seriously reduce yields of grain crops and result in contamination with mycotoxin. This project is developing and evaluating integrated pest management approaches for Fusarium head blight on malting barley. Researcher: Gary Bergstrom
  • Extensive field trials are testing interseeding new species, varieties and mixtures of cover crops into grain, corn and soybeans. Studies look at the impact of cover crops on soil health and the nutrient needs of field crops, and identify best varieties for New York state. Researcher: Matt Ryan
  • Alfalfa variety trials compare the forage yield of 14 commercially available cultivars with 7 experimental breeding lines to evaluate their potential for commercial farmers. Researcher: Julie Hansen
  • Research on the long-term effects of diverse organic cropping systems, and their impact on weed populations and soil health has been ongoing at Musgrave Research Farm for decades. Current researcher: Matt Ryan

Visitors and researchers are observing the root development of a plant at a field day