Lorraine Berkett, Terry Schettini, Dan Cooley, Dean Polk and David Rosenberg
Developing sustainable production systems based on the disease resistant apple cultivars (DRACs) and IPM techniques is a key objective of this multidisciplinary project involving 19 principle investigators across 5 cooperating institutions. Cultivar selection is a crucial decision for an apple grower which will impact the farm's competitiveness and profitability for many years. Factors that growers consider when deciding what cultivars to plant include consumer acceptance and marketability; winter hardiness; yield potential; fruit storage qualities, color, taste, and size; and potential pest management problems. These factors are being researched in this project. Disease resistant orchards will undoubtedly present new economic considerations to growers, wholesalers, and processors. A further objective is to provide economic analyses of alternative techniques and to forecast the impact of changes in production systems on the Northeast apple industry. Apple growers must have access to research-generated information that addresses the critical issues facing them Rapid information dissemination is a high priority of this project. The Northeast Sustainable Apple Production Newsletter has over 1200 active subscribers across the United States and in 7 foreign countries. The Management Guide for Low-Input Sustainable Apple production has been well received and continues to be requested world-wide.
Robert H. Snyder, Jonathan P. Lynch, Donald Kaufman and Terry Schettini
Sustainable agricultural systems favor high organic amendments over chemical fertilizers for maintaining long-term soil fertility. To study root responses bell pepper was grown in soil treated with dairy compost, raw dairy manure, and a chemical fertilizer mix at Rodale Institute Research Center, Kutztown, Pa. Root crowns were excavated at 2-week intervals and total length determined from root subsamples by computer-based image analysis. Roots from compost amended plots displayed a simple branching pattern; a first order branch with short second order branches. Fertilizer stimulated a complex branching; short, thickened first and second order branches that supported long and thin third and fourth order roots. An intermediate form in the raw dairy plots yielded both simple and complex branching forms. All forms were dynamic within each treatment over time. Crown length averaged 250-300 m across treatments 6 weeks after transplanting. Raw dairy and fertilizer treatments decreased slightly in length by week 10, while compost remained constant. After heavy rainfall crown length increased to 400 m for compost and raw dairy, and to 750 m for the fertilizer treatment by week 13. Length for the fertilizer treatment dropped nearly 200 m by week 14. though an increase of 100-200 m occurred for compost and raw dairy treated roots respectively.