2019 Young Scholar Enhancement Grant Projects

With attached research posters:

LS16-271 Intensifying Cropping Systems in Semi-Arid Environments to Enhance Soil Health and Profitability; Erosion is a constant threat on the semi-arid Texas High Plains. Different management practices can have different effects on soil health and erodibility. Measurements of aggregate stability can help track the influence of management practices on potential soil erodibility.

LS16-275 Evaluating Organic Pest Control Products for Strawberries in Combination with High and Low Tunnels for Limited-Resource Farmers in the Mid-South; The objective of our project was to evaluate commercially available biocontrol products for efficacy, yield and cost in strawberries, as well as provide outreach training for growers in Texas and Arkansas. Our target audience was limited-resource, small-acreage farmers in the mid-south who struggle with organic strawberry production.

LS17-277 Indicators and Soil Conservation Practices for Soil Health and Carbon Sequestration; This project seeks to identify and promote soil health indicators that assess, and associated conservation practices that enhance, long-term soil carbon sequestration on small, family-owned farms and ranches in the southern Great Plains.

LS17-280 A Supply Chain Approach to Finding Win-win Sustainable Solutions for Edible But Unharvested Produce; The purpose of this project was to fully design two new Continuing Education Modules for the Extension Master Food Volunteer Program. These two modules provide in-depth exploration of topics related to agricultural sustainability, which is covered only briefly in the core training curriculum. Together they comprise the first two installments of the “Sustainability Series” of the Continuing Education Curriculum.

LS18-298 Biocontrol with Benefits: Enhancing Sustainability by Adding Value; A critical pest of concern for peach and other stone fruits in the Southeastern US is the Peachtree borer (PTB), Synanthedon exitiosa. PTB larvae bore into roots and cause severe feeding damage. This pest is often controlled with broad spectrum chemical insecticides, particularly chlorpyrifos. The continued use of chemical insecticides can have negative effects on the environment. Effective alternative pest management strategies are needed. Our research has indicated that the entomopathogenic nematode (EPNs), Steinernema carpocapsae, can cause PTB mortality at comparable rates to chlorpyrifos. However, EPNs are highly susceptible to desiccation. Therefore, the first objective in this study was to determine an optimum S. carpocapsae formulation to achieve efficacy by protecting the nematodes from environmental stress. In additional to PTB, several insect pests feed on peaches and threaten production. Root-feeding weevils cause significant damage to peach roots in Georgia, but no tactics have been developed to control these pests in a peaches. Hence, our second objective was to determine whether S. carpocapsae applications targeted toward PTB are also reducing weevil populations. If control of PTB with EPNs also provides suppression of root feeding weevils that would be an added benefit of the biocontrol approach.

LS18-300 Extending Roots of Fresh Stop Markets Across the Southeast Region; The affordability and accessibility of fresh, local produce has marginalized communities across the Southeast region of the United States for decades. These communities have been comprised of lower-income people who do not have the ability to buy this produce, thus, they resort to cheaper, unhealthy food. To combat this, New Roots, Inc. has created Fresh Stop Markets (FSM’s) in Louisville, Brandenburg, and Hazard, Kentucky that provide communities access to fresh, local, affordable produce. Through FSM’s, New Roots, Inc. builds the capacity and leadership qualities of farmers to achieve agricultural sustainability and social justice. In order to achieve these goals, FSM’s provide a new economic opportunity that financially supports their farming operation, reduces the environmental impact of agricultural and transportation practices, introduces an education component about the produce at the markets, and offers produce at lower prices on a sliding scale model.