- Fruits: berries (cranberries)
- Crop Production: application rate management
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
- Pest Management: biorational pesticides, chemical control, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, prevention, sanitation, weed ecology
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
The primary goal of this three-year project is to develop, demonstrate, and implement grower-identified practices on MA cranberry farms that improve water and canopy management to reduce costs and improve pest management. On the grower-team farms, we will introduce low-cost practices with potential to increase fruit quality and contribute to pesticide reduction: pruning (and use as an alternative to sanding), irrigation scheduling, drainage improvement, bed sanitation, and integrated nutrient management. We expect that all of these practices will contribute to a more open, drier canopy and will improve air circulation, decrease duration of wetness events (reducing need for fungicides), improve penetration of biorational pesticides, promote better fruit color, enhance yield, and eliminate or reduce the need for sanding. The project will consist of the following components: initial survey of grower practices; applied research comparing sanding and pruning; on-farm demonstrations of water, canopy, and nutrient management practices, integrated in combinations; on-farm workshops, newsletters, and other educational opportunities; and final project assessment to include a survey and interviews. Essential to the success of this endeavor is the reputation of the implementation team - a group of respected, forward-thinking growers who will provide project guidance, demonstration sites, and testimonials regarding what works. They are larger growers (manage >25% of MA acreage) with the resources to conduct on-farm research and the willingness to share results with the small farm operators who make up more than a third of the MA industry. By project's end, the 5-grower team will have implemented an integrated suite of water and canopy management practices and will have helped an additional 15 growers adopt at least two of those practices.
Performance targets from proposal:
At least 50 Massachusetts cranberry growers/farm managers will participate in on-farm educational opportunities regarding pruning, irrigation scheduling, nutrition management, and drainage enhancement practices. At least 20 of these will adopt two or more of the practices by the end of the project, 5 adopting the entire suite as project designer/participants. In so doing, participants will improve coverage of biopesticides, reduce insect pest refugia in lush vines, improve removal of leaf trash (which harbors disease inoculum), improve air circulation (which lowers fruit rot pressure and reduces need for fungicides), and increase penetration of light (which impacts fruit color and yield). Their farms will be designed and managed efficiently and with minimal environmental impact, both critical factors in long-term sustainability.
This project will contribute to the Northeast SARE outcome statement by demonstrating the effectiveness of easily integrated, low-cost practices, developed based on grower-identified needs. Project beneficiaries will improve the environment on their farms, managing resources wisely in such a way as to reduce the need for pesticides and maximize the effectiveness of those pesticides that must be used, while not sacrificing production.