1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
1) To quantify the hydrological system function at various scales in order to predict and assess the efficacy of new management practices; quantify the impacts of innovative practices at field, farm and watershed scales; predict the fate and transport of nutrients and pesticides; and provide a better understanding of the roles of climate, soils and management in cycling of these contaminants. 2) To develop economical and environmentally sound irrigation and drainage management tools, practices, and technologies that conserve water and protect regional water resources and supplies, and foster safe nutrient and pesticide strategies based upon improved knowledge of the function of wetlands and vegetated waterways.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Research will be conducted in collaboration with University of MA-Amherst scientists at the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham, MA and with USDA-ARS scientists in Madison, WI. The overall goal is to enhance the productivity and profitability of the cranberry production system to meet the needs of cranberry producers; the demands of consumers for nutritious, safe, and affordable fruit; and the desire of the general public to protect the environment. Time-domain reflectometry and other measurement techniques will be used for measuring soil water availability for a range of applicable soils, cranberry cultivars, and drainage management practices. Irrigation systems that incorporate real-time measurements of soil water availability with automated irrigation applications across the same ranges of relevant soils, cultivars, and management practices will be evaluated for their impacts on yield, water use efficiency, and pesticide/nutrient losses. These systems will be integrated with existing automated systems already in place for linking temperature and irrigation for frost protection. Existing and new cultivars and IPM practices under development at both the East Wareham, MA and Madison, WI locations will be incorporated into the study design. Vegetated waterways and filter strips will be evaluated for their efficacy in reducing pesticide and nutrient losses. This research will be integrated with research conducted by UMass and Madison collaborators in plant nutrition, weed management, entomology, pathology, physiology, fertility, and plant breeding to enhance the overall sustainability of cranberry production systems.
3. Progress Report
This new project was initiated in FY2010. The overall goal is to enhance productivity and profitability of the cranberry production system to meet the needs of cranberry producers; the demands of consumers for nutritious, safe, and affordable fruit; and the desire of the general public to protect the environment. Towards this goal, on-site meetings were held with cranberry industry representatives and scientists at the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station in East Wareham, MA to identify and refine the research problems to be addressed. Based on this input, we recruited (internationally) for a Research Hydrologist/Research Agricultural Engineer to provide leadership in the disciplines of hydrology and agricultural engineering employed in cranberry production and to evaluate/develop tools, practices, and technology that conserve and protect water resources in cranberry production systems. Laboratory and office renovations were initiated at the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station for providing workspace for the new Research Hydrologist/Research Agricultural Engineer and technical support. Contacts were also established with a USDA-ARS management unit in Madison, WI to develop collaborations with two new scientists under recruitment for cranberry related research at that location.
5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Research accomplishments from this project will benefit small farms, because approximately 26,560 farms in the New England Region (94%) are classified as small farms (2002 Census of Agriculture).