PROJECT CLOSED: Field Crops Nutrient Management Applied Research and Extension Internship

Worksite Location
CCE of Livingston County and NWNY Team
Project Dates
June 1-August 15
Faculty Sponsor
Quirine Ketterings, Department of Animal Science
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Jodi Putnam and Mike Stanyard, NWNY Team
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Cornell Cooperative Extension NWNY Team Field Crops Specialists Jodi Putman and Mike Stanyard collaborate with the Nutrient Management Spear Program and other faculty programs at Cornell University on applied research and extension that aims to benefit field crop and dairy producers in a 9-county region of western New York. The CCE intern will help plan, conduct, analyze, and evaluate on-farm research with the team and participate in farmer education events focused on use of cover crops, nutrient management, and integrated pest management in field crop rotations. Cover cropping is increasingly done in the region, as farmers recognize the numerous benefits that cover crops can offer, but additional work is ongoing. A current study aims to determine: (1) the most effective fall cover crop planting rate to enable planting into the established cover crop the following spring, and (2) cover crop seed mixtures that minimize cost while maximizing beneficial impacts on soil health and farm productivity. In addition to the research, the intern will be involved in a series of farmer discussion group meetings and Tactical Agriculture Team (TAg) meetings for producers concerning the acceleration and adoption of cover crops and soil health related beneficial management practices in New York.

Roles and Responsibilities

The intern will work with the CCE supervisors, crop consultants, and farmers to collect information on cover crop biomass, carbon and nitrogen content, main crop stand density and yield, weed, pest and disease presence, soil health indicators, as part of the research. The intern will also participate in a survey of farmers’ perception of cover crop timing, rates species/mixes and planting green. Other activities include weed identification and sampling, plant disease sampling, insect scouting/trapping, and sampling of industrial hemp trials ongoing in the counties. The intern will visit farmer fields throughout the region and gather input for weekly Crop Alert bulletins. The intern will have the opportunity to write an agronomy factsheet, and participate in other extension events, ranging from attending Twilight meetings and Tactical Agriculture Team (TAg) meetings for producers, interactions with local crop consulting firms, and assistance of dairy, livestock and farm business staff in the NWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Team ( The intern will assist in social media based extension activities (Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps, Twitter, etc.). This internship provides an outstanding opportunity for an agriculturalist-in-training to shadow leading extension professionals as they interact with producers, agribusiness, research specialists and the general public.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

A strong interest in production agriculture is essential. Coursework and/or practical experience in field crop production, soil science, nutrient management and integrated pest management are preferred. A willingness to work hard, learn quickly, and professionally interact with farmers and other members of the agricultural community are essential for success in this position.

Benefits and Skills

On-farm research and interacting with farmers is the key to identifying new, successful, and innovative management tools, and practices for decision making. By working with producers as well as CCE staff, the intern will learn about and gain skills in on-farm research. Specifically, the intern will be involved in a project that tests the accuracy of current management tools and practices for cover crop establishment while learning what cover crop seed mixtures work best to minimize cost and maximize beneficial impacts of soil health and farm productivity. The intern will have the opportunity to participate and gain knowledge in all phases of field crop research (i.e. demonstration, training, planning, planting, treatment preparation, application, equipment calibration, field plot monitoring and maintenance, field events, sample collection, training material preparation, harvest, data entry and report generation). The intern will learn first-hand how to design and deliver educational programs that meet the needs of extension clientele pertaining to issues related to corn, soybeans, small grains, crop production, soil health, plant nutrition, forage crops, and animal nutrition.