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Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences

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Ben Costanzi Receives NE SARE Research Grant

Ben Costanzi, M.S. student studying Weed Ecology and Management in the Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences, was one of 13 graduate students to receive a Northeast Region SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grant.  His NESARE project, “Improving Weed Control on the Small Farm: Evaluation of Scale-Appropriate Cultivation Tools,” was awarded $8,700 to conduct studies of hand tools, with a specific focus on (1) efficacy and working rates, and (2) farmers’ qualitative assessment of ergonomics and ease of use.  There were 51 proposals to this new NESARE program.  Ben started his program in May 2010 and has initiated field and lab experiments focused on hand tools for weed control on small-scale farms.  For more information contact Ben (, or Eric Gallandt (, or visit

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Michelle Jordan Places 3rd at American Society for Horticultural Science Meeting

This July, recent landscape horticulture graduate, Michelle Jordan, competed in an undergraduate research competition at the American Society for Horticultural Science Meeting in Palm Desert, California.  In this competition, Michelle gave a presentation about a project she led under the guidance of Drs. Stephanie Burnett and Jean Macrae from the College of Engineering.  Michelle found two native plants that could be used in sub-surface flow horizontal wastewater treatment in an Engineers without Borders project in Dolce Vivir, Honduras.  Congratulations, Michelle!

Black Bear Food Guild planting at the Rogers Farm

The student-run Black Bear Food Guild is in its 16th season and students are busy planting at their Rogers Farm field site.

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Horticulture Club Receives Honorable Mention at Bangor’s Garden Show

Bangor’s Garden Show returned this year, and UMaine’s Horticulture Club was one of eight groups to display a gardenscape.  Their theme was ‘Recycled Wishes’.  The design featured two trees welded from rebar and holding blue glass bottles.  An octagonal water feature was at the center of the display.  Plants in the gardenscape included purple alum root, inkberry, birch, sunflowers, and impatiens.  The students received an Honorable Mention for their design.  UMaine alum Robert Bangs from Windswept Gardens received ‘Best in Show’, and Mary Lou Hoskins from Greencare Interior Plantscapes received the People’s Choice Award for a collaborative design with Mo McGlinn from McGlinn’s Wee Gardens.  Congratulations to our students and alumni for their achievements!!!

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Lauren Kolb, Ph.D. candidate, awarded the 2010-11 Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF) Fellowship.

Lauren’s research on managing weed/crop interference and integrating physical and cultural weed control in organic cereal crops includes a comparison of the most promising practices developed by researchers and farmers in northern Europe.  Briefly, her thesis is that the fundamental agronomic practices used by most organic grain growers, practices developed over the last 50 years of input-intensive production, are poorly suited to organic production, where weed pressure is often very high.  Lauren is comparing a range of production practices which aim to further enhance the competitive ability of the cereal crop, encouraging enhanced weed-suppression, as well as an innovative cultivation-based strategy in which the cereal crop is grown in wider rows, like corn or soybean, to permit aggressive cultivation between the rows.  These practices have been evaluated in organic barley grown for dairy feed, and Lauren has now shifted her focus to organic bread wheat grown for regional millers.

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Contact Information

Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences
5722 Deering Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5722
Phone: (207) 581-2947 | Fax: (207) 581-2999
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System