Graduate student researcher seeking land for agroecosystem study

Farming Experience

Farming experience

Less than three years of experience

Type of farming experience

  • Agricultural degree
  • Something else/additional (describe below)

Description of farming experience

I have previously worked as an agricultural researcher at the University of Minnesota where I studied methods in spotted-wing drosophila management. I am currently a PhD student studying plant-insect interactions in New England agricultural systems.

Farming Plans

State(s) of interest

  • Massachusetts

Location details

Clark University, Worcester, MA

Minimum acreage desired

0.1

Maximum acreage desired

1

Arrangements desired

  • Lease
  • Something else

Arrangement description

I am seeking land to lease for an agricultural study. The absolute minimum acreage required for my study is very small (300 square meters or ~ 0.074 acres), but more land would mean we could include more replicates.

Planned farming practices

  • Not certified, but follow organic practices
  • Sustainable/regenerative

Farming practices description

My study involves the use of organic farming practices, and seeks to learn more about the use of companion plants in conservation biocontrol.

Planned farming enterprises

  • Vegetables

Farming enterprises description

I am interested in utilizing flowering legumes (patridge pea) as a companion plant for summer squash and other cucurbits.

Infrastructure needed

  • Irrigation

Description of infrastructure needed

I would only require the land necessary to conduct this experiment and irrigation hookups.

Business planning description

N/A

Additional Information

I work in the lab of Dr. Kate Mathis at Clark University, where we primarily study the ecology of ants. Ants are understudied as an organism for biocontrol, and are generally written off as a pest or neutral group of insects in agriculture. In nature, ants form protective mutualisms with plants that produce structures called extrafloral nectaries (EFNs), driving away herbivores from these plants in exchange for nectar. Partridge peas are a native legume that produces EFNs and is highly attractive to ants and other insects that have already been proven to be important in biocontrol (e.g., beetles, parasitoid wasps). I aim to determine if this legume can be utilized as a companion plant in vegetable production by growing partridge peas alongside summer squash. However, Clark is a small university that does not have research land of its own, meaning that I need to search for land to conduct these experiments. See the document I have uploaded in the "Business Plan" section for more detailed information.

What I can provide using funds from the Mathis Lab (materials to cover a 300 square meter field)

  • Money for leasing your land based on the average rate of cost/acre for a season in MA.
  • Straw mulch.
  • Manure/compost fertilizer (organic).
  • Zucchini plugs grown on campus (OMRI listed potting mix: Sunshine mix #4).
  • Partridge pea seeds, organic (pre-inoculated with OMRI listed inoculant).
  • Drip tape and all accessories for irrigation.
  • Assistance with plot cleanup at the end of the season if needed.

What we would need from the land owner

  • Space for the experiment (~300 square meters).
  • Water for irrigation.
  • Potentially: Labor for help with plot maintenance (weeding, turning on irrigation, etc.), organic pesticide application (if there is a bad pest outbreak that year) and harvests during experiment. This will depend on the distance of the farm from Clark University. Farms that are closer will be easier for me to come out and work in the field on a more regular schedule.

Compensation for use of space (other than the lease we pay)

  • Land owners can keep/sell all produce generated from this project. 
  • If this experiment takes place on an active farm that would otherwise be profiting from that space, loss of yield will be compensated: 
    • For space needed to create bare ground buffer zones where plants would otherwise be growing. Calculated by taking average yield per squash plant.
    • If the partridge pea treatment has a negative impact on squash yield.

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