COLSA Research Directory

COLSA scientists conduct research on a wide array of issues in areas of human and animal health, sustainable food production and nutrition, natural resource and wildlife management, and environmental quality. Learn about the research that’s pushing the scientific frontiers that will help overcome challenges and capture critical opportunities to improve the lives and livelihoods of communities in New Hampshire and beyond.

Do you have content that you'd like to publish within this directory? Fill out our Research Spotlight intake form. You can contact Nick Gosling or Sarah Schaier with any questions.

A photo of cultivated NH weeds (left) and a potted pitseed goosefoot plant (right) Inspired Horticultural Report
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
Northern New England weeds could be domesticated and enriched with traits making them suitable for cultivation, like more compact sizes and larger seeds that remain on the plant during maturity, through an accelerated breeding process known as de novo domestication. Researchers found that three traits (plant height, degree of branching and time of initial flowering) all correlated.
Topic(s): Genetics and Genomics, Resilient Agriculture, Specialty Crops
A photo of figs for the Inspired Horticultural Report
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
Figs are grown commercially in mild climates where winter temperatures do not routinely fall below 10°F. However, avid gardeners successfully grow figs in cold climates using various strategies to protect them from freezing, such as growing them initially in pots that can be moved into a protected environment; growing in heated greenhouses; or digging, wrapping and burying them in soil trenches. In 2017, research began to successfully over-winter figs grown in-ground in northern New England. The research studied the effects of row covers, low tunnels and high tunnels on winter survival rates, plant growth and fruit yield for several varieties.
Topic(s): Farm Management, Resilient Agriculture, Specialty Crops
A photo of Brussels sprout plants for the Inspired Horticultural Report
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
Brussels sprout (Brassica oleracea L. var. gemmifera) is a popular fall crop in New England. However, rapid turnover in the commercial availability of Brussels sprout cultivars – coupled with dramatic differences in the performance and adaptability among cultivars – make it a challenging crop for growers outside of major production regions to select varieties that will consistently perform well. While a 2013–15 study of Brussels sprout varieties offered recommendations for New England producers, new varieties have since been released. This research focused on re-examining best-performing varieties for the northern New England region and updating best practice recommendations.
Topic(s): Farm Management, Resilient Agriculture, Specialty Crops
A photo of kiwiberries on the vine for the Inspired Horticultural Report
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
Introduced to the Northeast in the 1870s and grown widely as a backyard and garden plant throughout the region for nearly 150 years, the kiwiberry (Actinidia arguta) shows great potential for commercial success. The plant is a woody perennial climbing vine that produces clusters of small, grape-sized kiwi-like fruit. Due to high levels of carotenoids and anthocyanins, the nutritious flesh of a kiwiberry can assume a wide range of attractive colors, from dark greens to yellows to reds to purples. The fruit is high in vitamin C and one of the richest. sources of lutein (an antioxidant) in commonly consumed fruits.
Topic(s): Genetics and Genomics, Resilient Agriculture, Specialty Crops
A photo of table grapes on the vine for the Inspired Horticultural Report
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
Table grapes are a relatively new crop for the Northeast. Several new varieties – released since the 1970s – may be better adapted to our climate than the typical table grapes grown in California. In New Hampshire, the number of acres of grapes has risen since 2017, when farm sales of mostly wine grapes were valued at $385,000. The specific cultivars of table grapes grown and the way their vines are managed can impact productivity, fruit quality and disease susceptibility.
Topic(s): Farm Management, Resilient Agriculture, Specialty Crops
A photo of tomatoes on the vine for the Inspired Horticultural Report
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
Different varieties of tomatoes with season-long harvest periods are commonly grown in high-tunnel structures throughout the world. However, many tomato varieties suffer from a phenomenon called ‘June drop’ in which a plant's first four to five fruit clusters set perfectly, but the subsequent two to three clusters set poorly and the plant's productivity suddenly drops. This may occur due to the excessive demand for resources by the already-set fruit. Reducing fruit load early in the season could prevent this productivity drop. This research examined the impact of thinning and removing tomato fruit clusters on fruit weight, total marketable yields, prevalence of defects and season-long fruit production.
Topic(s): Farm Management, Resilient Agriculture
A photo of a large bail of alfalfa grass
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
Research has shown that dairy cows fed legume silages consumed more dry matter (DM) and produced more milk than those receiving grass silages. However, across northeastern U.S. dairies, legumes only contributed to 26% of grazed forage. Research to improve legume persistence while closing knowledge gaps about which legume-grass mixtures are best suitable for producing profitable milk (i.e., higher butterfat and protein) is needed to make organic and conventional dairies in New England more competitive in the long run.
Topic(s): Dairy Science, Farm Management
A photo showing a bunch of oysters in a tray
Biological Sciences, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
New research on the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) show that both farmed and wild oyster filter nitrogen from the water, processing the element in their shells and soft tissues and helping reducing cases of eutrophication. In a recent paper, scientists showed that oysters and other shellfish can help complement land-based nutrient management practices, such as upgrades to wastewater treatment plants around New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary to reduce nitrogen output.
Topic(s): Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Aquaculture
A photo of strawberries (on the left) and ornamental strawberry flowers (right) for the Inspired Horticultural Report
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station
With over 700,000 pounds produced and $2.3 million in farm sales, strawberries are an important crop for New Hampshire farmers. But improving the cultivated strawberry through breeding is particularly challenging. The cultivated strawberries has four times as many chromosome sets as humans, animals and most other crops, which significantly increases its genomic complexity. Research to untangle the plant's genetic structure will enable scientists to more quickly and effectively develop cultivated strawberry varieties that help New England farmers be more resilient and successful.
Topic(s): Genetics and Genomics, Resilient Agriculture, Specialty Crops
A New England cottontail hiding in its native shrubland habitat
Biological Sciences, Natural Resources and the Environment, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
An unintended impact of land-use changes over the past century has been a more than 86 percent decrease in the range of the New England cottontail. Ongoing habitat restoration efforts will help the survival of the New England cottontail, and new research by COLSA researchers finds that these efforts will also benefit at least 12 shrubland-obligate bird species with which the cottontail shares its habitat.
Topic(s): Ecosystem Services, Genetics and Genomics