Department of Plant Science

Offering Penn State degrees in agroecology, golf course turfgrass management, horticulture, landscape contracting, and turfgrass science.

Plant Science News

Younger millennials give more thought and pay more attention to experiences rather than products, researchers say, so wineries should consider appealing to these patrons' environmentalism and preference for sustainability in tasting rooms and operations.
Embracing sustainable practices would help some winery tasting rooms stand out
November 7, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Wineries in the mid-Atlantic region should consider recycling and encouraging their customers to bring bottles to their tasting rooms for refilling to distinguish their businesses from so many others, according to a team of wine-marketing researchers who surveyed consumers. With competition to attract visitors stiff and still growing among the hundreds of wineries in the region, connecting a winery’s brand to sustainable practices would attract more visitors to its tasting room, according to Kathleen Kelley, professor of horticultural marketing and business management in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. The strategy, researchers believe, would especially appeal to environmentally conscious younger customers.
Researchers used the Spring Creek watershed — which drains an area of about 150 square miles into Bald Eagle Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River — for the project because it is one of the best-studied watersheds in the Chesapeake drainage.
Choosing most cost-effective practices for sites could save in bay cleanup
November 7, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Using site-specific watershed data to determine the most cost-effective agricultural best management practices — rather than requiring all the recommended practices be implemented across the entire watershed — could make staying below the Chesapeake Bay’s acceptable pollution load considerably less expensive. That’s the conclusion of a novel, five-year study conducted by an interdisciplinary team of Penn State and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, who modeled and compared runoff and pollution from Spring Creek watershed in central Pennsylvania under two scenarios: using all of the best management practices ( BMPs) identified for a watershed and a customized, most cost-effective set of BMPs tailored for Spring Creek watershed.
Penn State senior shares his passion for landscape contracting
October 6, 2019
Jack Pohutsky, a senior in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, was attracted to the rewarding, hands-on work of landscape contracting, and he took to the major immediately. Through small, student-focused classes, which touched on subjects such as horticulture, biology and design software, he has gained valuable knowledge and experience.
A good example of cross-sectional images yielded by laser ablation tomography.
Novel use of laser technology reveals interactions between roots, soil organisms
September 18, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A novel use of a custom laser system — developed in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences eight years ago — allows researchers to see how soil organisms affect plant roots. The discovery has implications for future breeding of more resilient and productive crops, according to an international team of scientists. “This research shows how we can use laser ablation tomography — often referred to as LAT — to visualize the anatomy of roots from several crop species, and see how soil organisms such as fungi, herbivorous nematodes and insects interact with these roots in three dimensions,” said Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant science.