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New Jersey - Cape May Plant Materials Center Highlights

Highlights

ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS TO AGRICULTURAL LAND AND COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS

Enhancing coastal plant systems through plant selection and technology development

  • Plant diversity on sand dunes is broadened through the evaluation of diversified seed mixtures to supplement vegetative plantings. Direct seeding trials have shown potential for other Mid-Atlantic dune adapted species in addition to 'Atlantic' coastal panicgrass.
  • Selection of a cold tolerant sea oats for the northern Mid-Atlantic area is ongoing.
  • High Tide Germplasm switchgrass, a local ecotype from the Chesapeake Bay area, is the only commercially available switchgrass developed specifically for riparian applications and shoreline stabilization.
  • In addition to field testing, controlled environment salinity tolerance trial protocols are being developed to better determine potential plant species that may provide ecological benefits and revenue on cropland impacted by saltwater intrusion.

RESTORING NATIVE PLANT COMMUNITIES

Ecotypes in support of Farm Bill programs and ecological restoration

  • Selection of Suther prairie native warm season grasses. Suther is a remnant eastern prairie in the piedmont of North Carolina. The Piedmont prairie is a special emphasis area for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in North Carolina. 
  • Direct seeding technologies are being developed and demonstrated to establish smooth cordgrass in intertidal areas for shoreline stabilization.
  • Evaluating success of native plant species to compete with and inhibit the reinvasion of invasive plant species.
  • Researching native pollinator-plant interactions in a cooperative project with Rutgers University.
  • Evaluation of several native warm season grasses for application in riparian buffers.
  • Investigating the direct seeding of shrubs for coastal and riparian areas for wildlife habitat improvement.

CARBON SEQUESTRATION AND SOIL QUALITY

Changes in soil carbon by using native grasses and cover cropping systems

  • Soil carbon changes under six native warm-season grasses are being monitored in a 15-year study.
  • Baseline data for soil quality attributes are developed and changes in soil quality from various cover cropping systems are evaluated. Comparisons of long-term warm-season grass, cool-season pasture, annual cover crops/fallow, and mixed stands of cool/warm-season grasses provide information on changes in soil quality.
  • Evaluation of adaptability of several southern legumes for the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Timber Germplasm switchgrass was selected and released as a high yielding biomass crop.