Agriculture in the United States is currently facing major challenges. Amid abundant yields, many family farmers are going bankrupt. Fertilizers that were once cheap have become more expensive. Pesticides that were once effective are failing to overcome pests that have developed resistance. Soil erosion threatens long term productivity in many areas. Public concern over contamination of water and food by agricultural chemicals is increasing.
In developing countries, soil erosion, deforestation, desertification, loss of genetic diversity, pesticide poisoning, poverty, malnutrition, and hunger remain major problems, despite the efforts of numerous agricultural development programs.
To address these challenges, the University of Maine, through various degree programs, has offered a comprehensive research focus in Sustainable Agriculture since 1988, emphasizing:
- increasing farm economic resilience and profitability by decreasing the costs of crop and livestock production;
- building soil tilth and fertility through efficient use of crop rotations, multiple cropping systems, animal manures, and recycled waste products;
- protecting water quality, worker health, and food safety;
- managing pests with multi-faceted, ecologically sound strategies that have minimal reliance on synthetic, broad-spectrum pesticides;
- creating strong rural communities that can be sustained through years of fluctuating crop prices and unpredictable weather.
Although program activities are focused in Maine, the agroecological principles that we study and apply are relevant throughout the world. Graduate students in the program are from all parts of the United States as well as Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. No formal international component to the program exists, but faculty and students have worked in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Kenya.
Graduate students performing research in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Maine can earn one of the following degrees, depending on their specific interests:
Doctor of Philosophy
Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Master of Science
Botany and Plant Pathology
Ecology and Environmental Sciences
Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences
Resource Economics and Policy
Course work is drawn from the offerings of many departments. Research activities are conducted at the University’s Rogers Farm, near Orono, and at the University’s Aroostook Farm, in northern Maine’s potato production region. A large-scale interdisciplinary potato ecosystem study is underway at the Aroostook Farm. The Rogers Farm is used for work with a variety of field and vegetable crops. Several projects are being conducted on commercial farms.
For more information about graduate research in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Maine and the availability of financial assistance, prospective students should contact faculty members who might supervise their studies. General information about the program can be obtained from:
Dr. Eric Gallandt
Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences
5722 Deering Hall
Orono, ME. 04469-5722
A. Randall Alford, Ph.D. (Louisiana State, 1980), Department of Biological Sciences. Insect chemical ecology, physiological principles for alternative approaches to insect pest management.
Timothy Dalton, Ph.D. (Purdue, 1996), Department of Resource Economics and Policy. Economics and policy, risk and reduced input farming, farming system evolution, technological innovation, international agricultural development.
Darrell Donahue, Ph.D. (North Carolina State, 1992), Department of Biological Engineering. Food process engineering, systems analysis, and risk assessment modeling.
Frank Drummond, Ph.D. (Rhode Island, 1986), Department of Biological Sciences. Blueberry insect pest management, pollination. Susan Erich, Ph.D. (Cornell, 1984), Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Plant-soil interactions, nutrient availability from alternative fertilizer materials.
Eric R. Gallandt, Ph.D. (Wisconsin-Madison, 1994), Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Sustainable agriculture, cropping systems, and weed ecology and management.
Timothy Griffin, Ph.D. (Michigan State, 1991), USDA - ARS. Faculty Associate in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Nutrient cycling, crop rotations, and forage crop production.
Eleanor Groden, Ph.D. (Michigan State, 1989), Department of Biological Sciences. Biological control of insect pests, population ecology, insect pathology.
Mark Hutton, Ph.D. (New Hampshire, 1988), Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Vegetable production, season extension technologies, disease and insect management, vegetable genetics and varietal evaluation.
John Jemison, Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State, 1991). Maine Cooperative Extension; Cooperating Associate Professor in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Water quality, soil nutrient dynamics, nutrient management.
David Lambert, Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State, 1979), Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Physiology, ecology, taxonomy, genetics, and management of plant pathogens.
Tsutomu Ohno, Ph.D. (Cornell, 1983), Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Soil Chemistry, nutrient availability from alternative fertilizer materials.
Gregory Porter, Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State, 1985), Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Potato cropping systems, crop physiology, soil fertility management, weed-crop interactions.
Marianne Sarrantonio, Ph.D. (Cornell, 1987), Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences. Cropping systems, cover crops, nitrogen transformations, organic soil amendments.
Stewart Smith, Ph.D. (Connecticut, 1977), Department of Resource Economics and Policy. Agricultural policy, economics of alternative farming systems, rural community development.
Lois Stack, Ph.D. (Wisconsin-Madison, 1984), Maine Cooperative Extension. Ornamental plant culture, production, and evaluation.