Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Programs
During 2018 the Division provided technical review and support for the five (5) CCE programs listed below. These purposes of these programs range from keeping the County in compliance with Federal and State stormwater runoff regulations to shellfish restoration to various agricultural programs that will help to protect our environment while retaining the economic benefits of the agricultural industry of Suffolk County.
- US EPA Stormwater Phase II Implementation
- Restoration of Peconic Bay Scallops
- Alternative Management Strategies for Control of Insect Pests in Suffolk County Agriculture and Landscapes
- Integrated Pest Management Program
- Development and Implementation of an Agricultural Stewardship Program
Kelp Feasibility Study
The Division is actively support a “kelp” feasibility study. Seaweed (kelp) aquaculture is an emerging “green industry” that offers considerable environmental and economic benefits to the region. This project aims to evaluate the potential of this new industry in Suffolk County to improve water quality via bioextraction of water column nitrogen and carbon, while producing a high-demand, renewable product. The techniques and methodology needed to be successful in this initiative have been developed and will be refined, adapted and implemented by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) scientists at several sites within the Peconic Estuary in consultation with scientists at the University of Connecticut.
Seaweed aquaculture is a unique green industry in that it is actually restorative to the marine environment making it a sustainable practice. Growth and harvest of seaweeds leads to the direct removal of excess dissolved nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) and carbon from local waters, helping to reverse the impacts of eutrophication and excess carbon emissions. Nitrogen specifically, is a pollutant of significant concern in the waters of Suffolk County, and this project can lead to large scale removal of this POC from our local waters. Research conducted in Long Island Sound by the University of Connecticut found kelp aquaculture has the potential to extract up to 100 kg of nitrogen per hectare over the six month growing period (December-May). Other published research has found that seaweed cultivation has the potential to take up carbon dioxide at a rate approaching 10 tons/hectare/year.
Recent work in Long Island Sound has demonstrated that seaweeds can be grown to produce a viable commodity used for food, pharmaceuticals, soil amendments and/or biofuels, while sequestering nitrogen and carbon from the water column. This project represents the first step in developing a new commodity for New York’s legacy industry of aquaculture to expand, providing a reliable “crop” for current and future marine farmers to grow in and harvest from Suffolk County waters. Once established, this sustainable seaweed aquaculture industry could play an important role in our marine environment by removing excess nutrients, especially dissolved nitrogen, while creating new sustainable green jobs.
Nitrogen Fertilizer Reduction Initiative
As part of Local Law 41-2007 all renewals, or new applicants for a Suffolk County Home Improvement Contractors License, who apply fertilizer, must take a Suffolk County approved turf management class. By the end of 2018 a total of 46 classes had been offered and more than 1,800 certificates had been issued. As part of the course landscapers learn about the prohibition dates on fertilizer application, the environmental consequences of nitrogen runoff, alternatives to turfgrass such as native plantings, proper use and application techniques of fertilizer, and information on soils.
Signs and brochures have been sent out to all county retail locations that sell fertilizer informing the public of the prohibition dates for fertilizer use, how to manage their lawns properly with less fertilizer, why nitrogen pollution is detrimental to our water resources, and when is the best time to apply fertilizer. A self-teaching CD, developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County (CCE), to educate owners and employees of fertilizer retail locations was also sent out to all retailers. This information can be disseminated to customers inquiring about the program. Suffolk County has been working with retail locations to replenish brochures and replace lost or misplaced signs.
This program received a 2010 National Association of Counties (NACo) Award which recognizes unique and innovative county programs nationwide. The Division made a presentation about the fertilizer reduction initiative including such topics as: the law, landscaper education classes, and the turf module developed by Cornell University (CU) at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Long Island Groundwater Research Institute held at Suffolk County Water Authority.