Northwest Crops and Soils Program : University of Vermont

University of Vermont

UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team


Dr. Heather Darby:

heather3Heather Darby is an Agronomist for UVM Extension.  Heather has been developing the Northwest Crops and Soils Program since she came to UVM 9 years ago and provides leadership to the team.  Heather’s passion for sustainable agriculture and the enthusiasm she receives from Vermont’s farmers and professionals have fueled the expansion of her program, which covers the state of Vermont, and brings her around New England, across the country, and beyond to places like the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Brazil and Washington DC.  Her goal is to provide sound research based agronomic information for the farmers of Vermont. Her varied interests and the enthusiasm lead her to work with a variety of agronomic crops including forages and specialty crops.


Katie Blair:

This is Katie Blair‘s second summer with the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team. A recent graduate from Northeastern Clinton Central School, Katie is looking forward to attending Clinton Community College and pursuing a degree in Elementary Education in the fall of 2012. She has enjoyed her time with UVM Extension and has brought a great work ethic and attention to detail while learning about agronomy. Katie has taken a special interest in barley grain production as well as using small grains as a high-quality forage.



Susan Brouillette:

Susan Brouillette was recently hired as the new Northwest Crops and Soils Program Manager, which is a new position to the team. Susan is in her 25th year of employment at the University with 16 of them being with the St. Albans UVM Extension Office. Susan is also very familiar with agriculture, having grown up on a dairy farm and currently co-owning her husband’s family dairy farm in Franklin County. Susan looks forward to working with the Northwest Crops and Soils team in their many activities including field days, workshop events and grants.

dotted-line-largeConner Burke:

Vermont native Conner Burke joined our team in 2012, after graduating from UVM with a degree in wildlife biology. His research skills have benefited the Crops & Soils Program in many ways, and he has shown interest in forage quality, soil health, and crop production. Conner collects data in the field, works in the lab, analyzes statistics, and presents research results. He took an active role in this year’s pilot program working with farmers on aerial cover cropping by helicopter. We are excited to have Conner as part of the team.


Lily Calderwood:

Lily Calderwood is a Plant and Soil Science graduate student under the guidance of Dr. Heather Darby. She comes to the team with an ecology background, a passion for sustainable agriculture and an interest in farmers’ needs. Lily assists on several of the team’s ongoing projects. Her research focuses on the hop intercropping study aimed at assessing insect diversity and abundance in hops. The goal of this project is to formulate integrated pest management (IPM) and conservation biological control protocol for Northeastern hop production.


Erica Cummings:

Erica Cummings is a small grains enthusiast whose work at Extension is focused on weed management in small grains through integrated pest management and enhancing t he capacity of regional farmers to produce high quality organic bread wheat. She has helped develop the NW Crops and Soils Team Lab and to equip it with high tech equipment to test flour for baking quality. The research she is involved in looks at grain quality, cultivar resources, weed management in organic cereals, disease management and fertility of organic bread wheat and harvest management for quality wheat. She has worked for UVM Extension for five years and comes to us from the UVM Agriculture Testing Lab.


Amanda Gervais:

amanda2Amanda Gervais is a player on the UVM Extension’s NW Crops and Soils Team. Current projects you can ask her about are Designing a Sustainable Corn Silage Cropping System for Vermont, a USDA-CIG project (US Dept of Agriculture Conservation Innovation Grant), and Reducing Fuel and Fertilizer Costs for Corn Silage in the Northeast with Cover Crops, a SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) project. Amanda has worked for Extension for 6 years focusing on water quality and nutrient management.


Hannah Harwood:

Hannah Harwood is a member of the Crops and Soils Team who is involved with a number of ongoing projects. She primarily works on oilseed research and outreach, coordinating and collecting data for the National Sunflower Survey and Winter Canola Variety Trials each year, as well as helping with research and on-farm studies. She is working on pest management and agronomic practices for sunflower and canola, while helping the team with countless other activities. Hannah studied Gender and the Environment in college and worked with rural Maine farmwomen on her self-designed independent study. She joined the team in 2011 and is excited about good, local food, agricultural communities, and providing meaningful assistance to farmers in Vermont.


Debra Heleba:

dheleba_fixDebra Heleba coordinates the organic dairy team for eOrganic, a national project that provides on-line education on certified organic agriculture. In addition, Deb is the Vermont state SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) coordinator where she provides sustainable agriculture professional development for agricultural service providers as well as helping Vermonters learn about NE-SARE, a USDA competitive grants program. Currently, she is working with a northern New England team to help Extension and other educators learn more about local grains production and farm energy alternatives. She has worked on a variety of Extension programs over the past 18 years, including the Women’s Agricultural Network, Farm Transfer Network of New England, and the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture.


Scott Lewins:

Scott Lewins, an entomologist teaching at Saint Michael’s College and UVM, has recently brought his knowledge of insects to the NW Crops and Soils Program. He has been conducting applied agricultural research on farms throughout Vermont since he moved here in 2006. In the past, his research has focused on biological control of agricultural pests through enhancing native natural enemy communities, and his areas of expertise include entomology, biological control, insect agroecology, and sustainable agriculture.



Susan Monahan:

susanSusan Monahan joined the Crops and Soils Team in 2010 after finishing her masters in Plant and Soil Science at UVM. Susan is passionate about sustainable agriculture and local food, fiber, and fuel production. She is excited to be a part of the NW Crops and Soils team and help out with the great projects providing information for Vermont farmers. Her focus is on heirloom grains, nutrient management, and forages, and she has been working on-farm and in the lab on milk and forage quality.


Jeff Sanders:

Jeff Sanders works for the University of Vermont’s Agronomy and Conservation Assistance Program, helping to foster best management practices on dairy farms and improve water quality. Jeff brings to the Crops & Soils program years of experience as an agricultural service provider and dairy farm manager. His expertise is in reduced tillage systems, cover cropping practices, soil health, and interseeding, and he provides on-farm technical assistance to farmers statewide.


Borderview Research Farm:

Borderview Research Farm is a private facility located on the Canadian border in Alburgh, VT.  Roger and Claire Rainville own and operate the 235-acre farm which, aside from over 2,000 research plots, is also a dairy replacement operation and biofuel facility.  The Rainvilles milked cows here for 26 years before they diversified into these current ventures.

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