Past Projects


Oilseed Crops and Value Chains in Partnership with Organic Valley

Collaboration with: Organic Valley
Investigators: Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem Management Program); Mike Lilburn (Department of Animal Science); Yebo Li (Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering)

About: Oilseed crops have the potential to add complexity to crop rotations, provide valuable ecosystem services, and deliver additional value chains in the form of on-farm biodiesel, cooking oil, and highly nutritious feed for animals. Four oilseed crops were planted in one-acre plots at The Mellinger Farm and were evaluated in terms of their growth characteristics, yield, and ecosystem services, including floral resources for pollinators, bio-control services and soil conditioning. Learn more.


Reducing Injury to Fruit and Vegetable Crops Caused by Drift or Volatility of Herbicides applied to Row Crops

Collaboration with: the Departments of EntomologyPlant PathologyAgricultural, Environmental and Development Economics; and Horticulture and Crop Science
Investigators: Doug Doohan (Horticulture and Crop Science); Mark Bennett (Horticulture and Crop Science); Imed Dami(Horticulture and Crop Science); Roger Downer (Horticulture and Crop Science); Matt Kleinhenz (Horticulture and Crop Science); Mark Loux (Horticulture and Crop Science); Jason Parker (Horticulture and Crop Science); Michael Ellis (Plant Pathology); Sally Miller (Plant Pathology); Casey Hoy (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program); Stanley Ernst (Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics)

About: Environmental disease induced by off-target movement of herbicides is a critically important emerging threat to the specialty crop industry. This project brings together diverse stakeholders at an interdisciplinary symposium and workshop on the subject. This will ultimately lead to a Coordinated Agricultural Project proposal of national scope to address the threat of herbicide induced environmental disease using a systems approach. Learn more.


Increasing the Services of Soil Invertebrates in Agroecosystems

Collaboration with: the Department of Entomology
Investigators: Casey Hoy (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program); Parwinder Grewal (Entomology); Harit Bal (Entomology); Nuris Acosta; Janet Lawrence; Ganpati Jagdale, Zhiqang Cheng; Jung Joon Park

About: This research examined how farmers could use soil management techniques to increase the efficacy of beneficial nematodes (microscopic worms) that attack harmful insects in soils. Conventional and alternative soil management systems were established in field plots and the survival and establishment of the beneficial nematodes was measured over time. 

Hoy, C.W., Grewal, P.S., Lawrence, J.L., Jagdale, G., Acosta, N., 2008. Canonical correspondence analysis demonstrates unique soil conditions for entomopathogenic nematode species compared with other free-living nematode species. Biological Control 46, 371e379

Lawrence, J.L., Hoy, C.W., Grewal, P.S., 2006. Spatial and temporal distribution of endemic entomopathogenic nematodes in a heterogeneous vegetable production landscape. Biological Control 37, 247–255.

Raquel Campos–Herrera, Mary Barbercheck, Casey W. Hoy, S. Patricia Stock. 2012. Entomopathogenic nematodes as a model system for advancing the frontiers of ecology.  Journal of Nematology.  44:162-176.

Jung-Joon Park, Ganpati B. Jagdale, Kijong Cho, Parwinder S. Grewal, Casey W. Hoy.  2014.  Spatial association between entomopathogenic and other free-living nematodes and the influence of habitat.  Applied Soil Ecology.  76: 1-6.

Molecular and Behavioral Dimensions of Indirect Selection to Reduce Insecticide Use and Prevent Insecticide Resistance

Collaboration with: the Department of Entomology
Investigators: Mustapha Jallow (Entomology); Casey Hoy (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program), Omprakash Mittapalli (Entmology); Andrew Michel (Entomology); Marianne Anita Bautista (Entomology)

About: This project explored the behavioral responses of insect pests to insecticides, and its genetic correlation with physiological tolerance to these toxins.  Our usual approach in crop protection is to try to create high and uniform doses of insecticides, or insecticidal compounds produced by resistant varieties. A typical response in insect populations is very high levels of physiological resistance.  But in nature, protective compounds in and on plants are typically found at low and highly variable concentrations, at any spatial scale from within a leaf to across a continent.  We have demonstrated that behavioral responsiveness to insecticides, when encountered in low and variable concentrations, can increase susceptibility in insect populations.  This project, therefore, seeks the biological understanding from molecular to population levels to use insecticides in ways that better mimic what we find in nature, with more sustainable effects, and with much lower amounts required to protect crops. Learn more.

Jallow, M. and C. W. Hoy.  2006.  Quantitative genetics of adult behavioral response and larval physiological tolerance to permethrin in diamondback moth Plutella xylostella(Lepidoptera: Pluutellidae)  J. Econ. Entomol.  99(4):  1388-1395.

Jallow, M. and C. W. Hoy.  2007.  Indirect Selection for Increased Susceptibility to Permethrin in Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella) (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae).  J. Econ. Entomol.  100: 526-533.

Marianne Anita Bautista, Omprikash Mittapalli, Casey W. Hoy, Andrew P. Michel.  Single nucleotide polymorphism discovery in the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.) Molecular Ecology Resources.  In Press.


Landscape Scale Disturbances in an Agroecosystem: Impacts on Aquatic and Riparian Environments in the Sugar Creek Watershed, Ohio

Collaboration with: the School of Environment and Natural Resourcesthe Department of EntomologyOrganic Food and Farming Education and Research; and Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership
Investigators: Lance Williams; Virginie Bouchard (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Patrick Goebel (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Richard Moore (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Deborah Stinner (Organic Food and Farming Education and Research)

About: Small (headwater) streams represent approximately 80% of a watershed and have been identified as critical components in efforts to reduce environmental pollution to downstream areas (e.g., Gulf of Mexico). The purpose of this study was to understand how agricultural land use affects water quality in headwater streams. The hypothesis was that management of agricultural ecosystems that integrate values of local communities with scientific knowledge would be the most effective method of restoring water quality in watersheds while maintaining productivity of farming and economic viability of local communities. Learn more.


Biological Buffering and Pest Management: The Central Role of Organic Matter

Collaboration with: Organic Food and Farming Education and Research, as well as the Department of  Entomology and the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
Investigators: Deborah Stinner (Organic Food and Farming Education and Research); Larry Phelan (Entomology); Phil Rzewnicki (OSU On-Farm Research Coordinator); Benjamin Stinner (Agroecosystem Management Program)

About: Many organic and transitional organic farmers struggle with production limitations owing to various inadequate or inefficient management factors, including pest and organic fertility management. The purpose of this project was to provide information that would assist organic and transitional organic farmers with strategies to optimize management of organic matter, soil fertility, pests and crop health. 


Carbon Sequestration in Organic Agricultural Systems

Collaboration with: Organic Food and Farming Education and Research
Investigators: Deborah Stinner (Organic Food and Farming Education and Research); Patrick Hatcher (Chemistry); Ben Stinner (Agroecosystem Management Program)

About: Agricultural soils may help decrease the threat of global warming by sequestering carbon in soil organic matter. There is some evidence that organic farming may store more carbon than conventional management. However, organic agriculture has received very little scientific study in the U. S. The goal of this project was to assess carbon sequestration and carbon and nitrogen cycling in organic agricultural ecosystems and to evaluate implications on a landscape scale.



Linking Soil Quality, Plant Health and Animal Nutrition on Dairy Farms through Energy and Nitrogen Balance

Collaboration with: the Departments of Entomology and Animal Sciences at OSU as well as the Innovative Farmers of Ohio, Newcomer Consulting and 26 Ohio Dairy Farmers
Investigators: Dave McCartney (Entomology); Stuart Newcomer (Newcomer Consulting); Ben Stinner (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program); Scott Stoller (Dairy Farmer, Wayne County, Ohio); Bill Weiss (Animal Sciences)

About: The goal of this project was to build upon farmers’ observations that healthy soil grows healthy plants, which in turn grow healthy animals. For years, dairy farmers have known that, “in the soil and rumen, microbes eat first.” Biologically-minded farmers maintain the health of their crops and cows by “feeding the soil and rumen bugs” (microbes) using good organic matter management. Since microbes require carbon for energy and nitrogen to build protein, the balance of organic matter carbon and nitrogen is very important. Health and productivity of the soil, plant and ruminant animal increase when carbon and nitrogen are in balance because metabolism and production are closely linked. Thus, organic matter can be managed for nutrient content to promote microbial efficiency.  In a two-year study of 22 grazing and confinement dairy farms in northeast Ohio, we investigated carbon and nitrogen balance in soil, plants and animals. Learn more.



Catalyzing Northeast Ohio’s Agricultural & Bioscience Industry Cluster

Collaboration with: the Fund for our Economic Future
Investigator: Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem Management Program)

About: This multi-stage project will help revitalize rural areas in the region and reconnect them with the urban and suburban cores by building local food and agricultural bioscience-based economies. The project will assess the region’s biotech resources to expose the best opportunities, while engaging the region’s leaders and entrepreneurs to turn those opportunities into a reality. The collaboration platform was enhanced through this project – and will serve as a powerful tool for carrying the project goals forward. Learn more here and here.


Social Networking, Market and Commercialization Infrastructure for Midwestern Fruit and Vegetable Crops in Local Food Systems

Collaboration with: Michigan State University, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and John Deere
Investigators: Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem Management Program); Stanley Ernst (Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics)

About: The proliferation of interdependent local food systems within regional areas constitutes a powerful, transformative force within the U.S. economy. The resurgence of these systems is in direct response to concerns about food security and safety, climate change, and unfettered globalization. Such interconnected local food systems provide specialty crop growers, packers, processors, distributors and retailers with excellent opportunities to expand markets, commercialize technological advances, and prompt business growth. However, considerable networking and collaboration skills will be required within and among individuals and groups if these “webbed” local food systems are to evolve and achieve their full potential. In this project, we focus on strengthening networking capacity and honing collaborative skills to prompt market expansion, technology commercialization, and business growth through local food systems that produce and deliver specialty crops in the Midwest. Our goal is to link these distributed local food systems into a robust, interstate, regional network that shares experience and learning, expedites the adoption of new technology and practices, and coordinates planning of entire food supply chains, rather than individual businesses in isolation.  The website developed during the project,, remains available as a resource to build local economies rooted in agriculture. Learn more.


Catalyzing Farm to Institutional Food Service Specialty Crop Sales

Collaboration with: OSU Extension and the University of Dayton
Investigators: Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem Management Program); Megan Shoenfelt (Agroecosystem Management Program); Daniel Frobose (OSU Extension)

About: This project was designed to help specialty crop farmers and institutions in Ohio improve their prospects for doing business together.  Results from a detailed survey of institutional food service providers, primarily focused on many private and public institutions of higher education within Ohio, were used to prepare a guide for farmers and institutional buyers entitled “Ohio’s Specialty Crops, a boost to food service menus”. Check out the guide


Identifying Stakeholder Needs for Establishing Urban Specialty Crops Enterprise

Collaboration with: the Urban Landscape Ecology Program (OSU)
Investigators: Parwinder Grewal (Entomology and Urban Landscape Ecology Program); John Cardina (Horticulture and Crop Science); Mark Erbaugh; Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem Management Program); Matt Kleinhenz (Horticulture and Crop Science); Peter Ling (Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering)

About: This project sought to expand stakeholder involvement in efforts to facilitate and enhance specialty crop production (fresh vegetables and fruits) in poverty stricken urban areas. The long term goal was to address the needs, characteristics, and potential of vibrant urban specialty crops enterprises and demonstrate their benefits to revitalization of poverty stricken neighborhoods. This was achieved by surveying stakeholders, organizing a stakeholder conference to identify critical needs, and establishing teams of researchers and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive specialty crops project. Learn more.


Impact of Economics-driven Land-use Decisions on Watershed Health

Collaboration with: the School of Environment and Natural Resources; the Department of EntomologyOrganic Food and Farming Education and Research; and Agricultural Communication, Education and Leadership
Investigators: Ben Stinner (Agroecosystem Management Program and Entomology); Patrick Goebel (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Richard Moore (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Deborah Stinner (Organic Food and Farming Education and Research); Robin Taylor

About: Efforts to restore ecological function to agricultural landscapes will be successful only if they include both the human and biophysical dimensions of these systems. The objectives of this research planning grant were: (1) to benchmark the social, physical, and ecological features of the headwater tributaries that most directly relate to understanding the linkages between managed terrestrial and aquatic systems; (2) to create increased awareness of watershed ecology, and motivate farmers to use, and others to encourage the use of agricultural practices that improve water quality, and (3) to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function on a tributary by tributary basis of whole landscapes including both agricultural and non-agricultural areas.



The National Science Foundation, Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program Linking Watershed Research and GK-12 Education within an Ecosystem Context

Collaboration with: the School of Environment and Natural Resources; the Urban Landscape Ecology Program; Agricultural Communication, Education and LeadershipOrganic Food and Farming Education and Research Program; and the Department of Entomology
Investigators: Richard Moore (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Patrick Goebel (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Parwinder Grewal (Entomology); Casey Hoy (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program); Amanda Rodewald (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Deborah Stinner (Organic Food and Farming Education and Research)

About: The GK-12 project engages STEM graduate fellows, along with collaborating faculty and resource professionals, and students and teachers (from grades 3-5, 6-8, 10-12) including those from Amish schools, in research and education on watershed science. The project builds on existing interdisciplinary research on the Sugar Creek Watershed in North East Ohio. The intellectual merit includes the exploration of watershed science as a model system for incorporating multiple disciplines into a holistic, constructivist, systemic educational approach – and to create a cooperative learning opportunity involving university researchers and K-12 teachers and students. Visit the website.


Social Network Analysis using

Learn more here.


Expanding Local Participation in Conservation Programs: Examining Factors Affecting Conservation Adoption among Old Order Amish in the Sugar Creek Watershed

Collaboration with: the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program and the School of Environment and Natural Resources
Master’s thesis research by Jason Parker (Richard Moore, Advisor)

About: Jason Parker’s master’s work examined on the relationships between land tenure and farmer attitudes regarding the adoption of conservation practices among Old Order Amish in the South Fork of the Sugar Creek Watershed in southern Holmes County. This information is intended to help policymakers, researchers, and agency personnel gain a better understanding of relationships between land tenure and other local knowledge and allow direct input from farmers regarding their perceptions and needs. The project is an important component of the larger Sugar Creek Project with a participatory community research and development focus. Learn more.


Agriculture and the Arts: a Model Project with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Clark County, Ohio

Collaboration with: OSU ExtensionWestwater Arts, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Investigator: Dennis Hall (Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center)

About: Three photochoreographic presentations celebrating sustainable agriculture were created and performed by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra for children and adult concerts, November 18-20, 2005. The project involved collaboration of farmers, photographers, and organizations at local and state levels. Benefits of the concert include a heightened awareness of sustainable farming and farm life and a successful outreach initiative by the Symphony. A DVD portraying farm life is in production for use by field offices of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. As a pilot effort, lessons learned and recommendations will be shared with other communities. Learn more

Landscape Analysis, Integration and Case Studies

Visualizing and Quantifying a Normative Scenario for Northeast Ohio

Collaboration with: the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program, Agroecosystem Science
Master’s thesis research by Liz Kolbe (Casey Hoy, Advisor)

About: The visualization and quantification of a normative scenario for agriculture in northeast Ohio was the central focus of Liz Kolbe’s Master’s work in the Hoy lab. In collaboration with local farmers and faculty from the Knowlton School of Architecture and the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, 3 farms were designed and quantified to serve as a normative scenario (or what should and possible could be) for local food production in Northeast Ohio. Mellinger Farm was used as a canvas for the designs. Learn more.


Borrowed Ground: Evaluating the Potential Role of Usufruct in Neighborhood-Scale Foodsheds

Collaboration with: the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program, Agroecosystem Science
Master’s thesis research by Ben Kerrick (Casey Hoy, Advisor)

About: Borrowed Ground was spearheaded by Ben Kerrick for his Master’s thesis in Environmental Science with a specialization in Agroecosystem Science. Leveraging his dual degree in City & Regional Planning in OSU’s Knowlton School of Architecture, his background in matching artists with temporary use of vacant space in New York City, and local food systems knowledge, Ben’s work investigates the potential contribution of public and private vacant space to food production and garden access in cities. Learn more.


Acoustically Monitoring the Rhythms of Biodiversity in Agroecosystems

Investigator: Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem management program)

About: Conserving biodiversity is one of the greater global environmental challenges of our time. Protecting the planet’s wide variety of living things ensures that ecosystems function smoothly to provide energy, renewable materials, clean water and air, and food. In agriculture, biodiversity is evident in the many varieties of plants and animals used as food throughout the world. More importantly, it includes the many and varied organisms that allow carbon, water, and nitrogen cycles to operate. However, biodiversity is difficult to measure because of the scope needed to include every living thing in a particular place, from the smallest microbes to the largest animals. This project was based on the idea that when there is high biodiversity, one should be able to hear it, because animals make a wide variety of sounds. The purpose of this project was to evaluate equipment for recording sounds in agricultural ecosystems over time and test how researchers can use those recordings to measure biodiversity efficiently and continuously. Read the OARDC article (current learn more link) or listen to the recordings.


Monitoring Agroecosystem Biodiversity Using Bioacoustics and Remote Recording Units

Collaboration with: the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program
Master’s thesis research by Claire Paisley Jones (Casey Hoy, Advisor)

About: The objective of Claire’s Master’s research was to develop an index to measure diversity in agricultural soundscapes, and to compare the index with other measures of biodiversity in these systems.  The Modified Acoustic Entropy Index (H’) meaures the level of niche utilization of the acoustic soundscape, which is hypothesized to relate to the number of species and individuals present in a location. The resulting H’ values can then be used to compare soundscape patterns and acoustic diversity levels over time and between locations in remote recordings.


Exploring the Link between Integrated Pest Management and Agroecosystem Management

Investigators: Casey Hoy, James McCully, José Laborde, Andrés Vargas-López, Rafael Bujanos-Muñiz and Eduardo Rangel

About: Integrated pest management tactics are associated with and can be used simultaneously at various spatial and temporal scales. Integrating pest management tactics requires careful matching of tactics with their most relevant spatial scales, rather than forcing all tactics to be relevant at a single scale, such as an individual field for a single cropping cycle. A case study is provided of the evolution of control tactics from a focus on individual fields with a short time horizon, to improved pest management throughout a region. The case study is of diamondback moth control in the Bajío region of México, a serious enough challenge to force cooperation at regional scales and cause the shift in tactics described. Although diamondback moth populations have increased and the pattern of population fluctuations has changed between 1988 and 2004, management of individual fields can still minimize pest damage through careful use of available control measures. The greater potential for improving control of diamondback moth, however, appears to be changing the agroecosystem itself at larger spatial and temporal scales, perhaps by production and processing of additional crops in the region.

Hoy, C. W. , J. E. McCully, J. Laborde, A. Vargas, R. Bujanos, E. Rangel.  2007.  The linkage between integrated pest management and agroecosystem management:  a case study in the Bajío, México.  American Entomologist.  53:  174-183.


Agritourism Sustainability Model: A Case Study in Northeast Ohio

Investigators: Marcelo Goyzueta (Agroecosystem Management Program); Nathan Hilbert (Agroecosystem Management Program); Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem Management Program)

About: Visiting international scholar Marcelo Goyzueta used Geographic Information Systems (GIS)  to determine locations with potential for the establishment of agritourism business in NE Ohio. Social, environmental and infrastructure variables were considered to rank areas with respect to agritourism potential. View the maps here and here.


Agroecosystem Health Initiative

Collaboration with: the Departments of EntomologyHorticulture and Crop SciencesAnthropologyAgricultural Environmental and Development Economics; and Human and Community Resource Development
Investigators: Krishna Vadrevu (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program); John Cardina (Horticulture and Crop Sciences); Fred Hitzhusen (Agricultural Environmental and Development Economics); Isaac Bayoh (Agricultural Environmental and Development Economics); Richard Moore (School of Environment and Natural Resources); Jason Parker (Anthropology); Deb Stinner (Entomology); Ben Stinner (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program); Casey Hoy (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program)

About: An interdisciplinary team designed a method for quantifying agroecosystem health as a combination of soil health, biodiversity, topography, farm economics, land economics and social organization.  The resulting index can be mapped and used to compare locations or to examine changes over time in agroecosystem health at landscape scales.

Vadrevu KP, Cardina J, Hitzhusen F, Bayoh I, Moore R, Parker J, Stinner B, Stinner D, Hoy C (2008) Case study of an integrated framework for quantifying agroecosystem health. Ecosystems 11:283–306


Linking Airborne Measurements of CO2 with Terrestrial Sources of Carbon over Heterogeneous Landscapes

Collaboration with: NASA
Investigator: Krishna Vadrevu (Entomology and Agroecosystem Management Program)

About: Terrestrial ecosystems are major sources and sinks of carbon. Quantifying their role in the continental carbon budget requires an understanding of both fast (hours to days) and longer-term fluxes (years to decades). Regional-scale in-situ measurements of atmospheric CO2 were made over the conterminous U.S. affording the opportunity to explore how land surface heterogeneity relates to the airborne observations utilizing remote-sensing data products and GIS-based methods. Learn more here and here.


Case Study: the Sugar Creek Watershed

Collaboration with: the School of Environment and Natural Resourcesthe Environmental Sciences Graduate ProgramOrganic Food and Farming Education and ResearchAgricultural Communication, Education and Leadership; the Urban Landscape Ecology Program; and the Department of Entomology


About: Several projects have addressed the economic, ecological and social realities that affect the health of the Sugar Creek Watershed in Northeast Ohio. These include: