UConn Extension and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources are pleased to announce that Dr. Shuresh Ghimire joined us on July 6thas our Extension Vegetable Educator.
Dr. Ghimire has a PhD in Horticulture and is based in the Extension office at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon. He was working at Washington State University (WSU), studying crop yields and quality with biodegradable plastic mulch for pumpkin and sweet corn production before he joined UConn. He has also done work on the effects of organic manures and urea on peppers.
Prior to working in Washington, Shuresh was a Horticultural Development Officer for the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agricultural Development in his native Nepal. He worked extensively with farmers conducting trainings and plant clinics and created extension publications and reports. Dr. Ghimire also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Horticulture at the Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.
Shuresh sat down with us to share his past experiences and goals for the position.
I was raised in a farming family. From my childhood, I had opportunities to taste varieties of home grown fresh and colorful vegetables. Three main reasons that continued my interest in the vegetable sector are:
- good source of income for small- to large-scale growers;
- nutritional benefits – vegetables carry lots of nutrition but fewer calories; and
- health benefits from exercise growing vegetables.
My research was with biodegradable plastic mulch. I’ve learned that some biodegradable plastic mulches provide weed control, crop yield and quality benefits comparable
to polyethylene mulch. One interesting thing about biodegradable plastic mulch is that it can be manufactured using petroleum, bio-based ingredients, or a blend of both. And, greater bio-based content of the mulch doesn’t make it more biodegradable.
Another interesting thing I learned was some biodegradable mulches adhere to the surface of fruits where the fruit rest on the mulch, such as pumpkin and watermelon. Mulch adhesion can reduce the marketability of the produce.
During my time in Washington, I had the privilege of working in a great team where a few people have had the greatest influence on me. Dr. Carol Miles, the major advisor of my PhD program, and a technician and co-worker, Ed Scheenstra, at WSU Mount Vernon Research Center trained me to remain positive and calm even in hard times and keep a can-do attitude. Now I am excited to be a part of the UConn Extension team, and look forward to working with Connecticut vegetable growers, and other vegetable and IPM specialists from the state and regionally.
The most rewarding part about Extension for me is working with farmers in their fields, getting my hands dirty, and eventually helping them increase their farm profits, and making the farms more viable. I believe an agricultural research investment is worth nothing until and unless outcomes of the research are extended to and adopted by end users, farmers or stakeholders. Extension translates complex research-based results into a farmer friendly version, and also brings farmers’ problems forward for scientific investigation.
My top priorities in the first few years are:
- appraise farmers’ problems and needs for the Extension program;
- quickly respond to vegetable growers’ questions; and
- work with my UConn Extension team to establish a multi-disciplinary program.