Vermont Research News: Energy costs, milkweed jackets, healthy apples and more…


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VERMONT RESEARCH NEWS: Energy costs, milkweed jackets,  healthy apples and more…

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Vermont Research News:

Energy Costs, Milkweed Jackets, Healthy Apples and More…

October 4th, 2017

Center for Research on Vermont


Transportation costs make up the largest portion of energy spending, according to a recent report from Efficiency Vermont. Thermal and electricity spending also constituted a significant amount of the total energy cost. In parts of Rutland and St. Albans, the combined average electricity and thermal burdens were estimated to be over 12 percent of median income, suggesting that a notable number of Vermont households live in fuel poverty.


Organic disease management is a pervasive problem in Vermont apple cultivation. UVM researcher Ann Hazelrigg studied the impacts of different fungicides on apple production, using two sulfur-based systems and two biostimulant systems. Ultimately, the biostimulant system was found to inadequately manage the disease—and the sulfur-based system led to higher estimated gross income from the healthy apples.


Vermont’s state liability system has been ranked 2nd this year in the lawsuit climate survey conducted by Harris Poll for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. The study sought to explore how fair and reasonable the states’ liability systems are perceived to be by businesses.

Compared to the national technical efficiency in the public sector, Vermont’s efficiency is fairly low. A recent study evaluated all fifty states’ GSP and the public expenditures that comprise itincluding education, health and welfare spending. Technical efficiency refers to a state’s ability to effectively utilize its resources to produce the desired services. The mean national technical efficiency from 1992-2012 was relatively high, at 0.878—comparatively, Vermont’s technical efficiency was 0.802. The lowest mean efficiency was that of West Virginia, at 0.748.

Vermont came in first in the key element categories of scientific and technical evidence and judges’ impartiality.


Fall foliage season is underway and the experts at Vermont Yankee Magazine predict a strong season. According to the Farmers’ Almanac peak leaf foliage in northern Vermont began on September 24th and will last until October 10th. In southern Vermont, the peak will be from October 5th to the 14th. Enjoy the sunny days, as the Almanac says that Vermont is one of the cloudiest states in the countryAnd the Almanac is predicting a snowy and wild winter for the Northeast. For leaves changing see also the interactive map at foliage Vermont.


When most Vermont farmers hear the word “milkweed,” they usually think of a pesky weed rather than a cash crop. But a handful of Canadian outerwear companies have transformed this image, using the plant pod’s flossy fibers as insulation for parkas and forecasting a yield of roughly $800 per acre this season. There are now around 2,000 acres of milkweed growing in Vermont and Quebec, and agronomist Heather Darby is working toward raising that number—she offers farmers a five-step plan for how to deal with milkweed.

The Fleming Museum is displaying a number of Herbert Barnett’s paintings of Vermont landscapes in a new exhibit from September through January. The exhibit, entitled Herbert Barnett: Vermont Life and Landscape, 1940-1948, features specific Vermont scenes as well as aspects of daily farm life, depicted in a variety of media. 


Livestock manure can typically only be applied to an annual crop—like corn— during relatively short windows of time, usually in the fall after harvest or in the spring before planting. However, a new study suggests that direct incorporation of liquid dairy manure during sidedress time can be effective to meet the crop’s nitrogen needs while reducing the potential for nitrate leaching.


Vermont is losing 1,500 acres of forest and the entirety of New England is losing almost 24,000 acres each year, according to a recent report by researchers at Harvard and UVM. The study identified multiple threats to the forest acreage, including residential and commercial development and declines in state and federal land-protection funding.


The Vermont Non-GMO Cookbook by Tracey Medieros, published on October 3rd, honors the state’s dedication to supporting local organic food movements, farms, and farmers. The book also serves as a guide to eating non-GMO in Vermont. See the article in the Brattleboro Reformer for more details.

Vermont’s environmental history and its complex relationship with politics and money is chronicled in a new book, Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State. Authors Elizabeth Courtney and Eric Zencey highlight activist movements and incorporate interviews with high-profile Vermont figures, urging readers to view the book as a call to action—to shift economic and energy resources and achieve a healthy environment.