Sustainability as a Driver in New York's Economy

 Gary Kleppel with Torri
Right to left: Gary Kleppel with Torri
Photo by Rob Spring Photography
UAlbany biologist Gary Kleppel is helping New York State control biological invasions while supporting agriculture.

In cooperation with public and private sector partners, Kleppel has developed a protocol that uses livestock for vegetation management. Invasive plants threaten native biodiversity and cause millions of dollars in damage to farm and forest land. Kleppel found that these plants can be targeted for grazing by sheep, reducing the enormous manpower and herbicide costs required to control them.

Access to land is a major barrier to getting started in agriculture. In collaboration with the Depart- ment of Environmental Conservation, Kleppel is developing a program through which beginning farmers will be trained to use his "targeted grazing" protocol and will then be allowed to graze their livestock on designated parcels of state land without charge. The result is that New York State gets free land management, while hundreds of new agricultural jobs are created.

The program is particularly suited to transitioning military veterans interested in agriculture to civilian life by providing training and a framework for generating real income.

In the meantime, Kleppel and his students continue to study the environmental impacts of grazing and to seek new ways to improve environ- mental quality while generating food and fiber.