Project Participants

Tech Adoption & Outreach Group

Extension Aide I, Site Admin

Damian Dodd

Damian Dodd is an Extension Aide and comes to SCRI’s “Efficient Vineyard” as a media specialist responsible for generating video and social media content of research conducted as part of the grant. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining this website to display that content.

Damian hails from Maryland but currently resides in Westfield, New York with his wife and daughter. He has a BS in Business from Towson State University and also attended the Portfolio Center (an advertising trade school) in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the past 23 years Damian has worked as an Art and Creative Director for various advertising agencies ranging from 6,500 employees to freelancing on his own. Damian is most excited about engrossing himself in learning about viticulture and “geeking-out” regarding the technology involved, especially as pertains to the USDA SCRI grant. He looks forward to informing the public in a way that is entertaining and educational.

Associate CE Specialist

Matthew Fidelibus

Matthew Fidelibus’s laboratory conducts applied and basic research on grapes for raisin, table, and wine. Broad goals are to develop or refine cultural practices that: reduce production cost, improve yields and quality, or all of these. In raisin systems he is most interested in the effects of different canopy management systems on vine physiology and on raisin drying. In table grapes, his current focus is refining nitrogen fertilizer recommendations. Presently, his wine grape work includes evaluations of newly introduced wine grape cultivars with good potential for warm climate regions. In this SCRI project, he is helping to extend research findings and technological developments to table grape growers.

Program Aide II

Kim Knappenberger

Kim Knappenberger is the Program Aide II for the Adoption and Outreach portion of the SCRI “Efficient Vineyard” project.

Originally from Erie, PA., Kim received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Thiel College in Greenville, PA.   She has been involved in a number of projects at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory (CLEREL) in both the vineyards and hop yards.  She has also been responsible for the collection of data for the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program.  The largest impact Kim has had on the industry is that she has created GIS maps of thousands of acres of vineyards across the Lake Erie Grape Belt.  These maps are the base upon which the research information is built so that growers are able to see where changes in management need to be made to get a better harvest from their vineyards.

Kim’s priorities for this project will be to work with research and extension team members to ensure project outcomes are documented and reported in a timely manner.

Differential Vineyard Management

Kaan Kurtural, Ph.D.

Kaan Kurtural completed his PhD at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in Plant Biology in 2005. His PhD work explored the effects of crop load management on whole grapevine photosynthesis of wine grapes and developing spatial decision support systems on how best to convert broad acre agricultural land to production viticulture. After completing his PhD, Dr. Kurtural joined the faculty at University of Kentucky (2005-2008) as Viticulture Specialist in Cooperative Extension. His work there focused on crop load management of hybrid grapevines and its effect on primary bud cold hardiness. While at University of Kentucky, he also developed a vineyard site selection spatial decision support system where macro- and mesoclimate as well as soil properties of the lower Midwestern U.S. were modeled to aid Farm Advisors and prospective growers to assist with pre-planting decisions.

Prior to joining University of California Dr. Kurtural was appointed as the inaugural Bronco Wine Company Research Chair in Viticulture at the California State University Fresno. While there, Kurtural has done extensive research on mechanization of crop load management for optimizing grape yields and composition in the San Joaquin Valley of California. His more recent work focused on comparison of crop load management systems and differential regulated deficit irrigation on vineyards converted from traditional California sprawl trellises to other trellis and canopy-management systems in warm climates. Preliminary results suggest conversion to a single high-wire bilateral cordon mechanically pruned system can result in more efficient use of applied water with greater yields and similar berry skin phenolics. This study provided important information for California wine grape growers about how best to convert and manage canopies in light of declining resources such as labor and water. More recently he has also worked on effects of fruit zone light management and applied water amounts on plant secondary metabolites.

Kurtural will be actively involved in research under a recently awarded $6 million, four-year, national grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) to develop and demonstrate tools and technologies for precision vineyard management. Kurtural within the SCRI grant, will lead the variable-rate vineyard management portion, where wine grapes, juice grapes and table grapes are the commodities of interest.  The Efficient Vineyard Team at University of California consists of post-doctoral fellows Dr. Luca Brilliante and Dr. Johann Martinez-Luscher, Junior Specialist Mr. Andrew Beebe, as well as graduate students Cliff Yu and Christopher Chen.

Extension Educator, Business Mgmt.

Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin has had a lifelong interest in the Lake Erie Grape Region.  While he didn’t know it at the time, growing up on a vineyard was providing invaluable future job experience.  He did not realize, initially, his professional interests would lead to a career related to his childhood experiences.  With a Juris Doctorate and a graduate degree in Public Administration, his work now focuses on business and financial planning.  He also provides benchmarking to analyze the costs and benefits of evolving production practices.  Technology, including canopy sensors, is a current hot topic facilitating an evolution in management strategies going forward.