Daniel Brainard

Daniel Brainard

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MSU Extension




Quick links: Education and Experience   Lab Personnel  Teaching   Publications    Outreach    Research


15% Teaching
50% Research 
35% Extension


Ph.D. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA (Horticulture) 2002
M.A. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA (Economics) 1993
B.A. Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, USA (Economics & Third World Studies) 1987

Professional Experience

Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; 
Aug 2013- 2020

Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; 
Aug 2007- 2012

Senior Research Associate, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY;

Water Resource Management, Peace Corps, Mali, West Africa; 1987-89



HRT 341 Vegetable Production and Management.  Spring Semester.  3 Credit Hours.

The  primary goals for HRT 341 are to 1) facilitate student development of practical skills and knowledge that will enhance their ability to succeed in sustainably producing high quality vegetables; 2) reinforce scientific, evidence-based approaches to horticultural crop production that will enhance student success in a wide range of careers; 3) broaden student perspectives on the complexity of food production and distribution, and the diversity of successful production models, so that they can make more informed choices as consumers and future leaders.

To accomplish those goals the course 1) provides core presentations on principles of vegetable production, drawing on my own expertise and experiences, as well as those of vegetable specialists, extension educators and farmers; 2) reinforces core concepts and skill-development with hands-on lab exercises and field trips; 3) encourages integrative, independent and creative problem solving through group projects, written assignments and discussion; and 4) builds communication skills through written and oral assignments and presentations. 


Research Interests

The overall goal of my research program is to improve the long-term profitability of vegetable production systems while enhancing environmental and human health.  Vegetable producers face a growing array of economic and biological constraints including rising labor and energy costs, declining soil health, expansion of pest problems and an increased incidence of extreme weather events.  To help alleviate these constraints, current research interests fall under two broad areas: 1) development of reduced-tillage, cover-crop intensive vegetable production systems and 2) weed ecology and management, with an emphasis on integration of physical and cultural practices.  I am currently exploring opportunities to introduce strip tillage systems in several vegetable crops with the objective of reducing energy costs and building soil health.  I’m also involved in collaborative research aimed at integrating low-cost, nitrogen-fixing and nutrient scavenging cover crops into vegetable cropping systems using a variety of approaches including relay-intercropping, and optimization of multi-species mixtures.  Since weeds often represent a formidable obstacle to adoption of sustainable production practices, much of my research has focused on development of weed management strategies for vegetable producers, emphasizing integration of multiple approaches including smother cropping, mechanical cultivation, crop rotation, and stale seed bed practices.  I am particularly interested in the long term impact of management practices on weed population dynamics.  Research in this area has focused on (i) evaluating the interactive effects of climate and weed management on seed production and fate, (ii) characterizing sources of intraspecific variation in weed seed characteristics and (iii) understanding the impact of soil fertility management on weed seed germination, weed seedbank dynamics and weed-crop competition. 


My outreach efforts strive to balance 1) identification of short-term solutions to immediate vegetable grower problems, and 2) promotion of long-term approaches to building resilient vegetable cropping systems given anticipated production constraints and opportunities. 

Areas of outreach emphasis include strategies to reduce agrichemical use and input costs while improving soil health and crop resilience to extreme rainfall and wind events.  Towards that end, I’m currently working with growers on a number of different projects including:

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Lowry, C.J., G.P. Robertson and D.C. Brainard. 2021. Strip-tillage decreases soil nitrogen availability and increases the potential for N losses in a cover cropped organic system. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 319, p.107524.
  • Lowry, C.J., Brainard, D.C., Kumar, V., Smith, R.G., Singh, M., Kumar, P., Kumar, A., Kumar, V., Joon, R.K., Jat, R.K. and Poonia, S., 2021. Weed germinable seedbanks of rice–wheat systems in the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains: Do tillage and edaphic factors explain community variation?. Weed Research (in Press).
  • Maher, R.M., Rangarajan, A., Caldwell, B.A., Hayden, Z.D. and Brainard, D.C., 2021. Legume species not spatial arrangement influence cover crop mixture effects in strip‐tilled organic cabbage. Agronomy Journal (in Press).
  • Tarrant, A.R., Brainard, D.C. and Hayden, Z.D., 2020. Cover Crop Performance between Plastic-mulched Beds: Impacts on Weeds and Soil Resources. HortScience 55: 1069-1077.
  • Moore, V.M., Maul, J.E., Wilson, D., Curran, W.S., Brainard, D.C., Devine, T.E. and Mirsky, S.B., 2020. Registration of ‘Purple Bounty’and ‘Purple Prosperity’ hairy vetch. Journal of Plant Registrations, 14: 340-346.
  • Lund, M., Brainard, D.C., Coudron, T. and Szendrei, Z., 2020. Predation threat modifies Pieris rapae performance and response to host plant quality. Oecologia, 193: 389-401.
  • Lowry, C.J. and D.C. Brainard. 2019. Strip-intercropping of Rye-Vetch Mixtures: Effects on Weed Growth and Competition in Strip-tilled Sweet Corn.  Weed Science  67: 114-125.
  • Lund, M, D.C. Brainard and Z. Szendrei. 2019. Cue hierarchy for host plant selection in Pieris rapae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae).  Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 167:330-340.
  • Blesh, J., E. VanDusen and D.C. Brainard. 2019. Managing ecosystem services with cover crop mixtures on organic farms.  Agronomy Journal 111:826-840.
  • Frost, M.D, E.R. Haramoto, K.A. Renner and D.C. Brainard. 2019. Tillage and cover crop effects on weed seed persistence: Do light-exposure or fungal pathogens play a role? Weed Science 67:103-113.
  • Brainard, D.C., B. Byl, Z.D. Hayden, D.C. Noyes, J. Bakker, and B. Werling. 2019. Managing drought risk in a changing climate: Irrigation and cultivar impacts on Michigan asparagus. Agricultural Water Management 213: 773-781.
  • Lowry, C.J. and D.C. Brainard. 2019. Organic farmer perceptions of reduced tillage: A Michigan farmer survey. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 34: 103-115.
  • Habteweld, A.W., D.C. Brainard, A. Kravchenko, P.S. Grewal, and H.Melakeberhan, 2018. Effects of plant and animal waste-based compost amendments on the soil food web, soil properties, and yield and quality of fresh market and processing carrot cultivars. Nematology 20: 147-168.
  • Quinn, N.F., D.C. Brainard,and Z. Szendrei, 2017. Floral strips attract beneficial insects but do not enhance yield in cucumber fields. Journal of Economic Entomology, 110: 517-524.
  • Grabau, Z.J., Maung, Z.T.Z., Noyes, D.C., Baas, D.G., Werling, B.P., Brainard, D.C. and Melakeberhan, H., 2017. Effects of cover crops on Pratylenchus penetrans and the nematode community in carrot production. Journal of Nematology 49: 114-123.
  • Rao, A.N., Brainard, D.C., Kumar, V., Ladha, J.K. and Johnson, D.E., 2017. Preventive Weed Management in Direct-Seeded Rice: Targeting the Weed Seedbank. Advances in Agronomy 144: 45-142.
  • Lowry, C.J. and D.C.Brainard, 2017. Rye–Vetch Spatial Arrangement and Tillage: Impacts on Soil Nitrogen and Sweet Corn Roots. Agronomy Journal 109: 1013-1023.
  • Haramoto, E.R. and D.C. Brainard. 2017. Spatial and temporal variability in Powell amaranth emergence under strip-tillage with cover crop residue. Weed Science 65: 151-163
  • Quinn, N., D.C. Brainard and Z. Szendrei.  2016. The effect of conservation tillage and cover crop residue on beneficial arthropods and weed seed predation in acorn squash. Environmental Entomology 45: 1543–1551.
  • Lowry, C. and D.C. Brainard.  2016. Strip-intercropping of rye-vetch mixtures affects biomass, C:N ratio, and spatial distribution of cover crop residue. Agronomy Journal 108: 2433-2443.
  • Brainard, D.C., A. Bryant, D.C. Noyes, E.R. Haramoto and Z. Szendrei.  2016. Evaluating pest-regulating services under conservation agriculture:  A case study in snap beans. Agriculture, Ecosystems and the Environment 235: 142-154.
  • Teimouri Jervekani, M., Karimmojeni, H., Brainard, D.C. and Jafari, M., 2016. Sesame genotype influences growth and phenology of Phelipanche aegyptiaca. Annals of Applied Biology 169: 46-52.
  • Hayden, Z.D., M. Ngouajio and D.C. Brainard. 2015.  Planting date and staggered seeding of rye-vetch mixtures: Biomass, nitrogen, and legume winter survival.  Agronomy Journal 107: 1-8.
  • Bjorkman, T., C. Lowry, J.W. Shail, D.C. Brainard, D.S. Anderson and J.B. Masiunas. 2015.  Mustard cover crops for biomass production and weed suppression in the Great Lakes Region.  Agronomy Journal 107: 1235-1249.
  • DiTommaso, A., M.R. Ryan, C.L. Mohler, D.C. Brainard, R.E. Schuler, L.L. Allee, J.E. Losey. 2014. Effect of Cry3Bb Bt Corn and Tefluthrin on Post-dispersal Weed Seed Predation.  Weed Science 62: 619-624.
  • Bryant, A., T. Coudron, D.C. Brainard and Z. Szendrei.  2014. Cover crop mulches influence biological control of the imported cabbageworm (Pieris rapae L., Lepidoptera: Pieridae) in cabbage. Biological Control 73: 75-83.
  • Hayden, Z.D., M. Ngouajio and D.C. Brainard. 2014.  Rye-vetch mixture proportion tradeoffs: Cover crop productivity, nitrogen accumulation, and weed suppression.  Agronomy Journal 106: 904-914.
  • Bryant, A., D.C. Brainard, E. Haramoto and Z. Szendrei.  2013. Cover crop mulch and weed management influence arthropod communities in strip-tilled cabbage (Brassica oleracea). Environmental Entomology 42: 293-306.
  • Brainard, D.C., E. Haramoto, M.M. Williams and S.B. Mirsky.  2013. Towards a no-till no-spray future?  Introduction to the symposium on non-chemical weed management in reduced tillage cropping systems. Weed Technology 27: 190-192.
  • Brainard, D.C., E. Peachey, E. Haramoto, J. Luna and A. Rangarajan.  2013. Weed ecology and management under strip-tillage:  Implications for Northern U.S. vegetable cropping systems.  Weed Technology 27: 218-230.
  • Kumar, V., S. Singh, R.S. Chhokar, R.K. Malik, D.C. Brainard and J.K. Ladha. 2013. Weed management strategies to reduce herbicide use in zero-tillage rice-wheat cropping systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains. Weed Technology 27: 241-254.
  • Brainard, D.C., W.S. Curran, R.R. Bellinder, M. Ngouajio, M.J. VanGessel, M.J. Haar, W.T. Lanini and J.B. Masiunas. 2013. Temperature and relative humidity affect weed response to vinegar and clove oil based herbicides. Weed Technology 27: 156-164.
  • Haramoto, E. and D.C. Brainard.  2012.  Strip tillage and oat cover crops affect soil moisture and N mineralization patterns in cabbage.  HortScience 47: 1596-1602.
  • Hayden, Z.D., D.C. Brainard, B. Henshaw, and M. Ngouajio. 2012.  Winter annual weed suppression in rye-vetch cover crop mixtures.  Weed Technology 26: 818-825.
  • Brainard, D.C. and D.C. Noyes. 2012.  Strip-tillage and compost influence carrot quality, yield and net returns.HortScience 47:1073-1079.
  • Brainard, D.C., B. Henshaw and S. Snapp. 2012. Hairy vetch varieties and bi-cultures influence cover crop services in strip-tilled sweet corn.  Agronomy Journal 104:629-638.
  • Brainard, D.C., J. Bakker, N. Myers and D.C. Noyes. 2012. Rye living-mulch effects on soil moisture and weeds in asparagus.  HortScience 47:58-63.
  • Brainard, D.C., V. Kumar and R.R. Bellinder. 2011. Grass-legume mixtures and soil fertility affect cover crop performance and weed seed production.  Weed Technology 25:473-479
  • Kumar, V., D.C. Brainard, R.R. Bellinder and R.R. Hahn. 2011. Buckwheat residue effects on weed emergence, growth and seed survival in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum).  Weed Science 59:567-573.
  • Kumar, V., D.C. Brainard and R.R. Bellinder.  2009. Effects of spring-sown cover crops on establishment of hairy galinsoga (Galinsoga ciliata) and four vegetable crops.  HortScience 44: 730-736.  (second most read paper in HortScience in April 2012)
  • Chen, M., A.M. Shelton, P. Wang, C.A. Hoepting, W.C. Kain and D.C. Brainard.  2009.  Occurrence of the new invasive insect, Contarinia nasturtii (Keiffer) (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae), on cruciferous weeds.  Journal of Economic Entomology 102:115-120.
  • Kumar, V., D.C. Brainard and R.R. Bellinder.  2009.  Suppression of Powell amaranth (Amaranthus powellii) by buckwheat residues: Role of allelopathy.  Weed Science 57:66-73.
  • Brainard, D.C., R.R. Bellinder, R.R. Hahn, D. A. Shah. 2008.  Crop rotation, cover crop, and weed management effects on weed seedbanks and yields of snap bean, sweet corn and cabbage.  Weed Science56:434-441.
  • Kumar, V., D.C. Brainard and R.R. Bellinder.  2008. Suppression of Powell amaranth (Amaranthus powellii), shepherd's-purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), and corn chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) by buckwheat residues: Role of nitrogen and fungal pathogens.  Weed Science 56:271-280.
  • Hotchkiss, E. E., A. DiTommaso, D.C. Brainard and C.L. Mohler.  2008. Survival and performance of the invasive vine Vincetoxicum rossicum (Apocynaceae) from seeds of different embryony under two light environments.  American Journal of Botany 95:447-453.
  • Kumar, V., R. R. Bellinder, D.C. Brainard, R.K. Malik and R.K. Gupta. 2008. Risks of herbicide-resistant rice in India: A review.  Crop Protection 27:320-329.
  • Kumar, V., R.R. Bellinder, R.K. Gupta, R.K. Malik and D.C. Brainard. 2008. Role of herbicide-resistance in promoting resource conservation technologies in rice-wheat cropping systems of India: A review.  Crop Protection 27:290-301.
  • DavisA.S., D.C. Brainard, E.R. Gallandt. 2008. Introduction to the Invasive Plant Species and the New Bioeconomy Symposium. Weed Science 56:866.
  • Brainard, D.C., A. DiTommaso and C.L. Mohler.  2007. Intraspecific variation in seed characteristics ofAmaranthus powellii from habitats with contrasting crop rotation histories.  Weed Science 55:218-226.
  • Rauch, R.J., R.R. Bellinder and D.C. Brainard.  2007. Using common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) control as a basis for reduction of fomesafen use in snap and dry beans.  Weed Technology 21:621-628.
  • Rauch, R.J., R.R. Bellinder, D.C. Brainard, M. Lane and J.E. Thies.  2007. Dissipation of fomesafen in New York State soils and potential to cause carry-over injury to sweet corn.  Weed Technology 21:206-212
  • Brainard, D.C., A. DiTommaso and C.L. Mohler.  2006. Intraspecific variation in germination response to ammonium nitrate of Amaranthus powellii originating from organic versus conventional vegetable farms. Weed Science 54:435-442.
  • Brainard, D.C., R.R. Bellinder and A. DiTommaso. 2005. Effects of canopy shade on the morphology, phenology, and seed characteristics of Powell amaranth. Weed Science 53:175-186.
  • DiTommaso, A., D.C. Brainard and B. Webster.  2005. Seed characteristics of the invasive alien vineVincetoxicum rossicum are affected by site, harvest date, and storage duration. Canadian Journal of Botany83:102-110.
  • Brainard, D.C., R.R. Bellinder and A.J. Miller.  2004. Cultivation and interseeding for weed control in transplanted cabbage (Brassica oleracea).  Weed Technology 18:704-710.
  • Brainard, D.C. and R.R. Bellinder.  2004. Weed suppression in a broccoli-winter rye intercropping system.Weed Science 52:281-290.
  • Brainard, D.C. and R.R. Bellinder.  2004. Assessing variability in Powell amaranth fecundity using a simulation model.  Weed Research 44:1-15.

Lab Personnel

Graduate Students



Technical Assistant

  • Daniel Priddy

Research Aides

  • Darla Martinez 2021
  • Shane Adams 2021
  • Brandon Hall 2021
  • Ris Agrawal 2019-20
  • Madeline Braxton 2019
  • Matt Zang 2019
  • Piper Kramer 2019
  • Adam Bresson 2019
  • Kirstianna Balnik 2019
  • Lily Wallace   2018
  • Molly Muhs  2018
  • Louanges Ndayishimiye  2018
  • Emma Rice  2018
  • Tye Wittenbach  2017
  • Samantha Govert  2017
  • Kera Howell  2017
  • Jared Emerson  2017
  • Melissa Schneider  2016
  • Sam Callow        2016
  • Paul Fowler       2015
  • Katlin Blaine      2015
  • Jamili Batista de Matos  2015
  • Drew Vandergrift           2015
  • Marisa VanDamme         2015
  • Alexis Snyder     2012-2015
  • Keren Terry        2014
  • Simon Anderson            2014
  • David Cronkright           2014
  • Markah Frost      2014
  • Max Kokmeyer   2014
  • Sam Peck          2011-2014
  • Jean Bronson     2013
  • Paul Gibson       2013
  • Hannah Gray      2013
  • Sarah Willis        2013
  • Tim Vinke           2013
  • Zack Payne        2012
  • Dan Briseno       2012
  • Heather Greyerbiehl       2012
  • Frank Horton      2012
  • Devon Rossman            2012
  • Rachel Cross     2010-12
  • David Allen        2011
  • Charlsey Hoehn  2011
  • Jacob Uebler     2011
  • Meaghan Rich    2011
  • Nathan Robinson           2011
  • Mitchell Zost      2009-10
  • Nicholas Zimmer           2009-10
  • Emma Baker     2010
  • Rachael Smith    2010
  • Jeffrey Mann      2010
  • Mary Fledger      2010
  • James Manning  2010
  • Jordan Kozelka  2009
  • Daryl Lederle      2008-09
  • Nicholas Parton  2008