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Posts Tagged: Glenn Nader

August 2018 News Clips 8/1-8/15

UC: Tariffs could cost fruit, nut industries over $3 billion

(Farm Press) Aug. 15

A new report released by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center estimates the higher tariffs could cost major U.S. fruit and nut industries $2.64 billion per year in exports to countries imposing the higher tariffs, and as much as $3.34 billion by reducing prices in alternative markets.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/uc-tariffs-could-cost-fruit-nut-industries-over-3-billion

Evacuation priorities: Save people first, then livestock

(Ag Alert) Kathy Coatney, Aug. 15

"It's generally too difficult to get trucks out on such a short notice," said Glenn Nader, University of California Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor emeritus for Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties.

… Carissa Koopmann Rivers, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Siskiyou County, said the Klamathon fire, first reported in early July, devastated the town of Hornbrook, which is situated in a cattle-producing area.

…Ricky Satomi, UCCE forestry advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties, said if there's a wildfire and a person has advanced notice, there are several things that can be done to save buildings before evacuating.

http://agalert.com/story/?id=12106

Tariffs Could Cost California Growers Billions

(Growing Produce) Christina Herrick, Aug. 15

new study from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center finds that tariffs on 10 fruit and tree nut exports alone are estimated to cost the U.S. $3.4 billion annually.

https://www.growingproduce.com/nuts/tariffs-cost-california-growers-billions/

Interior Secretary: Environmental policies, poor forest management to blame for wildfires

(Circa) Leandra Bernstein, Aug. 14

…"Together, poor land management, poor land use planning and the onset of climate change, we have created the perfect environment for the perfect firestorm in California. It's completely expected and it's going to get worse," explained Dr. Kate Wilkin, a fire scientist at the University of California Cooperative Extension.

https://www.circa.com/story/2018/08/14/nation/interior-secretary-environmental-policies-poor-forest-management-to-blame-for-wildfires

Looming Chlorpyrifos Ban Has ‘Natural' Pesticide Makers Buzzing

(Bloomberg) Tiffany Stecker, Aug. 14

...Alternatives may be available, but they lack the punch of chlorpyrifos, which kills multiple pests at once, Beth Grafton-Cardwell, a scientist working with citrus farmers as part of the University of California Cooperative Extension, told Bloomberg Environment.

https://www.bna.com/looming-chlorpyrifos-ban-n73014481691/

Fierce and Unpredictable: How Wildfires Became Infernos

(New York Times) Jim Robbins, Aug. 13

…Triple-digit temperatures “preheat the fuels, and it makes them much more receptive to igniting,” said Scott L. Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/science/wildfires-physics.html

In California's new wildfire reality, facing the need for periodic fires to clear fuel

(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Aug. 13

While misguided forest- management policies are just one reason that fire has become more devastating, a warming climate and more development in California's wildlands also contribute, making planned burning vital, said wildfire specialist Max Moritz with UC's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“We need to become more comfortable with fire as a tool,” he said. “Prescribed fire could do a lot of good, restoring these forests to healthy conditions and reducing the fire hazard.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-s-new-wildfire-reality-2-years-of-13153404.php

8/13/18 Trade Tensions

(NewsTalk 780 KOH) Jon Sanchez Show, Aug. 13

Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agriculture Issues Center, discussed the impact of trade tariffs on agriculture and U.S. economy with Jon Sanchez

https://www.spreaker.com/user/10565136/sanchez0813

UCCE Manure Nitrogen Study Update in Dairy Feed Crops

(California Dairy Magazine) Aug. 10

It takes time for the nitrogen found in dairy manure water to become available to feed crops out in the field, and as dairy producers don't want to under or over fertilize their feed crops, the UC Cooperative Extension is conducting a research trial to find out more regarding how manure water interacts in the soil with plant root systems. Watch this brief interview UC Agronomy Advisor Nicholas Clark as he summarizes a recent presentation he shared at the Golden State Dairy Management Conference.

http://www.californiadairymagazine.com/2018/08/10/ucce-manure-nitrogen-study-update-in-dairy-feed-crops

Trees vital as heat waves ravage Southland, experts and L.A. officials say

 (Hub LA) Hugo Guzman, Aug. 10

…Researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension are helping do just that. In partnership with the United States Forest Service, researchers there have launched a 20-year study to identify trees that can withstand higher temperatures and lower rainfall. Native trees such as the Catalina Cherry and Ironwood trees, along with imports like Ghost Gum and Acacia trees, could form the future of L.A.'s canopy.

http://www.hub-la.com/news/trees-heat-waves-ravage-southland-officials/

Elkus Ranch brings kids to nature

(Half Moon Bay Review) Max Paik, Aug. 8

“I think it's important that the children get to see what it takes to care for farm animals … from the cute to the somewhat smelly,” said Igor Lacan, environmental horticulture adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension, which runs the ranch.

https://www.hmbreview.com/news/elkus-ranch-brings-kids-to-nature/article_623c066a-9b25-11e8-b7bd-5b37951a239e.html

What These Wildfires Say About Climate Change

(OnPoint NPR) Eric Westervelt, Aug. 8

Guests

  • Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire, the state's fire agency.
  • Ryan Lillis, reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered most of Northern California's fires for the last 12 years. (@Ryan_Lillis)
  • Lenya Quinn-Davidson, area fire adviser with the University of California's Cooperative Extension, which works with counties and communities in the state on managing the threat of wildfires. Northern California coordinator of the California Fire Science Consortium. (@lenyaqd)

Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at

Pennsylvania State University. Co-author of "The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy." (@MichaelEMann)

http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/08/08/mendocino-complex-wildfires-california-climate-change

Drought may be increasing camel cricket numbers

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug. 8

A few years ago, University of California viticulture and pest management advisors noticed unusual leaf symptoms in certain Napa County hillside vineyards that were right next to oak woodlands.

As described by the UC Cooperative Extension's Monica Cooper and Lucia Varela, the feeding activity they noted in April 2015 resulted in a “lace-like” appearance to damaged leaves. Then last year, in March, they observed feeding damage to expanding buds.

… Where vineyards have come into play is when they were situated on hillsides next to oak woodlands and mixed species of white alders, madrone, California bay, and Douglas fir, according to Varela, a north coast integrated pest management advisor, and Rhonda Smith, a UCCE viticulture advisor.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/drought-may-be-increasing-camel-cricket-numbers

Yes, humans have made wildfires like the Carr fire worse. Here's how.

(Washington Post) Sarah Kaplan, Aug. 8

…Many forests in the western United States are “fire adapted” said Scott Stephens, a fire ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley. Natural wildfires every 5, 10 or 20 years help clear debris from the forest floor and make room for stronger, healthier trees.

…Wildfires are as unstoppable as hurricanes, Stephens said — and much like hurricanes, increasingly inevitable as the climate changes. “But you could do a lot more when you're getting ready for fire to inevitably occur,” he said. By building with fire-safe materials, establishing buffer zones between ecosystems and communities, and better caring for forests before fire season starts, some of the destructiveness of fires could be mitigated, Stephens said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/amp-stories/humans-have-made-wildfires-worse-heres-how/

The staggering scale of California's wildfires

(New York Times) Lisa Friedman, Jose A. Del Real, Aug. 8

…Lisa: Mr. Trump in his tweet referred to the longstanding dispute between California farmers and environmentalists over the allocation of the state's precious water resources. Both sides want more and Mr. Trump has embraced the arguments of the agriculture community.

But William Stewart, a forestry specialist at the University of California, Berkeley said leaving less water for fish would have no impact on amount available for fighting fires. That water comes from local streams and rivers, where water-dropping helicopters drop their buckets. Neither he nor other scientists could point to a scenario in which California's environmental laws have prevented or curbed the use of water to fight wildfires.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/us/california-today-fires-and-climate.html

California giving out $170 million in cap-and-trade revenue to help prevent wildfires

(San Francisco Chronicle) Kimberly Veklerov, Aug. 8

…Groups in six Bay Area counties will get a combined $7.4 million. The biggest portion of that, $3.6 million, will go to UC Berkeley. The Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2016 withdrew what would have been an award of roughly the same amount to thin and remove eucalyptus trees in the East Bay hills after a lawsuit by conservation activists.

…Keith Gilless, chairman of Cal Fire, said the state needs to do much more vegetation management — activities like reducing hazardous plant fuels — to address wildfire risk.

“One of the things we need in California moving forward is striking a better balance between carbon sequestration in forests and the risk associated with that densely stocked carbon sequestration,” said Gilless, also a UC Berkeley professor of forest economics. “We need to figure out ways to do vegetation management that are socially acceptable with the smallest public subsidy possible.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/California-doles-out-170-million-in-13139050.php

These California counties have the highest concentration of homes vulnerable to wildfire

(Sac Bee) Michael Finch II, Aug. 7

In the case of the northern counties, the risk will be higher because homes there often dispersed at the edge of a wildland area, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a Eureka-based fire advisor for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“Those areas that you mentioned are areas that have a lot of homes mixed into the wildland-urban interface — areas where there are a lot of homes that are edgy and in the forest and have a lot of fuel.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article216076320.html#storylink=cpy

Can More Logging Help Prevent California Wildfires?

(KQED) Forum, Aug. 7

Cal Fire officials announced yesterday that the Mendocino Complex fire grew to over 283,000 acres, making it the largest in state history. As wildfires across the state rage on, Governor Brown and some lawmakers are calling for increased forest thinning to lessen the threat posed by fires. Those in favor of logging say that removing trees and vegetation can help reduce a fire's intensity and make forests more resilient. Opponents say thinning does nothing to protect communities from fires and imperils species that depend on dense forests. We'll take up the debate.

Guests:

Chad Hanson, director, John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute ; co-author, "Nature's Phoenix: The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires"

Molly Peterson, reporter on assignment for KQED News

Scott Stephens, professor of fire science at the College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Rich Gordon, president and CEO, California Forestry Association, former assemblymember representing California's 21st district

Jim Wood, assemblymember for district 2, Sonoma County, a member of the Senate and Assembly conference committee on wildfire preparedness and response

https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101866607/can-more-logging-help-prevent-california-wildfires

Trump wants to clear more trees to halt fires. The feds need to spend more, experts say.

(Sac Bee) Emily Cadei and Kate Irby, Aug. 7

“I think for a number of years the feds were more ahead of this dilemma, at least in discussions,” said Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. But “I have to say right now, I think the state is moving ahead. It's certainly being more innovative, it's doing more policy work.”

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216160995.html

Trump says California's water policies are making the wildfires worse. Is he right?

(Sac Bee) Dale Kasler, Aug. 6

William Stewart, a forestry management expert at UC Cooperative Extension, agreed. “The entity that's doing the worst job are the people working for him,” Stewart said, referring to Trump.

Stewart said the Carr Fire, which killed seven people and forced mass evacuations in and around Redding, started in shrub and grasslands west of the city, not in the forests. Only lately, after the threat to Redding abated, has the fire moved north onto Forest Service land and forested property owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, he said.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article216181625.html

California Groundwater Law Means Big Changes Above Ground, Too

(Water Deeply) Matt Weiser, Aug. 6

The best groundwater recharge areas have certain soil types that are good at absorbing water. These areas have already been mapped by, among others, the California Soil Resource Lab at the University of California, Davis. [Tobi o'Geen's lab]

https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2018/08/06/california-groundwater-law-means-big-changes-above-ground-too

Cal Fire responds to President Trump's tweet about state wildfires

(ABC7) Rob McMillan, Aug. 6

Cal Fire and a researcher from UC Riverside responded to Donald Trump's tweet related to the state's wildfires on Monday.

"Thinning would be a good idea, but the question is how you thin properly," UC Riverside's Dr. Richard Minnich said.

"There are too many trees in the ground sucking the ground dry. That's one of the reasons you had so many trees die in the Sierras."
But Minnich says that there is plenty of water in California. Shasta is the biggest reservoir in the state and it's currently more than two-thirds full.

https://abc7.com/politics/cal-fire-responds-to-president-trumps-tweet-/3896820/

California Wildfires: It's a people problem

(East Bay Times) Lisa Krieger, Aug. 5

Even as fires rage across California, thousands of new homes are being built deeper into our flammable foothills and forests, as lethal as they are lovely.

A big reason why: It's harder to do controlled burns — one of the most effective fire suppression techniques — near residential areas, due to smoke concerns. Until the 1970's, fire suppression tended to minimize fire spread.

“If homes are sprinkled through the landscape, you take that key tool off the table,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with UC's Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/08/05/california-wildfires-its-a-people-problem/

Report: Future climate could affect street trees

(Turlock Journal) Kristina Hacker, Aug. 3

Eighty-one years from now, Turlock's climate could resemble more of southeast California's high desert areas, according to a new report that says inland California municipalities should consider increasing temperatures due to climate change when planting street trees.

…"Urban foresters in inland cities of California should begin reconsidering their palettes of common street trees to prepare for warmer conditions expected in 2099 due to climate change," said the study's co-author, Igor Lacan, UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor in the Bay Area.

https://www.turlockjournal.com/news/local/report-future-climate-could-affect-street-trees/

Wildfires force California to reckon with a not-so-new normal

(Christian Science Monitor) Martin Kuz, Aug. 3

…The committee's focus on improving utility grid safety and examining the liability of power companies reflects the causes of several blazes in 2017. The absence of land use planning from its agenda suggests what Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, describes as a “political will problem.”

“If you want to keep communities safe, then you have to think about living differently, about where and how we build our communities,” he says. “But there's no bill in the legislature about that.”

https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0803/Wildfires-force-California-to-reckon-with-a-not-so-new-normal

Will smoke taint summer harvests in the Mother Lode?

(The Union Democrat) Giuseppe Ricapito, Aug. 3

Drift smoke from the Ferguson Fire has some Tuolumne County vintners and agriculturalists concerned about the commercial viability of the early fall grape harvest, but one forestry official with the University of California noted that the native wilderness of the Mother Lode has a developed adaptability to smoky conditions.

Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor with the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Central Sierra Cooperative Extension, said that “smoke taint” of commercial agriculture was always a concern during fire season.

“It's grapes we worry about the most,” she said. “In the past there have been bad years when there was a lot of smoke where grapes were on the vine and wineries had to produce the smoky wine because of that effect.”

https://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/6425094-151/will-smoke-taint-summer-harvests-in-the-mother

Coyote encounters expected to rise during heat and drought

(ABC 10) Jared Aarons, Allison Horn, Aug. 2

The record-breaking heat and drought are forcing animals, including coyotes, out of their natural habitats and closer to humans…

The University of California Coyote Catcher website tracks sightings and attacks. Their figures for 2018 show coyote incidents are down compared to last year. In 2017, there were 142 coyote attacks. More than halfway through 2018, San Diego is on track to stay below that number, with 64 attacks.

According to the website, there have been six reported pet deaths this year.

https://www.10news.com/news/coyote-encounters-expected-to-rise-during-heat-and-drought

Backyard chickens are dying in droves in SoCal. Will disease spread to Valley?

(Fresno Bee) Robert Rodriguez, Aug. 2

Maurice Pitesky, a veterinarian and University of California extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, said backyard chicken owners should closely watch their flocks.

Symptoms include, sneezing, coughing, green watery diarrhea, neck twisting, paralysis, decreased egg production and swelling around the eyes and neck.

https://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/agriculture/article215859875.html

Growers prepare for smaller prune harvest

(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Aug 2

…With guidance from University of California Cooperative Extension advisors, growers have been paying close attention to tree water stress and sugar levels in the weeks leading up to the harvest, which was expected to begin in about the third week of August.

… “It's probably going to vary a little bit because the cropping is really variable,” UCCE advisor emeritus Rick Buchner says of the prune crop. “Some of it is good and some is really light. We had a heck of a time pollinating them.”

…“Harvest can be a nerve-wracking time in the prune business,” UCCE advisors Franz Niederholzer and Wilbur Reil note in a California Dried Plum Board blog post. “The finish line – when the entire crop is in the bins – may be in sight, but here are still tough decisions to be made that influence your bottom line.”

…In general, harvest can be expected roughly 30 days after the first healthy fruit in an orchard starts changing color, UCCE orchard advisor Katherine Jarvis-Shean explains in a separate blog post. She urged growers to time their irrigation cut-off to improve dry-away ratios, reduce premature fruit drop and decrease shaker bark damage at harvest.

https://www.westernfarmpress.com/orchard-crops/growers-prepare-smaller-prune-harvest

Researchers look at ways to improve onion yields

(Ag Alert) Padma Nagappan, Aug. 1

Jairo Diaz-Ramirez and five other scientists have recently completed year two of an irrigation trial for onions, testing furrow and drip irrigation, and found that their methods produced good results, without water distress or soil tension. They tested the Taipan variety of onions.

http://agalert.com/story/Default.aspx?id=12068

UC advisor to Northern California ranchers rides off into the sunset

Glenn Nader, wearing blue cap, in the field with ranchers.
Glenn Nader, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor in Sutter and Yuba counties, retired on March 14 after 32 years supporting the iconic California cattle ranching industry.

“I feel blessed to have been able to be in an organization that allows you to come to work each day and use the power of the University of California system to solve local problems and help improve people's lives,” Nader said.

After earning a bachelor's degree in animal science at California State University, Chico, and a master's degree in animal nutrition from UC Davis, Nader joined UC ANR in 1982 as a livestock and natural resources advisor in Lassen County. Over the years, advances in information technology dramatically changed the way he communicated with ranchers.

In the early 1980s, Nader mimeographed lengthy newsletters and mailed them to clientele. In recent times, he emailed a paragraph with hyperlinks to more information. While in Lassen County, Nader also maintained a morning agriculture radio program as a method of extending information.

“I am impressed that UC ANR allows advisors to able to lead collaborative groups to solve problems in the field,” Nader said, a practice that he used numerous times over his career.

Examples include his work in the Pine Creek Coordinated Management Plan and the Yuba and Butte counties coordinated pre-fire management plan. A recent article in California Agriculture journal, UC Cooperative Extension works with fire councils to reduce wildfires, highlights the pre-fire plan's role in stopping two potentially catastrophic fires. Although not a fire scientist himself, Nader aggregated the basic concepts from UC Cooperative Extension during a sabbatical leave to be better able to address problems of the local communities he served.

The groups that he worked with were honored with the Smoky Bear Award and the Cal Fire Service Award. The Pine Creek CRMP group's work was cited as a reason to not list the Eagle Lake trout as endangered. Nader also used his animal science background to work with other advisors to publish information on how grazing could be used as a tool reduce fuels.

In 1996, Nader transferred to Sutter and Yuba counties. He said looks back on the rice straw research he conducted with animal science specialist Peter Robinson there with a sense of fulfillment. Their work over 14 years showed that preventing rice straw from drying greatly increases the nutritional value to animals. Their work was one of the UC Cooperative Extension programs recognized with the Circle of Life award from the California Rice Commission.

Nader was named the Cattleman of the Year from both the Lassen and Butte county Cattlemen's associations. He was recognized by the California Cattlemen's Association for his education and research work. The Butte and Yuba Fire Safe Councils honored Nader for his assistance in forming and for actively participating in their councils.

“I saw the councils as the perfect platform to extend research information to local residents on what they could do to reduce their risks to wildfire,” Nader said.

During a presentation to UC President Dynes on pre-fire planning, the resulting discussion revealed a need to teach the thermal transfer process for people to better understand how fire science related to fire safety recommendations.

“This is an example of how the interaction with UC faculty that can perfect the impact of Cooperative Extension,” he said.

Nader said he especially enjoyed the people he worked with during his career.

“I appreciate all the clientele and ANR staff that allowed me to greatly enjoy the blessing of being a farm advisor for 32 years,” Nader said.

During retirement he plans to spend more time with his wife Marie and son Alan on their Modoc County ranch.

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 11:17 AM
Tags: Glenn Nader (12), retirement (31)

California black rail likes leaks

The California black rail is heard but rarely seen.
While Californians are tightening their pipes to conserve water during this fourth year of drought, the California black rail might say, “Let it leak,” if it could speak.

The rare bird species makes its home in marshes created in large part by leaky pipes, stock ponds, irrigation tailwater and unlined canals. Even the springs that support some habitat may rely on water flowing from leaky canals. In 1994, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists found the small, red-eyed bird with the black breast and speckled black feathers at UC ANR's Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center. Since its discovery, a group of scientists have been exploring the effects of water management and climate change on the bird in Sutter, Butte and Yuba counties.

California black rails, which can be heard more often than seen, largely depend on humans and irrigated agriculture to provide the shallow flowing water they use for habitat.

Accidental wetlands created by leaky pipes and ponds are habitat for the black rail habitat.
Because most of the rangeland in the area is privately held, and includes irrigated pasture for livestock, Lynn Huntsinger, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, wondered if property owners would be willing to maintain wetlands to support wildlife.

With the help of UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisors Glenn Nader and Roger Ingram, Huntsinger conducted a survey of 1,000 landowners in the three counties.

Property owners responding to the survey said the primary reason for maintaining ponds and wetlands is to reduce wildfire risk, but they also like the birds and wildlife that are attracted by wet areas. However, Huntsinger worries that the “accidental wetlands” may dry up as the drought increases the pressure on people to conserve water by fixing leaks and replacing canals built during the 19th century Gold Rush with pipes.

Most of the farmers and ranchers buy water from a water district so Huntsinger sees working with water districts as a key to the sustainability of wetlands for wildlife.

Property owners favor ponds to protect against wildfire and to support wildlife.
“Water is going to be more expensive and harder to access given the trends in weather and population demand,” she said. To predict how long landowners will continue to maintain wetlands if water prices rise, Huntsinger is working with Jose Oviedo, an environmental economist in Spain.

More and more, she says, it seems that we are facing tradeoffs between “goods”— saving water is good and preserving wildlife habitat is good. “We need flexibility and adaptation rather than all or nothing choices. After all, we are creating the future landscape of California,” Huntsinger said.

Huntsinger's study is just one facet of a California black rail study that involves scientists with different kinds of expertise.

Steve Beissinger, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, has been studying black rail behavior for years and continues to monitor how many sites in the Sierra foothills the small birds use as habitat.

Canals at the UC ANR Sierra Foothill Research & Extension date back to the Gold Rush days.
Norman Miller, a Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory hydrologist, is developing models to understand the water dynamics and sustainability of the wetlands habitat.

Marm Kilpatrick, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz, studies how concern about mosquito-borne West Nile virus may affect landowners' decisions to maintain wetlands.

“It is a novel ecosystem, offering habitat engineered by people and their livestock that happens to offer the black rail what it needs,” Huntsinger said. “We just don't know enough about conservation in this kind of situation. Managing traditional landscapes is common in Europe, but rare in the United States.”

For more information about the California black rail, see the California Agriculture article “California black rails depend on irrigation-fed wetlands in the Sierra Nevada foothills.”

Below, UC Berkeley graduate student Nathan Van Schmidt describes research at UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center on how the rails cope with drought, seasonal hydrology regimes, and the rescue effect.

An initiative to maintain and enhance sustainable natural ecosystems is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Posted on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 9:17 AM

Ranchers learn how to turn straw into 'gold'

About 50 ranchers gathered this week in Willows to learn how they can convert straw left over from the rice harvest into a palatable and nutritious feed for cattle, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press.

By baling rice straw before it dries and tarping it to keep the straw moist until it is fed to cattle, the feed, called "strawlage," is comparable to low-quality alfalfa, UC Cooperative Extension scientists say.

“We haven't figured everything out, but with the drought conditions as serious as they are, we feel the time is right to share our research with growers,” said Glenn Nader, the UCCE advisor who organized the field day.

Because of the drought, "There's going to be a significant problem with feed coming into this winter and rice strawlage may be an answer," said Peter Robinson, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Animal Science at Davis.

The feed can turn black and become a little slimy, but the cows don't seem to mind.

“The cattle do eat this really well,” rancher Herb Holzaphel said during the workshop. “It didn't feed as good as silage, but it fed better than normal straw.”

For more information, see the UC Rice Project website.

Cows attacking rice strawlage as tractor drops into feeder.
Cows attacking rice strawlage as tractor drops into feeder.

Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 8:22 AM
Tags: Glenn Nader (12), Peter Robinson (1), strawlage (1)

Win-win drought solution for livestock and rice producers

Innovation allows livestock producers and rice farmers to solve each other's problems

Cattle eating "strawlage"
UC Cooperative Extension advisor Glenn Nader believes two problems could add up to one win-win solution.

The California drought has ranchers desperate for inexpensive livestock feed. Air quality protection regulations that limit rice straw burning leave the rice industry with an abundance of typically low-quality straw to unload. Though it has rarely been done, Nader believes special treatment of rice straw will make it a nutritious cattle food. Two problems solved.

Nader will introduce producers to this new way to get through the drought at a meeting from 9 a.m. to 12 noon July 29 at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 525 W. Sycamore St., Willows, Calif.

When rice straw dries, its value as a forage declines dramatically. For 15 years, UC researchers have been trying to figure out why, but the reason for the significant change is not understood at this time.

"At one time, we thought the problem was silica in the straw," Nader said. "We grew silica-free rice. That didn't work. We thought it was the crystallinity of molecules in the straw. We parsed apart the plant, and we still don't know."

Ultimately, it was a rancher who suggested the scientists to put aside their desire to know why quality declines when rice straw dries and look for practical ways to get around it. Nader postponed his retirement to comply.

Normally, rice growers bale the straw two to four days after harvest. Nader and his colleagues instead baled the straw immediately after it exited the grain harvester. They stacked the green straw bales and covered them with a tarp to retain moisture and prevent spontaneous combustion. The result is a product they named "strawlage." One worry is mold. The researchers found that treating the straw with propionic acid prevents fungus growth.

"We haven't figured everything out, but with the drought conditions as serious as they are, we feel the time is right to share our research with growers," Nader said. "We invite producers to come to the meeting to see if this will work for their operations. Several producers who have already fed strawlage to their cattle will speak at the meeting about their experiences."

Nader believes the UC research into using rice straw for livestock feed will be helpful throughout the world.

Asian farmers produce rice straw in great abundance and their livestock would benefit significantly if the farmers worked to maintain the plant's moisture until it reaches cattle feeding troughs.

The July 29 meeting will cover:

  • Nutritional advantages of strawlage over rice straw
  • The challenges of baling the straw at 50 to 60 percent moisture
  • Additives to prevent mold
  • How to stake and tarp strawlage
  • The costs associated with the practice
  • How cows that ate strawlage last year fared

"Our goal is to give producers information that will allow them to make rice strawlage during this fall's harvest," Nader said. "Both cattle and rice producers are encouraged to attend."

Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 11:33 AM
  • Author: Jeannette Warnert
Tags: drought (202), Glenn Nader (12), Livestock and Dairy (3), rice (44)

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