Posts Tagged: Jeff Dahlberg
Record winter rainfall during the 2016-17 winter has enabled farms to emerge from survival mode in the short term, but scientists are still working hard to be ready for the next drought, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press.
Hearden spent a day at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier to learn how researchers at the facility and the UC West Side Research and Extension Center near Five Points are combining technology with management practices to put every drop of irrigation water to work.
“This is one of the few places in the world where you can do drought research on a field level,” said Jeff Dahlberg, director of the 330-acre Kearney facility. “What I'm planning is a world-class drought nursery.”
At the West Side REC, researchers are working with farmers to perfect micro-irrigation efficiency and test drought stress on the area's most prevalent crops.
“We'll grow a tremendous number of cultivars of a crop” and identify “what seem to be the most promising cultivars when you grow them under drought conditions,” said Bob Hutmacher, a cotton specialist and the center's director.
Hearden spoke to Jeff Mitchell, UCCE cropping systems specialist and director of the Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation center (CASI). CASI is encouraging farmers to adopt farming practices that save water, reduce dust and help improve the condition of soil, such as subsurface drip irrigation, overhead irrigation, minimum tillage, cover crops and crop residues.
“This is not done right now in California,” Mitchell said. “In the future, there may be a strong likelihood of certain agricultural sectors adopting these practices.”
Other subsurface irrigation trials are showing dramatic increases in yields. Khaled Bali, an irrigation water management specialist at Kearney, said underground drip systems in alfalfa fields have achieved 20 to 30 percent more yields while in some cases using 20 percent less water.
Kevin Day, a UCCE pomology advisor in Tulare County, is trying subsurface drip in a peach and nectarine orchard after working with the USDA to use it for pomegranates. He's seen as much as a 90 percent reduction in weeds because there's no surface water to feed them.
“Fewer weeds, fewer pesticides,” he said. “We use high-frequency irrigation. We irrigate as the crop needs it. When you do that, you keep the roots deeper, which makes for better aeration.”
Tea that was planted 50 years ago at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center may revive interest in growing the popular beverage in the San Joaquin Valley, reported Dale Yurong on ABC30 Action News. The reporter visited the 330-acre ag research facility Jan. 2 to get a first-hand look at what center director Jeff Dahlberg calls a "beautiful hedge."
In fact, the 13 landscape shrubs represent the best tea cultivars grown at Kearney when Lipton Tea was funding research to determine whether the Valley soils and climate could support production of plants to be used to manufacture instant tea. Today, a new trend is clearly brewing, Yurong said.
"Folks can't get enough tea," he said.
A researcher at UC Davis, who learned of the tea plants from documents stored by the campus' new Global Tea Initiative, was surprised to learn that the 50-year-old tea plants have survived and thrived. UC Davis chemistry professor Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague plans to study the soil where tea is growing to learn about the impact microbes in the rootzone may have on the health attributes of brewed tea.
Dahlberg has looped in the small-scale farm advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County, Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, to research tea production at Kearney.
"I think (tea) does have potential for some high-value tea products," he said. "And I can really envision some small farmers getting involved in this."
Read more about the tea at Kearney here.
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) have connected key UC ANR facilities to CENIC's ultra-fast 100Gbps research and education network, extending ultra-broadband capacity to UC researchers in rural sites across California.
UC ANR is comprised of nine research and extension centers (RECS) and 57 local UC Cooperative Extension offices. These facilities, until now, have been hampered by poor Internet connectivity to support the 700 UC academic researchers who are engaged with community and industry partners to ensure that California has healthy food systems, environments and communities.
The UC ANR RECS extend from the Oregon border in the north, through the Sierra foothills and Central Valley, along the Pacific Coast and south to the Mexican border. The REC facilities are situated among California's rich and unique agricultural and natural resources and they connect both applied and basic scientific research and extension activities to regional challenges and issues in these diverse settings. Today nearly all research and data analysis involves remote collaboration. In order to work effectively and efficiently on multi-institutional projects, researchers depend heavily on high-speed networks and access to large datasets and computing resources.
One of the first RECS to be connected is the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, located in rural Fresno County between the small cities of Parlier and Reedley. The Kearney REC now has very high speed broadband capability, far surpassing the speeds typically available outside urban centers.
“The Internet at Kearney was like a drinking straw delivering and retrieving information, when what we needed was a fire hose,” said Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer for UC ANR. “High-speed, broadband Internet at Kearney will allow UC ANR to lead innovative, on-farm agriculture technology research and extension for the UC in the Central Valley. It will allow Kearney researchers to share big data and big computing among UCs and globally.”
Currently, offices, laboratories and meeting facilities at Kearney have access to this high-speed Internet. In the coming months, high-speed wireless connectivity will become available throughout 330-acre center. Researchers will be able to collect and upload data without having to make a stop in their offices or laboratories.
“You can't do big data with dial-up Internet speed,” said Jeffery Dahlberg, director of the UC ANR Kearney REC. “Before this upgrade, our Internet was slower than my home Internet speeds. Now we have speeds more like you will find on UC campuses.”
Dahlberg said high-speed Internet will become a powerful research tool allowing researchers to collect and share data in real time.
“For instance, a researcher can use an infrared camera in a field collecting readings to determine how a crop responds to heat as it changes throughout the day, but even this modest instrument needs significant bandwidth,” he said. “We now have the bandwidth to do that.”
The research center draws hundreds of farmers to the site for meetings and field days. With the new capability, who that live too far way to travel to Kearney will be able to tune in to real-time video streams.
Many of UC ANR's research and extension centers are even more remote than Kearney. The Hopland (Mendocino County) and Desert (Holtville, Imperial County) RECs are now online and connected to the CENIC Network. By the end of the academic year (June 2017), West Side (western San Joaquin Valley), Hansen (Santa Clara Valley), South Coast (Orange County), Intermountain (Tulelake), Sierra Foothill (Browns Valley) and Lindcove (Tulare County), will all be on the CENIC Network. UC's environmental education center for Bay Area youth, Elkus Ranch, will also be connected to high-speed Internet via CENIC.
“CENIC is one of the most advanced research and education networks in the world and a critical resource for University of California research, education and clinical communities,” said Tom Andriola, UC Vice President and Chief Information Officer and CENIC Board member. “Extending the CENIC network to the full UC community — including UC ANR's key research and education sites — is essential to the UC mission. Today we have achieved a significant milestone, thanks to the dedication of both CENIC and ANR leadership.”
About UC ANR www.ucanr.edu
The Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) is a statewide network of University of California researchers and educators dedicated to the creation, development and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural and human resources. The University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is the bridge between local issues and the power of UC research. ANR's advisors, specialists and faculty bring practical, science-based answers to Californians.
ANR works hand in hand with industry to enhance agricultural markets, help the balance of trade, address environmental concerns, protect plant health, and provide farmers with scientifically tested production techniques and Californians with increased food safety. ANR is comprised of
- 200 locally based Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists
- 57 local offices throughout California
- 130 campus-based Cooperative Extension specialists
- 9 Research and Extension Centers
- 6 statewide programs
- 700 academic researchers in 40 departments at 3 colleges and 1 professional school:
UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources
UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
UC Riverside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
About CENIC www.cenic.org
CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research & Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students, together with educators, researchers, and other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC's Charter Associates are part of the world's largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California's Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.
Fifty-five years ago, Thomas J. Lipton Inc. funded a tea study at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, which is piquing the interest of scientists today. For 18 years, researchers pampered and coaxed 41 tea clones to determine whether tea plantations could be a lucrative alternative for San Joaquin Valley farmers.
Scientists of the time predicted a potential $25,000 economic value of future California tea plantings. Today, tea is a $3.8 billion business in the U.S. and UC Davis recently launched a Global Tea Initiative. Kearney submitted its yellowed research reports, correspondence and newspaper clippings about the long-ago tea research to the initiative's collection of research, teaching and outreach spanning agriculture, social sciences, health, culture and economics of all things tea.
That got the attention of UC Davis chemistry professor Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, who is studying microbes in the soil where tea is grown and their potential impact on the health attributes of tea.
“I believe there is a microbial exchange that ends up in the cup,” she said.
When the Kearney tea research program was scrapped in 1981, a prescient researcher had a handful of the best tea clones planted in the landscape around buildings at Kearney, where they stand today as fall-blooming non-descript shrubs.
Hague, who with her students frequently travels overseas to sample soil on tea plantations, learned of the plants at Kearney and recognized the opportunity to conduct studies in California.
“It's really remarkable,” she said.
Kearney director Jeff Dahlberg believes the renewed interest in the center's tea, growing awareness about the healthful properties of tea, and increasing enthusiasm for artisanal tea and locally grown food could turn tea into a lucrative specialty crop for small-scale San Joaquin Valley farmers.
“This may be something like blueberries,” he said. “Twenty years ago, people thought they couldn't be grown in California. But with research conducted here at Kearney, there is now a thriving blueberry industry in the San Joaquin Valley and on the coast.”
It was the same intention that prompted Dahlberg's predecessors to support the tea studies in the 1960s and 70s.
At that time, 41 clones were propagated in a lathe house at Kearney, and later planted in a half-acre field plot. In 1967, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy researcher Karl H. Ingebretsen told a newspaper reporter that the plants came from clones that survived a similar USDA trial in the 1880s.
“Most of the imported plants were taken from some growing in South Carolina, where the Lipton company found them 10 years ago growing wild,” Ingebretsen said in 1967.
The Kearney superintendent at that time, Frank Coddington, said the scientists hoped successful experimentation would lead to varieties of tea suitable for mechanical harvest and the production of instant tea, a product that in those days was becoming more and more popular.
The tea clones at Kearney grew well and appeared healthy, the reports said. Tea plants tolerated California's dry climate and stood the heat when irrigated properly. Five of the 41 clones were reported to show “real promise,” but when the tea project was terminated in 1981, only a few plants representing two of the clones were saved as landscape shrubs. Nine plants now grow on the west side of a corrugated tin warehouse, and four in the shade of knobby flowering pear trees just south of the original building at the site.
Gervay-Hague plans to build on the results from early Kearney research with 21st Century agricultural production tools.
“I won't repeat the work done in the 60s, but they didn't know about the microbiome or genetics back then,” she said. “UC Davis has 3D imaging capability, which I want to use to watch the plants change. I would like to do DNA testing.”
The UC Davis chemist is applying for grants to build a repository of plants that may become the foundation of commercial tea gardens in California.
This story en español.
Summaries of presentations from the 2016 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS) held in Pacific Grove are now available online at http://eorganic.info/node/16778. Many of the workshops and keynote presentations were recorded live and may be viewed via the eOrganic YouTube channel.
Organic Farming Research Foundation and UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, covered topics ranging from soil health, seeds, plant breeding, and biological control, to biodiversity, economics, and livestock — all with a focus on organic production.
“We are making these presentations available free online to extend the reach of all the valuable information shared at the symposium,” said Jeff Dahlberg, director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. “We're now planning the 2017 symposium and it will build on the cutting edge research shared by scientists this year.”
In the opening address, president of Organics International, André Leu, said organic agriculture offers the promise of a future to produce and distribute food and other farm products in a healthy, economically sound, truly sustainable and fair way. He called the current state of organic agriculture “Organic 3.0.”
“This is a concept we put out a year ago and it is resonating around the world,” Leu said. Organic 1.0 dates back to the 1920s and represents organic farming founders and visionaries, he said. Organic 2.0, beginning in the 1970s, represents the establishment of private standards, public regulations and global recognition. The current stage of organic farming is a time for market reinvention, widespread conversion and performance improvement.
Financial support for the 2016 OARS was provided by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture Organic Research and Extension Initiative and the Gaia Fund.
"The OARS conference was very successful in bringing national and international scholars and farmers together to present findings about the latest research and how it is advancing organic farming and ranching," said Diana Jerkins, OARF research director. "OFRF will continue to encourage and participate in events such as these to ensure current research, education, and extension efforts are widely disseminated."
Organic Farming Research Foundation is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.
The UC Kearney Agricultural REC is one of nine UC Agriculture and Natural Resources research and extension centers across the state of California. Ten acres at the 330-acre center are certified organic and available for organic research.