UCCE Sonoma County
University of California
UCCE Sonoma County

Posts Tagged: Van Butsic

CalLands maps cropland ownership across California

Two UCANR Cooperative Extension specialists have recently launched CalLands, a powerful online tool that can help users understand how land ownership impacts California's croplands.

To build the CalLands' interactive website, Luke Macaulay and Van Butsic — both assistant UC Cooperative Extension specialists based in UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management — combined satellite-generated maps of land cover created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with publicly available land ownership records. Next, they anonymized ownership identity and pulled data from all 58 California counties to include parcels of land larger than five acres. The result is a database that features 543,495 privately-owned properties across the state, creating a data-rich map of crops and ownership boundary lines in every county. The interactive map can be filtered by county to display characteristics of land ownership, percentages of private and public ownership, breakdowns by crop-type, and summaries of land-use statistics.

A screenshot of CalLands, and interactive online database that allows stakeholders to understand cropland use and ownership characteristics.

CalLands allows users to explore how crops are distributed within a county or across the state or understand how ownership size impacts how land is used. In a 2017 study on cropland ownership published in California Agriculture, Butsic and Macaulay discovered that the largest five percent of properties account for 50 percent of California cropland. The two created CalLands with the aim of helping a wide variety of stakeholders understand land cover and land use at the county and individual land ownership scale.

A crop of California almonds, grown on a plot of land that was previously home to grassland. Photo: Luke Macaulay

“CalLands helps expand people's understanding of the landscape and how farmers across the state are using their land,” Macaulay says.

The website tells the story in visual terms of the location of key crops over time, including water-intensive plants like alfalfa and almonds, and illustrates the locations and acreages of both annual and perennial crops. This information may be useful for those seeking to understand agricultural water use and expansion and change of crops over time. The team hopes that the tool will also help scientists conduct research that is beneficial to many agricultural stakeholders, such as UC Cooperative Extension specialists creating outreach programming, county officials proposing regulations, and resource managers hoping to understand cropland production.

Currently, CalLands features cropland data from 2013-2017, allowing users to toggle between these annual datasets. Macaulay and Butsic plan for future versions of CalLands to include the capability of producing graphs to help users understand how crop planting changes over time as farming shifts and land changes hands. “We look forward to adding more features to CalLands,” Butsic said. “We want to implement changes on the site based on what Californians need.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 8:22 AM
Tags: land use (4), Luke Macaulay (2), Van Butsic (10)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Natural Resources

February 2019 news clips

Above average rainfall in February benefits strawberry crops in the Central Valley

(ABC 30) Reuben Contreras, Feb. 28

…Above average rainfall in February will help this year's harvest last through October. 
"It looks like it is in full bloom right now and it looks like it is going to rain. So we need the water as much as we can right now," said Michael Yang, University of California Cooperative Extension. 
He works with small farms and specialty crops in the Hmong community, including a strawberry field in Northeast Fresno near Willow and Behymer. 
Yang said the rain will add to the groundwater supply most farmers use to grow their crops plus it will help make the strawberries sweeter. 

https://abc30.com/society/above-average-rainfall-in-february-benefits-strawberry-crops-in-the-central-valley/5161437/

Ventura County Helps Keep Farming Alive in Southern California

(KCET) Teresa O'Connor, Feb. 27

…Connecting the community to the food system is vitally important for the health of individuals and the survival of local farms, according to Rose Hayden-Smith, Ph.D., who is the editor of the UCFoodObserver.com, an online publication for the University of California (UC). A long-term county resident, Hayden-Smith was previously sustainable food systems initiative leader for UC's Ag and Natural Resources division.

“Everyone eats: everyone is a stakeholder,” says Hayden-Smith. “I would like people to be engaged with the food system, and to advocate for positive change. Think about where your food comes from and ask critical questions about the supply chain. Meet people who are involved in producing, processing, distributing and preparing the food you eat. Honor them with questions about and interest in their work.”

https://www.kcet.org/shows/la-foodways/ventura-county-helps-keep-farming-alive-in-southern-california

Gene-edited animal creators look beyond US market

(Nature) Heidi Ledford, Feb. 20

…It isn't always easy to pick up a research project and move it to a different country. About ten years ago, difficulties finding funding for his research drove animal geneticist James Murray to move his transgenic goat project from the University of California in Davis to Brazil. The goats were engineered to produce milk that contained lysozyme, an enzyme with antibiotic properties. Murray hoped that the milk could help to protect children from diarrhoea.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00600-4

Newly discovered nematode threatens key crops

Peach root-knot nematode-infected almond tree in a two-year-old orchard. Photo by Andreas Westphal

(Farm Press) Logan Hawkes, Feb. 20

“The arrival of this nematode (Meloidogyne floridensis) in California is a little surprising — it has the potential to infect many of California's economically important crops,” says UCCE Kern County Advisor Mohammad Yaghmour. “Root samples had been collected from an almond orchard in Merced County last year, and confirmed at the California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA) Nematology Lab as M. floridensis.”

Yaghmour facilitated the second discovery of the nematode in a Kern County orchard a month after the first was uncovered in an almond orchard in Merced County.

https://www.farmprogress.com/tree-nuts/newly-discovered-nematode-threatens-key-crops

Ag Innovations Conference and Trade Show returning to Santa Maria for third event

(Santa Ynez Valley News) Mike Hodgson, Feb. 19

The Ag Innovations Conference and Trade Show will return to Santa Maria for its third event, this time focusing on biologicals, on March 5. The deadline for discounted early registration is next week.

… Considering the growing interest in biologicals and the demand for sustainably produced food, organizers selected topics on biocontrol agents, biostimulants and botanical and microbial pesticides and fungicides for the third conference, said organizer Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension adviser for entomology and biologicals.

“The use of biocontrol agents, biopesticides, biostimulants and other such tools is gradually increasing in our efforts to produce with sustainable practices,” Dara said.

https://syvnews.com/business/agriculture/ag-innovations-conference-and-trade-show-returning-to-santa-maria/article_a8b9804e-46de-5938-a664-f646d51fa0c1.html

Almond Update: Orchard Recycling Research Showing Strong Results

(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, Feb. 14

Orchard recycling research has been going on for over 10 years. UC Cooperative Extension Advisor Brent Holtz has been leading the project and said they continue to see positive results. There is an expense that comes with the practice but Holtz said their longest trial is making that cost back in added production.

http://agnetwest.com/almond-update-orchard-recycling-research

NASA tech helps agriculture

(Hanford Sentinel) Julissa Zavala, Feb 13,

…In keeping with the expo's theme, “Harvesting Technology,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visited the International Agri-Center in Tulare and spoke about how technology originally developed for space exploration is now being repurposed and used to improve numerous aspects of agriculture around the world.

…The measurement, also taken with LIDAR, can be used to calculate precise irrigation needs of plants and crops. Bridenstine said this pilot program, in partnership with the University of California Cooperative Extension and other agencies, is only being used in California.

https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/nasa-tech-helps-agriculture/article_def7a974-938d-55cb-966f-f3e603dc942a.html

UC Davis, wine industry cultivate relationship

(Fruit Growers News) Robin Derieux, Feb. 13

Under the hot summer sun of the San Joaquin Valley, just south of Merced, Miguel Guerrero of The Wine Group is trying a new high-wire act. In collaboration with University of California-Davis Cooperative Extension, Roduner Ranch vineyard manager Guerrero is experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon vines and other varieties elevated by a single wire at 66 inches – plantings that are 2-3 feet higher than the traditional winegrape canopy.

…“The beauty of the high-wire system is that the fruit zone is really defined – a solid wall of grape clusters – and the pruning machine can just zip right alongside the vines,” said Kaan Kurtural, a UC Davis Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist. “We can carry more crop, and with mechanical leaf removal, we get that sun-dappled exposure that feeds the fruit. Less leaf cover means the vines require less water, and the grape quality is much better.”

https://fruitgrowersnews.com/article/uc-davis-wine-industry-cultivate-relationship

There's Still So Much We Need To Learn About Weed—And Fast

(Wired) Matt Simon, Feb. 11

… But late last month, UC Berkeley opened the Cannabis Research Center to start tackling some of these social and environmental unknowns. With its proximity to the legendary growing regions of Northern California, the center can start to quantify this historically secretive industry, measuring its toll on the environment and looking at how existing rules affect the growers themselves. The goal is to create a body of data to inform future policies, making cannabis safer for all.

… So for the past few years Van Butsic, codirector of the Cannabis Research Center, and his colleagues have been sifting through satellite images to pinpoint those unaccounted-for farms. “We have an army of undergraduates who look at high-resolution imagery and digitize how big the farms are, how many plants we can see,” Butsic says. Because cannabis plants love light, growers usually keep them out in the open. The researchers still miss many trespass growers, however, who tend to hide their plants in the brush to avoid detection.

https://www.wired.com/story/theres-still-so-much-we-need-to-learn-about-weed

Cultured meat: Good or bad, promise or peril?

 (Agweek) By Jonathan Knutson, Feb. 11

…To Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California-Davis Extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics, proponents of cell-based meat are "overhyping the environmental benefits" and providing an incomplete, misleading case for it.

https://www.agweek.com/business/agriculture/4568613-cultured-meat-good-or-bad-promise-or-peril

Broomrape Weed Spreads Quickly

(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, Feb. 8

By the time you see broomrape weed in your fields, it may be too late. There has been a resurgence of broomrape reports over the last decade in California. Retired UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Gene Miyao said although the parasitic weed is far from widespread, it could become so quickly. “The seeds are very small, the growth is primarily underground until it starts sending up shoots and then it very quickly starts setting seed,” he said. “A single seed attached to a tomato plant may send up half-a-dozen shoots, and each shoot might have 1,000 seeds or more.”

http://agnetwest.com/broomrape-weed-spreads-quickly/

New CA Bill Aims to Help Prepare Farmers for Extreme Weather, Changing Climate

(YubaNet) CalCAN, Feb. 7

The state and University of California have made significant investments in research to better understand agriculture's unique vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies to a changing climate, including in the state's recently released Fourth Climate Change Assessment. But not enough has been done to translate climate risks to the farm level and assist farmers in adapting to climate change.

…The bill would also fund trainings for technical assistance providers and agricultural organizations. According to a 2017 survey of 144 University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources staff, 88% of respondents believe it is important to incorporate climate change information into farm extension programs, but only 43% actually do. Respondents cited a lack of access to climate information relevant to farmers and expressed interest in education on technical tools and information resources.

https://yubanet.com/california/new-ca-bill-aims-to-help-prepare-farmers-for-extreme-weather-changing-climate/

Top administrators from UC ANR visit Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley Press

They were also briefed about UCCE and DREC projects, accomplishments and barriers by the directors, county advisors and CES representatives.

https://www.ivpressonline.com/news/local/agriculture/top-administrators-from-uc-anr-visit-imperial-valley/article_27a72db4-2a80-11e9-ac25-03956b66b2b4.html

Drought concerns loom for California farmers, ranchers despite recent rain

(KSBY) Dustin Klemann, Feb. 6

Even with the onslaught of rainy weather, the U.S. Drought Monitor states San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County remain in a moderate drought.

On Wednesday, the UC Cooperative Extension held a workshop in Solvang titled “Weather, Grass, and Drought: Planning for Uncertainty.”

“Leave it to a drought workshop to bring the rain,” Matthew Shapero joked. He is a livestock and range advisor for UCCE.

Shapero pointed out a call he received questioning the monitor's accuracy on a local level.

“He said ‘I really don't think the drought monitor accurately reflects what I am seeing on the ground.'”

… “We Californians are constantly accused of not having seasons. We do,” said Dr. Royce Larsen, an advisor of the UCCE. “We have fire, flood, mud, and drought. That's what we live with. And it's getting more and more so every year.”

https://ksby.com/news/local-news/2019/02/06/drought-concerns-loom-for-california-farmers-ranchers-despite-recent-rain

California legislators honor Summit's Steward Leader Award Winners

(California Economic Summit, Feb. 5

Monday, February 4 was a red-letter day for stewardship in California. Not only was the California Legislature celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year and “National Wear Red Day” as a symbol of support for women's heart health, but members of both houses also paused to recognize Glenda Humiston and Paul Granillo as recipients of the California Economic Summit's 2018 Steward Leader Awards.

http://caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/california-legislators-honor-summits-steward-leader-award-winners

Revealed: how big dairy pushed fattier milks into US schools

(Guardian) Jessica Glenza, Feb. 4

…A nutritionist for the University of California called the idea that chocolate milk could help athletes “preposterous”.

“Milk is a very healthy beverage, it's got protein, calcium, vitamin D – there's a reason we are mammals and grow up drinking milk,” said Lorrene Ritchie, the director of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California. “There's nothing about adding chocolate to it that's going to help an athlete.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/03/revealed-dairy-lobby-fat-milk-trump-sonny-perdue

California's water paradox

(Morning Ag Clips/The Conversation) Faith Kearns and Doug Parker, Feb. 4

These days, it seems everyone is looking for a silver bullet solution to California's drought. Some advocate increasing supply through more storage, desalination or water reuse. Others propose controlling demand through conservation or restriction of water use by urban and agricultural users.

https://www.morningagclips.com/californias-water-paradox

Camp Fire: When survival means shelter

(Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, Feb. 2

“We have to talk about it, as a community, to reduce vulnerability – especially for citizens who don't drive,” said Scott Stephens, co-director of UC-Berkeley's Center for Fire Research and Outreach. “In the Camp Fire, people didn't die because they wanted to stay. They had to stay. All of a sudden, the fire was at their front door step.”

For Australia's policy to work in California, residents must be physically and mental trained, said wildfire specialist Max A. Moritz with UC's Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources. In Australia, which conducts formal training,  “there is active participation from homeowners … so both homes and people are better prepared.”
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/02/02/wildfires-when-survival-means-shelter/

 

Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 6:25 PM

New Cannabis Research Center to explore environmental, social impacts of legalization

 

A new Cannabis Research Center will be directed by Van Butsic and Ted Grantham, both UC Cooperative Extension specialists in UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. (UC Berkeley graphic by Hulda Nelson)

Cannabis is unlike any other agricultural crop. Because of its circuitous history — once illegal to grow, and now legal but heavily regulated — cannabis has cast a unique footprint on the environment and the communities of farmers who grow it.

UC Berkeley's new Cannabis Research Center, announced today by a multidisciplinary team of faculty, will explore how cannabis production impacts the environment and society, and how these impacts will evolve under new regulations set in place by legalization.

While other research groups in the University of California are focusing on the individual and public health ramifications of cannabis, the center will be the first in the UC system to explore oft-overlooked dimensions of cannabis growth.

Berkeley News spoke with center co-directors Van Butsic and Ted Grantham, both assistant cooperative extension specialists in UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, to learn more about the state of cannabis production in California and the center's goals.

A small cannabis-producing farm in Northern California. Photo by Ted Grantham
Berkeley News:  What are some of the ecological and community impacts of cannabis production?

Ted Grantham: My research primarily focuses on the impacts of water use. These farms are taking water directly from streams or from groundwater wells connected to streams. Most farms are located in smaller watersheds, so even though the total amount of water taken can be small, it can have a big impact on streams that support sensitive species, such as salmon. Other potential ecological impacts relate to the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and habitat fragmentation from building roads and clearing trees.

The social scientists in the center are also concerned about equity and the sustainability of growing communities. Historically many growers would be characterized as small-scale, and there is concern that through this process of legalization, there is going to be a consolidation of cannabis production following models of industrial agriculture. We are trying to understand if there is a way to have cannabis cultivation continue to sustain local economies and rural communities, while limiting impacts to the environment.

How have legalization and associated regulations affected cannabis production so far?

Van Butsic: We're about a year into the formal legalization of recreational cannabis production and it has been a rocky start. There have been fewer participants in the market — producers — than were anticipated. Some growers appear to have gone out of production, many appear to remain in black market production and a relatively small subset of growers have gone through the process of compliance. And the grower community that has pursued legal production are very vocal about the issues and challenges facing their group. We have been trying to better understand what are the barriers to compliance and, ultimately, if there can be changes made in policies that can really help to catalyze this transition.

Tree leaves and needles are removed because they block sunlight needed for marijuana plants. Pacific Southwest Region 5 photo, via Flickr
Cannabis production makes up only a very small percentage of agriculture in California. Why is it important to study its impacts in particular? 

Van Butsic: This is a great system to study really big sustainability problems. How do we develop an agricultural system that's good for the environment and good for farmers?  And cannabis is a really interesting spot to look at it because the regulations enforcing cannabis are totally different than in the rest of agriculture, so it would be really interesting to see if we get different outcomes.

How do regulations differ between cannabis production and the rest of agriculture?

Van Butsic: Cultivators need to be permitted by the state water board, by local government and by state government to grow cannabis legally, and there are environmental regulations in all three of those levels that they need to comply with that require a higher order of environmental performance than most other agricultural crops.

So you think that understanding these regulations might help you apply them to other types of agriculture?

Van Butsic: Exactly. Agriculture has been notoriously difficult to regulate in the past, and this is a system where the regulators got the upper hand, and so it will be interesting to see how the producers respond, and if cannabis producers can be profitable and meet these super-high environmental performance measures, then perhaps there is knowledge and technology that can transfer from the cannabis industry to the rest of agriculture that can improve environmental performance of food production.

We are working on a big project right now where we are mapping where all the farms are after the latest regulatory changes. We want to know, if we could take down these barriers and everybody became compliant, what would that mean for local water budgets, environmental health and for the amount of cannabis that would be produced?

Ted Grantham: This is a rapidly changing industry, and no one really knows where it is headed. Everyone is playing catch up to a certain extent, and we believe researchers have an important role in bringing independent scientific information to conversations around cannabis policy.

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 at 2:18 PM
  • Author: Kara Manke
Tags: cannabis (4), Ted Grantham (5), Van Butsic (10)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Livestock grazing helps California tackle wildfire

California is searching for solutions to the wildfire crisis. Livestock ranchers believe they can help.

At the 14th Annual Rangeland Summit in Stockton in January, more than 150 ranchers, public land managers and representatives of non-profit organizations that work on land conservation gathered to share research and experiences that outline the value of cattle and sheep grazing on rangeland.

Since California was settled by Europeans, cattle and sheep have been an integral part of the state's history.

“Cattle can control brush,” said Lynn Huntsinger, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley in a presentation on brush management. She discussed research she conducted in the early 1980s to understand the role of cattle in Sierra Nevada brush control.

“We need to make livestock into firefighters,” she said. “Constant, deliberate, targeted grazing is needed for fire management.”

However, thick, overgrown brush requires intensive treatment that cattle can't handle on their own.

“You have to start from a good place,” Huntsinger said. “Start early, such as post fire. Plan when you have a blank slate for the forest you want.”

UCCE specialist Lynn Huntsinger suggested cattle may be viewed as a team of firefighters.

The tragic loss of homes and lives to wildfire in the last few years has increased the public demand for answers and action. However, the reasons for greater frequency and intensity of wildfire are not well understood.

“Is it climate change? Past decisions? Land use? What can we do about it?” asked UC Cooperative Extension specialist Van Butsic. “Research.”

At the summit, Butsic presented the results of his recent research to determine whether ownership has an impact upon whether land will burn. He and his colleagues studied the burn histories of forest and rangeland areas that were matched with the same characteristics, except in ownership.

“We controlled for all factors – slope, elevation, the likelihood of ignition,” he said. “We found that on forest and rangeland, federal ownership led to .3 percent higher fire probability. Ownership is dwarfing the impact of climate change.”

There is still much more research to be done.

“We can't say the impact of grazed vs. ungrazed land,” Butsic said. “We also need to look at fire severity as well as fire frequency.”

Research by UCCE advisor Laura Snell and her colleagues showed that rangeland doesn't need to be 'rested' following a fire.

The UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Modoc County, Laura Snell, shared preliminary results at the rangeland summit that provide information for landowners making decisions about returning livestock to burned areas.

She and a team of colleagues studied the fire history of U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management rangeland in Lassen and Modoc counties where fires had burned through 5, 10 and 15 years before. The dataset included information about whether the land was “rested” for two years after the fire, or whether livestock were returned to graze soon after the blaze.

The scientists set out to determine whether fire intensity and climate at the site (measured by soil temperature and moisture) had an impact on the future diversity of plant species and growth of cheat grass, an invasive species that animals don't like. 

“No matter what we did, graze or not graze, after 15 years, the species richness stayed the same,” Snell said. “Grazing was not the driving factor.”

The results are also important in terms of fuels accumulation and the prevention of future wildfires.

“Federal land managers have typically used a policy to rest the land for two years after a fire. During the interval, the fuels sometimes burn again and livestock producers have to wait another two years,” Snell said. “Our research showed you don't necessarily need to rest the land after the fire.”

Sheep and cattle grazing can reduce the fuel load for a potential wildfire. (Photo: Dan Macon)

Two ranchers who were recently impacted by wildfire presented their experiences and perspectives during the rangeland summit.

Mike Williams of Diamond W Cattle Company had livestock on 6,500 acres of leased land in Ventura County when the Thomas Fire ignited on Dec. 4, 2017. Over more than a month, the fire burned 281,893 acres and consumed 1,000 structures.

Williams had stockpiled feed on certain pastures by limiting grazing, which during the fire turned into hazardous fuel.

Adam Cline, rangeland manager for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Preserve in the Capay Valley, had a similar experience when the County Fire burned more than 90,000 acres in western Yolo and eastern Napa counties in June and July 2018. To reserve feed for later, Cline had left 2,500 pounds per acre of residual dry matter on grazing land as a drought mitigation strategy. He said he plans to reconsider this grazing plan.

“Now, cattle feed looks like a lot of fuel,” he said.

Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 8:40 AM
Tags: cattle (33), Laura Snell (3), Lynn Huntsinger (7), rangeland (55), sheep (46), Van Butsic (10), wildfire (148)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

December news clips

Keith Gilless, left, and Maggi Kelly, second from right, discussed wildfire at the Commonwealth Club on Dec. 4.

Franz Niederholzer - 2019 New Year's Profile

(Appeal-Democrat), Dec 31

https://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/franz-niederholzer---new-year-s-profile/article_071c961e-0d8a-11e9-b7a9-2ba8813a8968.html

Keeping Up with Navel Infections

(Dairy Herd Management) Emre Gürdal and Noelia Silva del Rio, Dec. 31

https://www.dairyherd.com/guest-author/emre-gurdal-and-noelia-silva-del-rio-university-california-cooperative-extension

How Do Wildfires Start?

(Live Science) Donavyn Coffey, Dec. 28

…In other words, "a source [of heat] hits receptive fuel that's dry enough to burn," said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire analyst for the University of California Cooperative Extension forestry program in Northern California. In the right conditions, those three factors are all it takes to set a wildfire in motion.

…However, ignition is only the beginning. For a spark to grow into a sustained wildfire, there must be a perfect combination of factors, such as "dry conditions and really strong winds," Quinn-Davidson told Live Science. And because of climate change, dry conditions are lasting longer and, in turn, causing longer fire seasons.

https://www.livescience.com/64378-how-do-wildfires-start.html

Analyzing The Use of Selective Dry Cow Therapy

(Dairy Herd Management) Fernanda C. Ferreira and Emmanuel Okello, Dec 27

https://www.dairyherd.com/guest-author/fernanda-c-ferreira-and-emmanuel-okello-university-california-cooperative-extension

Private woodlands lost to California wildfire — and may not be replaced

(SF Chronicle) Peter Fimrite Dec. 25,

…It costs about $400 per acre to reforest land, said Bill Stewart, a forestry specialist at UC Berkeley who has studied forest restoration programs after fires.

“A lot of (small property owners) ... don't have the cash or professionals to do the job,” he said. They “take a big financial hit when their forests are caught in a wildfire.”

…Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California Cooperative Extension, said wholesale clearing is not always necessary. The rush to clear the land, he said, can result in healthy trees being cut down.

“Many trees can survive pretty bad crown scorch, so there's generally no urgency to get them out, or there shouldn't be, anyway,” said Moritz, an adjunct professor at UC Santa Barbara. “This is especially true of species that resprout, like several of the oaks and also redwoods.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/Private-woodlands-lost-to-California-wildfire-13489574.php

Get to know your wasps: University of California entomologist addresses misconceptions

(Press Democrat) Kate Frey, Dec. 21

Rachael Long, a University of California Cooperative Extension entomologist and crop adviser, recently told me a story about three wasps that people frequently encounter around their homes and often have misconceptions about.

https://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/9077426-181/get-to-know-your-wasps

Gene Editing Finds its Way to the Farm

(Dairy Herd Management) Clinton Griffiths, Dec. 21

…Alison Van Eenennaam, animal geneticist, University of California-Davis, says edits that create polled herds will soon be common.

“It's kind of like a pair of molecular scissors, if you will, that you can tell to go and cut the DNA at a very precise location in the genome,” Van Eenennaam explains. “What that enables you to do is go in and very precisely alter one particular gene of the thousands of genes that make up the genome, and you can introduce useful genetic variations.”

https://www.dairyherd.com/article/gene-editing-finds-its-way-farm

Farm Bill Set to Bring Several Benefits to California Growers

(AgNet West) Brian German, Dec. 19

...“There's some really good stuff in it for California, I mean first of all, getting a farm bill is fantastic,” said Vice President of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston. “Some really good things for beginning farmers and ranchers, and veterans' efforts in ag.  One thing that's really potentially exciting for California in the rural development title is increasing   the eligibility of communities up to 50,000 for some of the programs.”

http://agnetwest.com/farm-bill-benefits-california-growers

Gene-edited farm animals are coming. Will we eat them?

(Washington Post) Carolyn Y. Johnson, Dec. 17

...“Right now. This is exciting, right this minute,” animal geneticist Alison Van Eenennaam said as she waited for a tiny blob of a fetus to materialize on a laptop screen on a recent afternoon at the Beef Barn, part of the University of California at Davis's sprawling agricultural facilities for teaching and research.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/12/17/feature/gene-edited-farm-animals-are-coming-will-we-eat-them

Commentary: Is Atascadero prepared?

(Atascadero  News) Ray Weymann, Dec. 14 

…But often, even 10 feet from a house takes one into a neighbor's property. Whether this means mandating more aggressive tree and brush clearing, and reevaluation of building codes for new and existing structures, is something the new council should consider, availing themselves with input from our local fire department but also from people like Jack Cohen. Another wildfire expert, Max Moritz, suggests that governments must be more aggressive in not allowing development in areas especially vulnerable to wildfire.

https://atascaderonews.com/article/commentary-is-atascadero-prepared

Ceres Imaging unveils cumulative stress index

 (Successful Farming) Laurie Bedord, Dec. 14 

...“Findings over the last four years show that the average Ceres Imaging conductance measurement from its imagery over the season has provided the best correlation with applied water,” says Blake Sanden, a Kern County University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser. “While there's no perfect predictor of final yield, Ceres Imaging aerial sensing of canopy plant stress has a significant relationship with final yield.”

https://www.agriculture.com/news/technology/ceres-imaging-unveils-cumulative-stress-index 

New Farm Bill Provides Funds For Research In California ‘Ag,' But No Big Boons

(Capital Public Radio) Julia Mitric, Dec. 13

…"What's fascinating about the Farm Bill is, after all that hyper-partisan debate … it's really a lot of the same of what we already had," said Glenda Humiston, vice president of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Humiston is pleased that California will get an increase of $25 million a year for research of specialty crops, agricultural jargon for fruits, vegetables and nuts, as opposed to commodity crops like soybeans, corn and wheat. Those federal grants will cover many areas, from adapting farming to the effects of climate change to finding cures for California's many invasive pests, Humiston said.

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/12/13/new-farm-bill-provides-funds-for-research-in-california-ag-but-no-big-boons/

Can California Improve Forest Management And Prevent Wildfires Without Going Broke?

(Capital Public Radio) Ezra Romero, Dec. 13

...But can California expand programs like forest-thinning and controlled burns and manage its forests on the cheap?

UC Berkeley forestry specialist Bill Stewart says yes. “There's certain areas that it is going to cost you $700 an acre, but other acres you can treat for $50 or $100 an acre,” Stewart said.

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/12/14/can-california-improve-forest-management-and-prevent-wildfires-without-going-broke

Technology advances impact production efficiency

(AgriNews) Martha Blum, Dec. 13

“I'm passionate about genetics and sticking up for technology because if we don't stand up for it, we're not going to have access to it,” said Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis.

“The livestock industry doesn't have access to GMOs because of the debate around plant GMOs,” Van Eenennaam said during a presentation at the 2018 American Agri-Women Convention.

http://www.agrinews-pubs.com/news/technology-advances-impact-production-efficiency/article_09c46363-7755-543d-9048-080f319605fe.html 

Lindcove squeezes 100 citrus varieties into one tasting

(Sun Gazette) Dec. 12

The University of California citrus research center swings open its doors this week to give farmers and the public the opportunity to view and taste more than 100 varieties of citrus.

http://www.thesungazette.com/article/business/2018/12/12/lindcove-squeezes-100-citrus-varieties-into-one-tasting

Can Rakes Save Forests? Yes, As Long As You Have A Drip Torch In The Other Hand, UC ANR Says

(Sierra Sun-Times) Susie Kocher, Rob York, and Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Dec. 12 

https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/16733-can-rakes-save-forests-yes-as-long-as-you-have-a-drip-torch-in-the-other-hand-uc-anr-says

Have shears, will travel

(California Bountiful) Ching Lee

…Sheep owners, particularly those with small flocks, have had trouble finding shearers for years—and the smaller their flock, the harder it is to get someone to shear for them because shearers are paid by the number of animals they shear, said John Harper, a UC livestock and natural resources advisor who has run the annual shearing program for nearly 25 years.

http://www.californiabountiful.com/features/article.aspx?arID=2199

Could legalizing cannabis help the environment?

(Physics World) Kate Ravilious, Dec. 11

Using high resolution satellite imagery for the years 2012 and 2016, Van Butsic  from the University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues found a boom in cultivation of cannabis in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties. By zooming right in, the researchers could identify the distinctive shape of the cannabis plants, the regular pattern in which the crop is planted, and the greenhouses perched in unusual places.

...“The chances of environmental damage are much greater in these regions because of the high potential for erosion, which threatens water quality, high potential for using water directly from headwaters, and the need to build roads to access these farms,” says Butsic.

https://physicsworld.com/a/could-legalizing-cannabis-help-the-environment/

What Does It Take To Defend Your Home Against A Mega Wildfire Like The Camp Fire? Here's How One Couple Survived

(Capital Public Radio) Ezra David Romero, Dec. 11

...Earlier this year, University of California system forest advisor Yana Valachovic toured the Carr Fire burn area in Redding.

“What surprised me there was how many of the stucco homes were lost and they were surrounded by green lawn,” Valachovic recalled. “What the mechanism of entry was is that they had a ring of vegetation right around the outside of their house.”

Susie Kocher, a forest adviser for the Lake Tahoe region with the UC Cooperative Extension, often works with homeowners that live within the Angora Fire burn area. That blaze destroyed about 250 homes in Lake Tahoe in 2008. A decade later, Kocher said people still aren't properly preparing their homes.

“There's still a lot of flammable plants planted right under picture windows,” Kocher said, adding that people have almost set themselves up for failure, “perhaps in the mistaken belief that they are kind of safe now because there's no big trees.”

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/12/10/what-does-it-take-to-defend-your-home-against-a-mega-wildfire-like-the-camp-fire-heres-how-one-couple-survived

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2018/dec/11/what-does-it-take-defend-your-home-against-mega-wi

Wildfire scientists brace for hotter, more flammable future as Paradise lies in ashes

(CNN) Bill Weir, Dec. 10

…"Well, my colleague Katharine Hayhoe says climate change is like gravity," says Dr. Faith Kearns. "Climate change doesn't really care if you believe in it or not. It's reality. We have gravity, we have climate change."

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/10/us/california-wildfires-climate-weir-wxc/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/12/10/paradise-california-wildfire-climate-change-weir-pkg-vpx.cnn

Are Your Bananas at Risk?

(BYU Radio) Top of Mind, Dec. 10

Guest: Norman C. Ellstrand, Distinguished Professor of Genetics, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside

...Here in the US, there's only one kind of banana in the supermarket – sweet, yellow, no seeds, about as long as your hand. It's a variety called Cavendish and it dominates the international banana market. Which turns out to be a big problem.

https://www.byuradio.org/episode/b36d0128-3422-4c37-8248-a705f0536d82/top-of-mind-with-julie-rose-negotiation-deceit-forecasting-earthquakes-measuring-pain-bananas-risk

Jeff Mitchell: Conservation No-Till Is One Option For Water Conservation

(Cal Ag Today) Patrick Cavanaugh, Dec. 10

Jeff Mitchell is a Cropping Systems Specialist at UC Davis, based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier. He has devoted his 19 years to improving nitrogen and water use efficiencies in food, feed, fuel and fiber in no-till cropping systems.

https://californiaagtoday.com/jeff-mitchell-conservation-no-till-one-option-water-conservation/

Solano 4-H schedules Fairfield open house

(Fairfield Daily Republic) Susan Hiland, Dec. 9

The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program will host a 4-H open house from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on the first floor of the University of California Cooperative Extension Office, 501 Texas St.

https://www.dailyrepublic.com/all-dr-news/solano-news/fairfield/solano-4-h-schedules-fairfield-open-house

California State Fair Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition opens Jan. 8

(Lake Co News) Dec. 8

…The California State Fair is proud to announce the head judge for the 2019 competition, Mr. Paul Vossen. Vossen will employ his expertise and experience at the California State Fair olive oil judging to lead the team of 15 Judges and ensure a fair and ethical judging process.
With more than 30 years of experience in the field as a University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor in Sonoma County, Paul Vossen offers practical advice to large commercial ventures and hobby farmers alike for clients around the world.

http://www.lakeconews.com/index.php/news/business/59141-california-state-fair-extra-virgin-olive-oil-competition-opens-jan-8

Getting the Facts Straight on Dairies

(California Dairy) Dec. 7

The inaugural California Dairy Sustainability Summit in Sacramento last month was a big hit.  Conference presentations not only focused on what California dairy producers can do to increase their sustainability efforts, but also on how producers can better share their stories and correct some of the common misconceptions that have been circulating the public.  Check out this video with Frank Mitloehner, Air Quality Specialist from the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, who shared the facts, and read more about it in California Dairy Magazine. 

http://www.californiadairymagazine.com/2018/12/07/getting-the-facts-straight-on-dairies

Why Californians Were Drawn Toward the Fire Zones

(Wall St Journal) Jeffrey Ball, Dec. 7

…Lax building codes are at the base of the problem. Even in California, which has some of the toughest such rules in the country, they often aren't adequate or adequately enforced. The codes often dictate the use of fire-retardant materials in house construction but typically say nothing about how a development must be situated on the landscape—and that can help determine whether that development will burn in a fire, says Max Moritz, a cooperative-extension wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “So the developers are able to come in, propose something, and often, without too much oversight, walk away after having built something in a dangerous place,” he says. “And we pick up the tab.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-californians-were-drawn-toward-the-fire-zones-1544202053?mod=e2tw

Cutting down Christmas trees on public land is good for forest management: expert

(KTVU) Lisa Fernandez, Dec. 7

A forestry advisor for the University of California is a big proponent of cutting down Christmas trees on public land as an inexpensive, family-friendly holiday ritual and a way to thin the forests of excessive small trees. 

Susie Kocher, who works for the UC Cooperative Extension, has been trekking to the U.S. Forest Service land for the last two decades -- saw and $10 permit in hand -- to cut down her own white fir.  

http://www.ktvu.com/news/cutting-down-christmas-trees-on-public-land-is-good-for-forest-management-expert

http://www.fox10phoenix.com/facebook-instant/cutting-down-christmas-trees-on-public-land-is-good-for-forest-management-expert

https://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/16681-can-harvesting-california-christmas-trees-help-the-forest 

Researchers study how to enrich soil

 (Appeal-Democrat) Ruby Larson, Dec. 6

Soil health and research on using cover crops were discussed by farmers, researchers and others at the University of California Cooperative Extension's Soil Health and Cover Crop Field Day on Thursday morning.

Dozens gathered for a presentation on the Healthy Soils Project, which the local UCCE is participating in. The project focuses on managing soil health, changes in soil carbon and reducing greenhouse gases.

…Amber Vinchesi and Sarah Light, agronomy adviser for UCCE Sutter-Yuba, gave a demonstration on how they would test for greenhouse gasses during the course of the project.

https://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/researchers-study-how-to-enrich-soil/article_5e642f10-fa14-11e8-b2fe-779419738557.html

Climate Extremes: the New Norm

(Santa Barbara Independent) Laura Capps, Dec. 6

...“We need to change our perspective to one of co-existing with fire instead of fighting it,” said Dr. Max Moritz, a University of California wildfire scientist. “Fire isn't going away anytime soon. We need to locate and build our communities accordingly so that we reduce our vulnerability over the long term to this essential and inevitable natural process that is wildfire.”

https://www.independent.com/news/2018/dec/06/climate-extremes-new-norm

Will More Permits To Chop Down Christmas Trees Help Thin California Forests And Prevent Wildfires? (AUDIO)

(Capital Public Radio) Ezra David Romero, Dec 5

In a patch of forest a few miles from Lake Tahoe's shore, Susie Kocher and her family are crunching through the snow to find a Christmas tree.

…"It's a great win-win solution,” said Kocher, who is also a forest advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension for the Lake Tahoe area. “You get the public out in the forest, you do good work reducing the density of the trees."

http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/12/05/will-more-permits-to-chop-down-christmas-trees-help-thin-california-forests-and-prevent-wildfires/

Wildland fire research and impacts on nut orchards

(Western Farm Press) Logan Hawkes, Dec 5

..So far, tree nut damages or other agricultural losses in the deadly Camp Fire are unknown according to UCANR Sustainable Orchard Farm Advisor Luke Milliron in Butte County.

https://www.farmprogress.com/tree-nuts/wildland-fire-research-and-impacts-nut-orchards

Fruit tree owners get free lesson in pruning

(The Californian) John Karlik, Dec 5

Even those with the greenest thumbs may need some guidance when it comes to pruning trees. The University of California Cooperative Extension office is here to help again with its annual fruit tree pruning demonstrations on Dec. 12 and 13.

Starting at noon both days in the orchard of the cooperative's office, ag adviser Mohammad Yaghmour will show attendees how to trim back trees including apple, apricot, cherry and almond as well as grapevines. 

https://www.bakersfield.com/entertainment/fruit-tree-owners-get-free-lesson-in-pruning/article_5ddb2cb8-f1c9-11e8-a83b-b717e64f0168.html

Camp Fire Impacted Local Prescribed Fire Training

(My Mother Lode) Tracey Petersen, Dec 5

...The 20 participants were to get hands-on fire experience to better understand the art and science of fire management and ecology. However, organizer and Natural Resources Advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension – Central Sierra Susan Kocher relays that due to the explosion of the Camp Fire no flames could be ignited for the training because the required back up resources were called to battle the mega blaze. She adds it is an ongoing problem regarding using prescribed burns for fire prevention.  “I really think it shows just our exact dilemma. It's hard to get ahead of disasters because you're busy responding to disasters,” advised Kocher. “So, we just need to do everything we can to try and burn at all times of year to try to get ahead of these tragic wildfires that are happening.”

https://www.mymotherlode.com/news/local/513777/camp-fire-impacted-local-prescribed-fire-training.html

The New Abnormal: A Town Hall on California's Fires and the Future

(Commonwealth Club) Dec. 4, 2018

… To address some of these critical and urgent questions, please join The Commonwealth Club for a special free town hall on California's fires and what can be done in the short and long term to prepare for them. 

Guests:

J. Keith Gilless, Chair, California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection; Professor of Forest Economics, UC Berkeley

Thom Porter, Chief of Strategic Planning, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)

Kurtis Alexander, Water, Wildfire and Climate Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

Maggi Kelly, Professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Environmental Science, Policy and Management 

https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/archive/video/new-abnormal-town-hall-californias-fires-and-future

Valley's Gold: Food Safety

(Valley's Gold) Dec. 4

Learn about the economic engine that drives the region, Agriculture. With host Ryan Jacobsen

UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Specialist Elizabeth Lopez shares food safety tips and tools in this PBS episode starting at the 18:32 mark.

https://www.pbs.org/video/valleys-gold-food-safety-bqfgv4

San Diego County wants to build 10,000 new homes in fire-prone areas

(San Diego Union Tribune) Joshua Emerson Smith, Dec. 3

…What these building codes and other rules don't take into account is whether a particular project should be built at all, said Max Moritz, a cooperative extension specialist in wildfire at the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara.

“There's all these hazards that we use to guide our building and our zoning from floods to landslides, and fire is not one of them,” Moritz said.

“In the end, the taxpayer is left holding the bill for all this,” he added. “The developer may do a really good job at designing and convincing everybody that it's the right thing to do, but after they walk away, the public is left doing fuels maintenance for decades, and the public picks up the bill when there's a disaster.”

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/public-safety/sd-me-wildfire-housing-protection-20181203-story.html

California is managing its forests — but is the president managing its federal lands?

(NBC News) James Rainey, Dec. 2

...Scott Stephens, a University of California, Berkeley professor of fire science, said the fire cataclysms of the last two years seem to have ended a long era of inattention.

“We will start to change the trajectory,” he said, “so we won't have tragedies like we had in Paradise.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/california-managing-its-forests-president-managing-its-federal-lands-n942581

Subfreezing temperatures predicted for early Monday in Modesto area

(Modesto Bee) Deke Farrow, Dec. 2

...The University of California Cooperative Extension in Sacramento County offers more

Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2019 at 1:23 PM

Next 5 stories | Last story

 
E-mail
 

University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
133 Aviation Blvd Suite 109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403  Phone: 707.565.2621  Fax: 707.565.2623
Office Hours:  M-F, 8am-Noon & 1pm-4pm

Like us on Facebook: UCCE Sonoma                        Follow us on Twitter @UCCESonoma 

Webmaster Email: klgiov@ucanr.edu