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UC water institute announces 2017 grant recipients

The UC California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR) has announced the recipients of six grants to address the most critical water issues in the state. For this program, the Institute leverages funds it receives from the Water Resources Research Act of 1964 through the Department of Interior.

CIWR, which is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, facilitates collaborative research and outreach on water issues across California's academic institutions and with international, federal, state, regional, nonprofit, and campus communities.

Small grants to support initial work will be dispersed to the following projects (click the headline for more information):

Farmer Jim Morris on an alfalfa field being flooded for groundwater recharge.

Suitability of alfalfa for winter groundwater recharge
Helen Dahlke, professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis
One proposed solution for recharging overdrawn aquifers is flooding farmland during the rainy season. Optimizing agricultural groundwater banking for specific crops can be challenging. The goal of this project is to better understand how alfalfa, which is grown year-round, responds to winter flooding.

Fish habitat response to streamflow augmentation
Ted Grantham, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
Declining water levels can degrade or eliminate fish habitat during California's summer season. Storing water off-channel during the rainy season can improve flow during the summer. The study is designed to gain a better understanding of the relationship between stream flow and habitat.

Remote sensing of turfgrass response to irrigation
Amir Haghverdi, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, UC Riverside
Turfgrass is common in urban landscapes and provides valuable recreation areas and ecosystem services. This project will help determine the best irrigation strategies for common turfgrass species.

UC Santa Cruz professor Eric Palkovacs in the field.

Habitat restoration impacts on water management
Eric Palkovacs, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz
The natural conditions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have been changed by habitat alteration and non-native predacious fish introduction. This project will examine the interplay between altered habitat and predatory fish, and how they impact native salmon populations.

Evaluating water conservation policy in California
Leah Stokes, professor in the Department of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara
During the recent drought, California required that on-average urban water districts conserve 25 percent of their water. While some districts were successful, others failed to meet their target. This project will examine how variation in policy – pricing, messaging and penalties – and drought severity affected water conservation.

Sacramento State geology professor Amelia Vankeuren and graduate students collect samples at the American River.

Groundwater dynamics after California drought
Amelia Vankeuren, professor in the Department of Geology, Sacramento State University
As part of California's groundwater management act, some basins were designated as high management priorities. This project will characterize groundwater using age, location and temperature. This information will be valuable for stakeholders creating a groundwater sustainability plan.

Posted on Monday, March 13, 2017 at 9:27 AM
Tags: CIWR (1), grants (8), water (1)

UC ANR scientists get $450,000 to study pesticide alternatives

UC ANR scientists get $450,000 to study pesticide alternatives

This Salinas Valley cauliflower field has been ravaged by root maggot.
Two scientists in University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources have received grants from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for research to improve crop yields and reduce the risks associated with pesticide use in California.

The root maggot, a pest of cole crops, can wipe out an entire field of broccoli or cauliflower by tunneling through the plants’ roots. With a new $302,542 grant from the Department of Pesticide Regulation, Shimat Joseph, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County, will study ways growers can protect their high-value crops from this persistent pest.

“In the Salinas Valley, cabbage maggot infestation in a field can exceed 90 percent,” said Joseph, who specializes in integrated pest management.

Root maggots are less than 1/3 of an inch and tunnel through the crop roots.
To control the maggots, growers usually apply organophosphate insecticides, such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon, to the soil, but those chemicals don’t kill all of the destructive insects and may contaminate waterways.  In hopes of finding more sustainable control methods, Joseph will study preventive tactics including multicropping, planting less-susceptible cultivars, changing cultural practices and using lower-risk pesticides.

Joseph, who specializes in entomology, will evaluate the susceptibility of broccoli when it is planted next to other various crops such as turnip, lettuce, cauliflower or cabbage, to see if the neighboring crop influences the broccoli field’s attractiveness to cabbage maggots. He will also evaluate different broccoli and cauliflower varieties for their resistance or tolerance to the maggots and will look into the role planting date in determining a plant’s susceptibility to the pest.

Lynn Epstein, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, received a $153,289 Department of Pesticide Regulation grant to study alternatives to methyl bromide for strawberry nursery fumigation.

California produces more than a billion strawberry runner plants every year, with a total annual value of approximately $60 million. For the past 50 years, fumigating the soil with methyl bromide before planting has been the most effective way to keep soil-borne pathogens, nematodes and weeds from overwhelming strawberry nursery plants. In recent years, though, methyl bromide has become increasingly restricted, with the intention of eventually phasing it out entirely.

UC scientists are studying alternatives to methyl bromide to keep soil-borne pathogens, nematodes and weeds from overwhelming strawberry nursery plants.
Epstein plans to examine the effectiveness of fumigating soil with Pic-Clor 60 (1,3-dichloropropene/chloropicrin) and two non-chemical control methods: anaerobic soil disinfestation and  crop rotation. Rotations between strawberry plantings and wheat and peas with compost have shown promise in suppressing soil pathogens.

Anaerobic soil disinfestation integrates heat from solarization and oxygen deprivation from flooding, according to Epstein.

“We’ll incorporate a relatively inexpensive carbon source into the topsoil, irrigate it to field capacity, and then cover the amended soil with a plastic tarp,” Epstein said. The anaerobic byproducts that build up are toxic to pathogens, but those byproducts will degrade rapidly after the tarp is removed.”

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Tags: broccoli (1), cauliflower (1), grants (8), methyl bromide (1), root maggot (1), strawberry (1)

USDA Funds Available for Value-Added Producers - Application Deadline Is October 15

USDA Rural Development has published the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. The Application deadline is October 15th, 2012. In this program agricultural producers or producer groups may apply for either a feasibility study grant (maximum $100,000) or a working capital grant ($300,000 maximum).  Eligible activities must be related to the processing and/or marketing of valued-added agricultural products.

There is a matching funds requirement of at least $1 for every $1 in grant funds provided by the Agency (matching funds plus grant funds must equal proposed total project costs.

Grants will be awarded competitively for either planning or working capital projects directly related to the processing and/or marketing of value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals. Applications that support aspects of regional strategic planning, cooperative development, sustainable farming, and local and regional food systems are encouraged. Proposals must demonstrate economic viability and sustainability in order to compete for funding.

For additional information and application procedures, visit the USDA website.  http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html.  The USDA Rural Development’s VAPG liaison for California is Karen Firestein; her office is in Davis and her contact information is: 530 792-5829, Karen.firestsein@ca.usda.gov.

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 4:57 PM
Tags: funding (1), grants (8), small farms (1), value-added (1)

Rustici endowment funds UC projects for rangelands, cattle

The Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Research Endowment funds its first projects
Eight University of California research and outreach projects to address beef cattle and rangeland management issues have been funded through the Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Research Endowment.

The projects address water quality, reproduction, animal welfare, greenhouse gases, weed control, and extending knowledge. The endowment is administered through the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES). Priorities are established by an advisory committee comprised of range cattle industry representatives and UC academics.

“The goal of this program is to promote collaboration and strengthen the continuum between range cattle producers, Cooperative Extension specialists and other research faculty, and county-based Cooperative Extension advisors,” said DeeDee Kitterman, CA&ES executive director of research and outreach. “Ultimately, this helps provide practical answers to critical issues and challenges facing the industry.”

Funding has been made available for this problem-solving research and outreach by endowment earnings from a gift to the university from the estate of Russell Rustici, a Lake County cattle rancher who passed away in 2008.

“Mr. Rustici worked closely with our scientists for many years,” said Neal Van Alfen, CA&ES dean. “His legacy is an enduring commitment to university research that will help us address issues of concern to the California cattle industry for a long time to come.”

This is the first year grant awards are being conferred to UC researchers through an annual competitive process. Grants for this year’s projects totaled more than $339,400. Three of the projects may receive second-year funding totaling nearly $105,000. Projects and lead researchers include:

  • Statewide coordination of scientific research information regarding livestock grazing and microbial water quality (Edward R. Atwill, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
  • Effects of road transport on physiological stress and pathogen shedding in adult beef cows (Xunde Li, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, UC Davis)
  • Development and testing of a recombinant heat shock protein vaccine for epizootic bovine abortion, commonly known as “foothill abortion” (Jeffrey Stott, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
  • A new producer-friendly tool to diagnose bovine respiratory disease virus infections (Beate Crossley, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, UC Davis)
  • Coordinated electronic extension of research-based information to cattlemen (Glenn Nader, UC Cooperative Extension, Yuba/Sutter/Butte counties)
  • Testing of new management tools for controlling medusahead (a rangeland weed) in California  (Josh Davy, UC Cooperative Extension, Tehama/Glenn/Colusa counties)
  • Evaluation and validation of a PCR assay to detect Tritrichomonas foetus (trichomoniasis pathogen) in modified media (Kristin Clothier, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, UC Davis)
  • Beef cattle welfare: assessment of pain relief and healing after hot-iron branding and castration (Cassandra Tucker, UC Davis Department of Animal Science)

For additional information about these research projects, please contact DeeDee Kitterman, (530) 752-9484, dmkitterman@ucdavis.edu.

Media Contacts

  • DeeDee Kitterman, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 752-9484, dmkitterman@ucdavis.edu
  • John Stumbos, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-4979, jdstumbos@ucdavis.edu
Posted on Monday, April 2, 2012 at 5:21 PM
Tags: cattle (1), grants (8)

UC receives more than $6 million for specialty crop research

University of California researchers will receive more than $6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which is intended to enhance agricultural markets, address environmental concerns, protect plant health, provide farmers with scientifically tested production techniques and increase food safety.

The USDA awarded $55 million nationwide for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which provides grants to states to enhance the competitiveness of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture identified 72 projects in the state for funding, including 30 projects led by University of California agricultural researchers.

“Funding for specialty crop research is critical to California’s $37.5 billion agricultural industry because many of the crops grown in California are considered specialty crops,” said Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “With these funds, UC scientists will be helping California farmers find new ways to protect their crops from pests and diseases, remain economically viable, and provide healthy food for an increasing number of people.”

Highlights include:

  • The UC Davis Center for Produce Safety received a combined $1.4 million for food safety projects, many of which will develop strategies to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Assessing temperature conditions to determine the potential for using wind machines as an alternative to sprinklers for frost protection in coastal vineyards­ with the ultimate goal of reduced water use ­is the goal of a $59,961 project led by UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor Mark Battany in San Luis Obispo County.
  • The UC Agricultural Issues Center will be conducting an analysis of the effects of quality control standards and European Union trade policies on the California olive industry, to identify market opportunities as standards and policies change, funded for $135,883.
  • The largest single award made to UC in this round was $495,750 to a statewide project that will assess the effects of reduced irrigation on strawberries, blueberries and blackberries -- including berry yield, nutritional content, flavor and consumer preference -- ­led by researchers with the UC small farm program.
  • A project that will train small-scale, Latino, Hmong and Mien growers in Fresno, the Sacramento Valley, the Central Coast and Southern California regions to compete in new markets, led by the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, received $86,851.
  • Developing improved integrated pest management strategies that could help ornamental nurseries protect against the light brown apple moth is the goal of a $255,598 project led by Steve Tjosvold, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Santa Cruz County.

“Many of these projects are collaborative efforts between farmers and scientists from UC campuses, UC Cooperative Extension advisors in counties, and other agencies and educational institutions,” Allen-Diaz said. “This array of expertise focused along the spectrum of specialty crops production will help keep California competitive in the global economy.”

For a complete list of California’s Specialty Crop Block Grants projects, please visit http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants.

Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM
  • Posted By: Brenda Dawson
  • Written by: Pam Kan-Rice, (530) 754-3912, pskanrice@ucdavis.edu and Brenda Dawson, (530) 752-7779, bldawson@ucdavis.edu

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