Climate

New Interactive Web Tools Help Growers Cope With Climate Change

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

UCCE, USDA California Climate Hub launch CalAgroClimate decision-support tool

Climate and weather variability pose increasing risks to farmers. As world leaders gather in Egypt at COP27 to address the climate crisis, University of California Cooperative Extension and the USDA California Climate Hub are launching new web-based tools to provide farmers with locally relevant and crop-specific information to make production decisions that reduce risk.

“Integrating historical weather data and forecast information with meaningful agricultural decision support information holds the potential to reduce a crop’s vulnerability to such risks,” said Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension climate adaptation specialist at UC Merced.

“To provide easy access to high-resolution data in the form of agroclimate tools and information, and to enhance agricultural resilience to climate and weather-related risks, we are launching CalAgroClimate,” Pathak said.

Pathak is collaborating on building the decision support tool with partners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Climate Hub, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Informatics and Geographic Information Systems or IGIS.

“CalAgroClimate has been designed to support climate-enabled decision making for those working in the California specialty crop industry,” said Steven Ostoja, director of USDA California Climate Hub. “The USDA California Climate Hub is a proud collaborator on this important initiative to ensure the state’s agricultural industry can continue to thrive in a future of climate change.”

Shane Feirer and Robert Johnson of UC ANR IGIS designed the interactive tools on the website and Lauren Parker of the USDA California Climate Hub contributed to content organization.An advisory panel composed of colleagues from UCCE and the Natural Resources Conservation Service ensures CalAgroClimate tools are relevant to stakeholder needs.

“CalAgroClimate is an amazing new tool that puts comprehensive past and forecast weather data at any grower’s disposal,” said Mark Battany, UC Cooperative Extension water management and biometeorology advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

“California’s high-value crops are subject to a myriad of weather-related risk factors; this tool will allow growers to better address both near-term and long-term risks, and in the end grow more profitably,” said Battany, who is a member of the CalAgroClimate advisory panel.

Growers and crop consultants can use CalAgroClimate’s crop and location-specific tools and resources to help make on-farm decisions, such as preparing for frost or untimely rain and taking advantage of expected favorable conditions.

CalAgroClimate currently includes heat advisory, frost advisory, crop phenology and pest advisory tools.

Heat advisory tool: Extreme heat poses a danger for people, animals and crops. With this tool, users can select location and temperature threshold (e.g. 90 F, 95 F 100 F) based on their crop-specific heat tolerance level and the tool will provide a customized map of heat risk for the next seven days for that location, including the number of consecutive days with temperature above that threshold. Users also can assess overall heat risks across the state for a selected temperature threshold as well. With an early warning about hot temperatures, growers can take steps to reduce risks associated with extreme heat such as providing shade, changing farmworkers’ schedules and applying additional irrigation.

Frost advisory tool: Frost risk is a serious issue for many specialty crops across California. Similar to the heat advisory tool, this tool provides a customized map of frost advisory for the next seven days for a user’s location, and a forecast of consecutive days with temperature falling below the selected temperature thresholds (e.g. 35 F, 32 F, 28 F). Early warning about cold temperatures can provide growers some time to protect their crops from frost damage.

Crop phenology tool: The scientists have developed a-crop specific and location-specific crop phenology tool to help users keep track of growing degree days accumulations and estimate critical growth stages. CalAgroClimate uses a high-resolution PRISM dataset to provide near real-time crop phenology information to users. This tool will inform growers about how their crop development compares to previous years, which can be helpful in planning activities specific to critical growth stages.

Pest advisory tool: Similar to crop growth, development of certain pests and diseases is controlled by temperature and heat unit accumulations. With the pest advisory tool, growers can keep track of estimated pest generations during the growing season to make pest management decisions.

“We are launching the website with this initial set of tools while working on adding more crop-specific information and several new tools in the near future,” Pathak said. “We look forward to getting feedback from growers who use CalAgroClimate to make it even more useful.”

2022-11-22T09:16:52-08:00November 22nd, 2022|

Farmers Fear Zero-Emission Trucking Proposal Could Strand Farm Products

By Caleb Hampton, California Farm Bureau

The California Air Resources Board is considering a proposed regulation to phase out big rigs and other trucks with internal combustion engines and replace them with zero-emission vehicles.

The proposed Advanced Clean Fleets regulation would include vehicles that transport agricultural commodities.

It would follow a 2020 executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2030, and apply to medium-duty and heavy-duty internal combustion vehicles. The proposal would force some federal agencies and trucking companies to begin converting their fleets to zero-emission vehicles in 2024 and prohibit the sale of all new fossil-fueled trucks by 2040.

Replacing these trucks and large delivery vehicles with zero-emission vehicles would augment California’s push to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions. While diesel-powered trucks represent a small fraction of the 30 million vehicles registered in the state, they produce about 70% of its smog-forming gases and 80% of carcinogenic diesel pollutants, according to the air resources board.

During a public hearing on Oct. 27, environmental advocates and industry groups clashed over the proposed rule. Environmentalists pushed for tighter rules and faster deadlines. Trucking industry leaders raised concerns about costs and the readiness of the electrical grid, vehicle technology and charging infrastructure for a statewide transition to zero-emission trucks within the proposed timeframe.

California farmers who rely on trucking companies for the timely transport of fresh commodities have also voiced concerns.

“Their concept is great, but the application is going to be hard,” said Keith Nilmeier, who farms 220 acres of oranges, peaches, apricots and grapes in Fresno County, and runs a trucking business with a fleet of 18 trucks. “They’re trying to drop it way too fast.”

Farming groups have pointed to a lack of rural charging stations and the limited range of zero-emission trucks, which they fear could slow or disrupt agricultural transport.

“Livestock, fruits and vegetables need to be transported in a timely manner to ensure food and animal safety,” Katie Little, policy advocate for the California Farm Bureau, said at the air resources board hearing. “The time required to charge these vehicles, in addition to the time needed to travel to these charging facilities, could jeopardize food security and availability.”

In typical tomato haul, for instance, a truck might travel over 800 miles in a 24-hour period. If the zero-emission vehicle’s range isn’t far enough, the charging infrastructure is not in place, or the electrical grid can’t handle the amount of big rig truck batteries that need to be charged, that could leave vehicles stranded in hot temperatures with thousands of pounds of fresh tomatoes.

State officials are pledging to invest $10 billion over several years to expand charging infrastructure and transition to zero-emission vehicles. But there currently are fewer than 2,000 zero-emission medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles on California roads.

Joe Antonini, owner of Stockton-based Antonini Freight Express, which trucks tomatoes, almonds, walnuts and olives, said, “The infrastructure needs to be built prior to putting in place mandates.”

A coalition of commercial, transportation and agricultural organizations, including the California Farm Bureau, raised concerns about the proposed rule.

“We are extremely concerned that the proposed ACF rule will be unworkable in the real world and could result in compromising the delivery of essential goods and services to Californians,” the groups said in a letter to the air resources board.

Even if the basic infrastructure were in place, trucking company owners say the rule would impose significant hurdles.

Due to the weight of an electric truck battery, trucks could have their load capacity reduced by around 8,000 pounds, forcing companies to operate more vehicles in order to move the same tonnage. And with some of those vehicles sidelined while they charge, Antonini said his company, which has 240 trucks, may need as many as 50% more vehicles to move its freight.

With the sector already facing a driver shortage, the need for trucking companies to scale up their fleets could cause disruptions that impact farmers. “There are so many challenges on the ag side,” Antonini said. “This whole legislation will, in my opinion, have a very negative impact on California agriculture.”

Other farmers and trucking company owners raised questions about the cost of zero-emission vehicles, how long it might take to charge them and how many trucks could charge simultaneously at a single charging station.

“It’s terrifying for me to even think about,” said Tom Barcellos, owner of Barcellos Farms, a Tipton-based dairy farm and trucking company.

The upfront cost of an electric truck exceeds that of a conventional one, though the state’s air board staff project the cost of a zero-emission truck will go down as more models enter the market. They estimate that by 2035 it will be cheaper to buy and operate an electric semi-truck than a conventional one.

Nonetheless, farmers and trucking company owners expressed anxiety over the proposed timeline for transitioning the state’s fleets from diesel to electric. With diesel trucks, Barcellos said, “we can turn the key and go whenever we need to.”

The air resources board is set to hold a second hearing and a vote on the proposed rule in the spring. After a regulation is finalized, it would be subject to a public comment period.

2022-11-16T11:11:56-08:00November 16th, 2022|

UCCE Water Management Expert Helps Save Water, Increase Supply in SoCal

By Saoimanu Sope, UCANR

Earlier this year, officials in Southern California declared a water shortage emergency resulting in restrictions such as limiting outdoor water use to one day of the week. While mandatory restrictions vary across the region, Amir Haghverdi, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and associate professor of agricultural and urban water management at UC Riverside, is using research to pinpoint irrigation strategies that will help communities reduce their demand for water and increase supply.

Haghverdi and his team are responding to a hotter and drier California by working to identify changes that can make a substantial difference in water savings.

While behavioral changes such as preventing leaks and turning the faucet off while brushing teeth can help, Haghverdi’s research focuses on methodical changes like stressing green spaces, planting drought-tolerant plant species, using non-traditional water sources, and investing in technology to better control water use.

Testing a lawn’s limits

For six years, Haghverdi and his team have performed stress tests on turfgrass to identify the lowest percent of evapotranspiration rate (ETo) that it can withstand and still survive. To do this, Haghverdi’s team applies different percentages of ETo, obtained from weather stations, and monitors the performance of each landscape species over time.
While both cool-season and warm-season species can be stressed and still maintain their aesthetic value for a few weeks to several months, Haghverdi’s results showed that warm-season turfgrass species require less water and can withstand water stress better.

The actual duration that people can apply less water depends on the type of turfgrass, the weather conditions and the stress level. For example, results showed that hybrid bermudagrass (a warm-season turfgrass) during summer in inland Southern California could keep its aesthetic value above the minimum threshold for 30 to 50 days, depending on the weather conditions, with irrigation application as low as 40% ETo.

In contrast, tall fescue, a cool-season turfgrass, even with 20% more water, showed signs of stress after only a few weeks and could not maintain its minimum acceptable quality.

Plant drought-tolerant species

Haghverdi’s work demonstrates that when water conservation is the goal, alternative groundcover species are clearly superior to all turfgrass species and cultivars that they have tested so far. In fact, his team has identified drought-tolerant species that can maintain their aesthetic values with a third to a quarter less water than cool-season turfgrass (as low as 20% ETo) and can even withstand no-irrigation periods.

Furthermore, extensive field trials showed that new plant species from different regions could be as resilient as native species in withstanding drought and heat stress while maintaining their aesthetic beauty and cool canopy. Occasionally, they have outperformed native species, underscoring the advantages of drought- and heat-tolerant species that are non-native.
Based on Haghverdi’s preliminary results for minimum irrigation requirement in inland Southern California, creeping Australian saltbush, a non-native species originally from Australia, and coyote bush, native to California, were top performers. Considering cooling benefits, drought tolerance and sensitivity to over-irrigation, creeping Australian saltbush performed the best.
Ph.D. students Anish Sapkota and Jean Claude Iradukunda collect plant physiological data to understand how native and non-native irrigated groundcover species respond to periods of water stress and limited irrigation applications in inland Southern California.

Counties are already using recycled water

Although he recommends renewing your landscape with drought-tolerant or low-water use greenery and identifying how long your green spaces can live without water, Haghverdi acknowledges that, while contradictory, the cooling benefits of landscape irrigation are essential in Southern California.

“This is one of the tradeoffs of water conservation,” said Haghverdi. “If the only goal is to conserve water, maybe people will conclude that we don’t have enough water to irrigate landscape.”

Water conservation efforts could influence counties to stop or reduce landscape irrigation. The consequences, however, would result in hotter environments due to the heat island effect. The loss of landscapes means that the sun’s energy will be absorbed into the ground, instead of prompting transpiration in plants, which helps keep environments cool.

Thus, stressing green spaces and investing in drought-tolerant plant species help reduce the demand for water, but increasing water supply is just as vital. Haghverdi urges Southern California counties to prioritize a supplemental water supply such as recycled water – an approach already implemented in Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Pure Water Southern California Program, formerly known as the Regional Recycled Water Program, aims to do just that. In partnership with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, the program will further purify wastewater to produce a sustainable source of high-quality water for the region.

According to the program’s website, this would “produce up to 150 million gallons of water daily when completed and provide purified water for up to 15 million people, making it one of the largest water reuse programs in the world.”

Smart controllers save time, money and water

Making the best use of the water you already have relies on efficiency. Sprinklers that are poorly placed, for example, are not as effective as they could be.

“What I see often while walking my dog in the neighborhood is that there’s a lot of runoff, bad irrigation and bad timing like when it’s windy,” Haghverdi observed. “People usually set their irrigation timer and then forget it, but they don’t adjust it based on the season or weather parameters. That’s not going to help us conserve water, a precious resource, in California.”

Thankfully, Haghverdi and his team have done extensive research on smart irrigation controllers, which, simply put, are irrigation timers with a sensor built in. Generally, there are two types of smart irrigation controllers: weather- and soil-based controllers.

Weather-based controllers use evapotranspiration data to automatically adjust their watering schedule according to local weather conditions. Soil-based controllers measure moisture at the root zone and start irrigating whenever the reading falls below a programmed threshold.

Smart controllers that have flowmeters can detect leaks and be activated automatically, whereas rain sensors can stop irrigation during rainfall. Although both additions are ideal for large irrigation landscapes such as parks and publicly maintained green spaces, rain sensors are easy to install and effective for residential areas too.

When asked about cost being a hindrance, Haghverdi responded, “Not a lot of people know that there are grants for smart controllers – some that will pay either all or a majority of the cost.”

To check if grants are available in your area, interested individuals are encouraged to contact their local water provider.

“We need to move towards autonomous and smart irrigation [strategies], and water management in urban areas. That’s the future. If we can build autonomous cars, why can’t we build smart water management systems that apply the right amount of water to each plant species, can detect leaks and prevent water waste?” said Haghverdi.

To learn more about or stay updated on Haghverdi’s research, visit www.ucrwater.com.

2022-11-15T13:09:22-08:00November 15th, 2022|

California Dairy Research Foundation Awarded $85 Million from USDA for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project

By Jennifer Giambroni, California Milk Advisory Board

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing up to $2.8 billion in projects selected under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. Applicants submitted more than 450 project proposals; 70 were selected for funding.

The California Dairy Research Foundation, in partnership with more than 20 other dairy organizations, was among the recipients. CDRF’s grant partners include California governmental organizations, corporations and cooperatives, universities, producer organizations, environmental organizations, and others. The USDA has established an estimated funding ceiling of $85 million for this project to advance climate-smart dairy farming; the final award will be granted in the coming months.

“CDRF is extremely pleased to have received this grant on behalf of the entire collaborative team. The project brings together organizations throughout the value chain to the benefit of our hard-working dairy producers and the environment. We look forward to working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Milk Advisory Board, Dairy Cares, the universities and others to implement this advanced climate-smart ag project in California’s dairy industry,” said CDRF’s Executive Director Denise Mullinax.

Over the next five years, the project, “Partnering to Invest in and Build Markets for California’s Climate-Smart Dairy Producers,” will work to build climate-smart dairy markets and provide financial incentives for California dairy producers to adopt climate-smart manure management practices to reduce both methane emissions and nitrogen surplus and will leverage matching funding from non-federal sources.

“This funding represents the next critical installment and chapter in California’s world-leading dairy methane reduction efforts,” said Michael Boccadoro, Executive Director of Dairy Cares. “On-farm projects will be designed to not only reduce methane but will significantly improve water quality outcomes, ensuring broad benefits for our rural farm communities.

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is part of USDA’s broader strategy to position agriculture and forestry as leaders in climate change mitigation through voluntary, incentive-based, market-driven approaches.

“Dairy families in California continue to step up to ensure the agriculture sector contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “The partnership between the State and dairy families has resulted in significant methane emission reductions making California a national and international leader in supporting on-farm livestock methane reductions using climate-smart agricultural management approaches and other environmental benefits, including improved water quality from dairy farms”.

Other partners supporting this project are California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, California Milk Advisory Board, Dairy Cares, California Dairy Campaign, California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, Milk Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, Sustainable Conservation, Western United Dairies, California Farm Bureau Federation, University of California, Davis, University of California, Riverside, University of California Cooperative Extension, Truterra, California Dairies, Inc., Challenge Dairy Products, Nestlé.

2022-09-21T10:17:24-07:00September 21st, 2022|

Climate-Smart Team Announced for Farmers

UC Cooperative Extension Deploys Team of 10 to Help Farmers Practice Climate-Smart Agriculture

By Jeannette Warnert, UCANR Communications Specialist

Scientists are developing climate-smart farming practices, California is offering financial incentives to implement them, and now a group of 10 UC Cooperative Extension climate-smart educators are taking the program to the next level.

To help farmers apply for grants to improve soil quality and enhance irrigation systems, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources partnered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to put climate smart educators in 10 California communities.  The educators are working closely with UCCE advisors to help farmers and ranchers improve soil health, irrigation practices and manure management.

The climate smart programs offered by CDFA and promoted by UC ANR educators are:

The educators provide hands-on assistance to farmers and ranchers through the complex application process, conduct field days with climate-smart farmers, establish demonstration plots to share the practices, and work with farmers who are voluntarily implementing climate-smart farming.

Most of the educators were hired in early 2019, just weeks before the application deadline. They are now gearing up for a second cycle of applications. The state funded 194 projects in 2018, and 217 in 2019.

Each of the educators has a passion for agriculture and the environment, shaped by their upbringing, experiences and education.

“I am interested in carrying out research that focuses on the adoption and economics of climate change best management practices. The practices should help farmers continue their business,” said Esther Mosase, climate-smart educator in San Diego County. “I’m interested in seeing policymakers making policies that have a farmer as a focal point. They have been here long, they have been tilling the land, they can also contribute in coming up with better solutions that reduce climate change.”

The state is providing incentives for farmers to improve soil health in order to moderate the conditions that are driving global climate change. Improving soil health increases its ability to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Side benefits include improved water infiltration, nutrient cycling and dust control.

Farmers can apply for three-year grants to implement new practices on their farm, such as reducing tillage, growing cover crops and applying compost. Conventional farm practices turn the earth, releasing the stored carbon back into the atmosphere.

UCCE’s 10 new climate-smart educators are:

Britta Baskerville
UC Cooperative Extension, Mendocino County
blbaskerville@ucanr.edu, (707) 463-4158

Baskerville started college as a theater major in Sacramento, then realized that wouldn’t result in a viable career. After suffering from an autoimmune disease tied to microbiome health, she began to understand the important role of the food and agricultural industries in public health. Baskerville earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley that combines sustainable agriculture with the sociological and ecological impacts of agriculture, natural resources conservation and public health.

Last summer, Baskerville served as a program coordinator in an adaptive agriculture learning environment, where she designed two practicum programs for adults. She is considering a career in the food industry.

Caddie Bergren
UC Cooperative Extension, Merced County
cmbergren@ucanr.edu, (209) 385-7403

Bergren grew up in a small fishing town on an island in Alaska. She earned a bachelor’s degree in earth systems at Stanford University in 2013, and then spent two and a half years in Paraguay as a Peace Corps volunteer. Bergren worked with a women’s garden cooperative and with subsistence farmers. She spent the last three years as a community organizer.

“I was so excited to find this job, which combines my interests in working directly with all kinds of people on the intersection of agriculture and climate change,” Bergren said. “I’ve especially enjoyed using my Spanish-language skills to work with traditionally underserved farmers in this area.”

Dana Brady
UC Cooperative Extension, Glenn County
dmbrady@ucanr.edu
, (530) 517-8187

Brady completed a bachelor’s degree in animal science at Chico State University in 2018. She was familiar with UC Cooperative Extension through school and had visited UCCE research sites.

Brady grew up in a farming and ranching family in rural Linden, southeast of Stockton.

“My earliest memory is of my grandfather’s farm, where he had an emu, donkey and llama,” she said. “I was in 4-H and FFA as long as I can remember.”

In addition to working directly with farmers on grant applications, Brady has been helping advisors in Glenn County on research projects and building relationships in the community through workshops and seminars.

“I am also very excited for an upcoming event at an elementary school farm day to present about Climate Smart Agriculture and presenting at some bigger events later this year with a few others in the cohort,” Brady said.

Samikshya (Sami) Budhathoki
UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno and Madera counties
sbudhathoki@ucanr.edu, (559) 241-7515

A native of Nepal, Budhathoki traveled to the United States in 2015 to attend college at Fresno State, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in plant science. During her studies, she completed a weed and salinity management project with professor Anil Shrestha. Budhathoki served as an intern in plant pathology with Bayer Crop Science.

She developed in interest in agriculture because of the industry’s importance to society and the world.

“Some people don’t get enough to eat even once a day. I wanted to join the effort to end world hunger and food insecurity,” Budhathoki said.

Budhathoke said she also is concerned about climate change and welcomes the opportunity to help farmers maintain a sustainable agriculture industry even in the face of climate change.

In the future, she plans to pursue graduate studies in climate change or water management.

Emily Lovell
UC Cooperative Extension, Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties
ejlovell@ucanr.edu, (530) 405-9777

Lovell grew up in Sacramento and developed an interest in agriculture when she was overcoming a serious illness. She graduated from UC Davis in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in sustainable agriculture and food systems.

“Originally, I didn’t want to make money in agriculture,” she said. “I wanted to live off the land. I believe farming is a political act and I wanted to help return power to the people through farming and land ownership.”

Lovell said she is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in an area that combines community resiliency through localized food systems and economics and, eventually, becoming a crop adviser.

Esther Mosase
San Diego County
enmosase@ucanr.edu, (858) 282-6737

Mosase has a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Botswana College of Agriculture and a doctorate from South Dakota State University in civil engineering. Her master’s research focused on water resources, watershed modeling and management.

Raised in a farming family in Botswana, Mosase experienced the impact of climate change firsthand.

“I remember we had drought years, normal years and extremely wet years,” she said. “Twenty years ago, it was not uncommon for open water to freeze. But now we get mild winters and very hot summers. Rain-fed agriculture is now a risky enterprise compared to two decades ago.”

In addition to helping farmers with the climate-smart farming grant applications, Mosase is helping farmers cope with water quality concerns.

“For instance, one farmer wanted to improve the water quality at the edge of his avocado and citrus farm before it enters the stream. He also wanted to be helped with pools of standing water in the farm that usually affect the health of avocado trees,” Mosase said. “We advised him on what to do regarding the standing water, but for the edge of the field treatment, we decided to install bioreactors.”

Mosase will help collect field data on the bioreactors’ effectiveness and plans to publish the results.

Valerie Perez
UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Cruz County
valperez@ucanr.edu, (831) 763-8028

Perez earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2018. She accepted an internship with a large animal veterinarian, and found her passion, she said. In addition to working as a climate smart community educator, Perez is taking prerequisite courses for veterinary school. She hopes her career will lead to conducting research to benefit the meat industry.

“I’ve always been interested in ways to better agriculture and how our systems could improve, but it wasn’t until I received this job that my interest for climate-smart agriculture really peaked,” Perez said. “Agriculture is such an important industry, it is vital that we find ways to educate one another on how to better what we have been doing for so many years.”

Allison Rowe
UC Cooperative Extension, Ventura County
amrowe@ucanr.edu
, (805) 645-1464

Rowe has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Colorado College in Colorado Springs and a master’s degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. Her background and interests focus on the interface of land management and climate change.

“Everyone and everything is interwoven with our food system and yet so much of how we produce food accelerates climate change,” Rowe said. “I enjoy being at the interface of science and education, where the rubber meets the road. I wanted to find a role where I could work with people on the ground and implement solutions to climate change while contributing to resilient farming economies.”

She said it is encouraging to see that farmers and ranchers are interested in climate-smart agriculture and welcome the technical assistance.

Kristian Salgado
UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County
kmsalgado@ucanr.edu, (442) 265-7700

Salgado attended San Diego State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 2014 with a double major in psychology and environmental studies and minors in counseling and social change. She earned a master’s degree in social science at Humboldt State University in 2018.

“My background in agriculture is very broad ranging, from topics relating to public health concerns connected to agriculture production – pesticide drift and agricultural burning – to food insecurity in low-income communities,” Salgado said.

Salgado is a native of Calexico, a city located across the border from its sister city, Mexicali, Mexico. Her farming experience centers on urban agriculture.

“Growing food on non-agricultural land has allowed me to learn the technical/scientific processes that go into growing food,” she said.

Salgado plans to continue her education in a doctoral program in ethnic studies at UC San Diego, where she can focus on several overlapping areas of interest, including race studies, food justice, sustainable agriculture, climate change, environmental decision-making processes, and participatory action research methodology and practices.

Shulamit Shroder
UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County
sashroder@ucanr.edu, (661) 868-2168

Shroder attended college at the University of Maryland in College Park, earning bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and policy and in Spanish language, literature and cultures. She has worked in an agricultural research lab, in the gardens at the University of Maryland and in a nearby organic farm. After graduating in 2016, Shroder volunteered with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, where she trained farmers on gardening and agroforestry techniques and extended improved varieties of staple crops like beans, corn, millet and sorghum.

“While serving in Senegal, I saw firsthand the effects of desertification and erratic rainfall on the ability of the community to feed itself,” she said

Shroder intends to earn a master’s degree and continue to research and promote sustainable agriculture techniques.

2019-12-06T17:15:40-08:00December 5th, 2019|

Action Needed to Amend SB1

Urge your Representatives to AMEND SB 1

From California Citrus Mutual

This week the Assembly will consider Senate Bill 1 by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins.

SB 1 proposes dangerous changes to how the state implements the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will have devastating impacts on how water is managed in California.

The bill seeks to preserve environmental regulations against perceived rollbacks by the Trump Administration by empowering state agencies to immediately adopt the “baseline” standard in place before January 19, 2017 (the day before President Trump was inaugurated).

As currently written, SB 1 would lock in the existing biological opinions that determine how much water must flow out of the Delta to protect native fish species. This directly influences how much water is available to ALL water users south of the Delta.

The State and Federal agencies are currently in the process of updating the biological opinions, which will result in lower flows and more water for communities and agriculture. But, by locking in the existing biological opinions, SB 1 prohibits State from using the best available science to manage how water moves through the Delta.

Recent amendments do not go far enough to address the ESA provisions.

California Citrus Mutual and many other agricultural and business-sector groups have proposed constructive amendments to address these concerns.  The Pro Tem’s office, however, did not make substantive changes to the bill before it was passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday despite pressure from the Governor’s Office.

The Legislature will adjourn next Friday and it is imperative that SB 1 be amended THIS WEEK.

We are calling on our Assembly Members and Senators to urge the Senate Pro Tem to accept amendments to the ESA section.

Please click on the link below to send a letter to your representatives asking them to support amendments to the ESA section in SB 1.

California Citrus Mutual Action Center

2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00September 4th, 2019|

Abnormal Weather, Temperatures, and Pests

A Year of Unusual Weather Affects Vegetable Crops

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

A year filled with abnormal weather is starting to show its effects on vegetable crops. Tom Turini of the University of California Cooperative Extension Fresno County, who is a plant commodity specialist, shared some of the early seasonal problems he has witnessed.

“We had unusual weather this year—a very cool, late spring—and with the rains we’ve had, we expected to see some issues that are unusual. We just didn’t see the incidence of those problems that we would have expected,” Turini said.

Turini added that levels of beet curly top are relatively low and tomato spotted wilt is densely populated in some areas. He also noted that the early appearance of the consperse stink bug seems to be having a measurable impact on crops, specifically on the west side of Fresno County.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00July 25th, 2019|

Put Your Public Water Outreach Programs on Steroids

Water Storage Projects are Essential To Counter Inconsistent Wet Weather

By Stephen Baker, Operation Unite

How can the short memory of the public maintain the long-term commitments of water projects and conservation behaviors? On one hand, California’s recent extended drought demonstrated that the public water users could reduce their water use, but can it be maintained permanently?

And then there is water storage.

Water storage projects are essential to counter the inconsistent presence of natural yearly precipitation and sporadic wet winters, but is the public supporting projects that get the job done? Water shortage is imminent without an ability to treat, store and, ultimately, satisfy the demand of the 40 million Californians while, at the same time, maintaining a healthy environment. And without adequate water storage, we rely on groundwater aquifers. Unfortunately, this is also a bit of a sore spot. The public water users either feel that groundwater is theirs for the taking, or they consider groundwater as someone else’s problem. Either way, communities are fragmenting from misunderstanding, misconceptions and the politics of water.

Thanks to Climate change, these issues are each magnified. Climate change is now instigating our communities to adapt. Adaptation means that we have an infrastructure and public behavior that allow easy management when highly variable conditions occur.  What we need is buy-in from the public that is unwavering throughout the life of the project. It’s just not happening fast enough. It’s time to put your public water outreach program on steroids!

I know you can relate to these conditions because water purveyors, County Board of Supervisors, cities, GSAs, and Flood Control Districts face this each day with every project. Ask yourself: Are you building permanent public buy-in, or is it a fragmented and fleeting commitment? Conventional outreach methods have their successes, but it is hard to effectively engage from across the room. We need to get more personal.

It’s about relationship, and relationship is a two-way street. It is one thing to respond to the squeaky wheel and very much another to manage the entire machine in a manner that the machine operates successfully. Having the right relationship leaves your public knowing that you care and confident that you are considering an alternative that generates confidence. It gets even better. When a good relationship is built, we work better together, even when there are disagreements. Working together means you listen to understand. This is a major contributing factor needed in today’s diverse world, where building and maintaining a healthier community is critical. It even leads us to many other benefits that have nothing to do with water (e.g. homeless problem, fire safety, community economics, crime). Building relationships does take time, but if approached innovatively, it can be accomplished effectively and within a shortened period of time.

You currently engage in many public meetings, forums, private meetings, social media, conferences, and workshops on water projects. Each of these gatherings is an opportunity to build a relationship with specific emphasis on the quality of interaction. When done effectively, you will recognize that your public and you are coming together. Enhancing everyone’s ability to hear and be heard each will contribute to building healthy relationships. The vehicle for this to happen can be provided by new relationship-building tools.

So, if the strategy is about building a relationship, how is it actually developed? It’s about communication.

Many times, an opinion on communication strategy success is measured based on the number and type of events that are scheduled. Although this effort may satisfy regulatory or legal requirements, it misses the mark because the numbers of events independent of one another usually stall out in effectiveness, and you miss the opportunity to completely succeed. Let’s not forget the content of the event itself. This is where the steroids come in. Supplementing your current water outreach programs with some enhancement tools will increase public interactions and decrease pushback. Why lollygag reaching your success? Let’s get the job done.

We need communication tools that ramp up positive outcomes of your current efforts. Tools involve a mix of strategy and conduits of communication. When addressing strategy, plan a dynamic set of actions that are pre-assessed with knowledge of your public. Frequently revisit the pulse of your public through a variety of personal encounters and modify the strategy as needed. As we said earlier, we need to get more personal. There are new tools that effectively provide a community level of personal connection with a water project, and this is where the steroids come into view.

Communication is where the magic takes effect. Simultaneously connecting at varying scaled levels brings both the emotions and analytical understanding into focus with the meaning of your water projects. Accomplished effectively, this strategy of communication under the influence of the proverbial steroids develops a public that pushes a water project forward. The public will understand the value of water and the project’s relevance to their lives. At the end of the day, you feel heard, everyone is on the same page, and the project is completed on time and on budget. You even have money left over for the next project. Life doesn’t get better than that!

Stephen J. Baker is a Hydrogeologist and Founder of Operation Unite, a group that has developed communication tools for building mutually beneficial, engaged, and collaborative relations with the public and water projects. He can be contacted at stevebaker@operationunite.co or +1530-263-1007.

2019-07-22T17:16:54-07:00July 22nd, 2019|

North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance Looks for Solutions

Solutions From The Land on System Implementation

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Ernie Shea, president of Solutions From the Land. He explained the importance of system implementation and the North American Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance.

“Our primary areas of focus at the moment are clean energy, climate change, and soil and water conservation in the 21st century,” he said.

They are integrating these areas of focus and the systems involved. There is still a need to find a solution for profitability.

“The biggest and important areas of focus is finding a way to respond to the changing climatic conditions and deliver solutions that create wealth and job opportunities for agriculture,” Shea said.

North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance is looking for ways to deliver solutions.

“We have created the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, and it is the continental platform for farm and conservation groups that are looking at ways these landscapes can deliver solutions,” Shea explained.

There are conversations taking place at the state level about becoming more sustainable, resilient, and participating in the low carbon economy.

“Carbon sequestration is one of the more exciting new areas of opportunity that are coming for agriculture,” Shea said.

Farming has been framed as a problem in the past.

“Oftentimes, we’re framed as the problem child,” Shea said.

When managing a farming operation, good solid conservation practices are important.

“No-till cover crops are an example that you are increasing the organic content. You are sequestering carbon at a scale that goes beyond what people originally gave us credit for it,” Shea explained.

Well-managed agricultural systems help on many levels. In the upper Midwest, there are continuous corn operations, even no-till corn operations.

“They were measuring the carbon content in the first meter, and they weren’t realizing that the root systems, we’re pulling carbon down well below one meter down to two meters in deeper,” Shea said.

These monoculture landscapes are labeled as something bad. This landscape, in particular, was a critically needed solution. Well-managed agricultural systems can deliver food, feed, fiber, energy, and environmental services.

“If we can figure out a way to create a monitoring and measuring system, then 21st-century agriculture will be seen as solutions, not defined as problems,” Shea said.

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00June 25th, 2019|

American Agri-Women to Meet Today

Federal Land Policies Will Be Discussed

News Release

Today, the American Agri-Women (AAW) is hosting its 26th annual symposium in Washington, D.C., starting at 9 a.m. with the focus on private and public land use agreements.

“Federal Land Policies: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” will be held at the Department of Interior’s Sidney Yates Auditorium, 1849 C Street NW, and is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required. The program may be viewed at https://americanagriwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/2019-Symposium-Schedule.pdf.

The symposium is hosted each year by AAW’s Presidents’ Council, which is made up of the organization’s previous presidents. This year’s symposium will bring together prominent land use specialists and the Department of Interior’s directors for an open discussion.

The event’s keynote speaker is Myron Ebell, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell also chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which comprises representatives from more than two dozen non-profit organizations based in the United States and abroad that challenge global warming alarmism and opposes energy rationing policies.

Other featured panelists include Brenda BurmanCommissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation; Harriet Hageman, Hageman Law P.C. in Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Dr. Andrea Travnicek, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Wildlife and Parks. A Department of Interior “Welcome” will be given my Susan Combs, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks and lead for DOI Reorganization.

2019-06-10T16:01:48-07:00June 10th, 2019|
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