UC Researchers Trying to Understand Roll of Green Waste and Manure

Almond Growers Are Asked to Return Survey

Researchers are trying to find out the benefit of adding green waste from animal manure and adding it to the soil of permanent crops, and they  are looking for information from local growers.

A team of UC Davis and UC Merced researchers are trying to find how and why fruit and nut growers are using organic matter amended to their soils. These amendments might include green waste composted or non composted animal manure.

The goal of this survey is to help develop better approaches so the organic matter amendment can be used more safely, according to Daniel Schellenberg, postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis, who is the coordinator of the project.

“We’re hoping to find out the benefit to the orchard for using these types of materials and how they might improve environmental quality but as well as to find out are they benefit tree nutrition are they changing the biology in the soil, or they simply increasing the capacity of the soil to hold water.” said Schellenberg.

All California almond growers will be getting a survey in their mailboxes this week.

“We’re working with in partnership with the Almond Board of California we were able to have a mailing that will go out to almond growers about their practices and have also built a website that will allow all growers of trees, fruits, and nuts to be able to take the survey.” said Schellenberg

The survey can be found here.

Previously, the Almond Board of California stated that growers should not use these amendment due to food safety, but there has been no field trials to show the risk. A research goal is to find how amends can be used safely, and to determine how much nitrogen certain amendments can provide for tree and  vines.

Borlaug CAST Communication Award — UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Source: Patricia Bailey

Photo Credit: John Stumbos

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has announced that Alison Van Eenennaam, a geneticist and Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology at the University of California, Davis, is the recipient of its 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award.

Announcement of the award, which will be presented to Van Eenennaam on Oct. 15 along with the World Food Prize Symposium in Iowa, was made at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Established in 1986 and named after Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, the award is presented to a food or agricultural scientist who is actively engaged in research; has made significant contributions to science; and communicates the importance of food and agricultural science to the public, policymakers and the news media.

Van Eenennaam’s research and extension program in UC Davis’ Department of Animal Science is focused on developing science-based educational materials about the uses of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems.

She has served on advisory committees in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to provide expert counsel on animal biotechnology.

Van Eenennaam is a passionate advocate for science and frequently speaks about agricultural technology to the public and policymakers, both nationally and internationally. She frequently provides science-based commentary to the media on sometimes-controversial topics, including genetic engineering and cloning. She also works to increase public understanding of agricultural biotechnology, using a variety of media, including YouTube videos.

JUST IN: UC Davis’ Preliminary Findings on Drought Impact in Central Valley

Source Office of Public Affairs

Photo Source-Aquafornia

California’s drought impact will be a severe blow to Central Valley irrigated agriculture and farm communities this year and could cost the industry $1.7 billion and cause more than 14,500 workers to lose their jobs, according to preliminary results of a new study by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Researchers estimated that Central Valley irrigators would receive only two-thirds of their normal river water deliveries this year because of the drought.

The preliminary analysis represents the first socio-economic forecast of this year’s drought, said lead author Richard Howitt, a UC Davis professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics.

“We wanted to provide a foundation for state agricultural and water policymakers to understand the drought impact on farmers and farm communities,” Howitt said.

The Central Valley is the richest food-producing region in the world. Much of the nation’s fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown on the region’s 7 million acres of irrigated farmland.

The center plans to release a more comprehensive report of the drought’s economic impact on the state’s irrigated agriculture this summer.

The analysis was done at the request of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which co-funded the research, along with the University of California.

“These estimates will help the state better understand the economic impacts of the drought, ” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The research confirms where emergency drought assistance will be needed most, and efforts are already underway.”

The UC Davis researchers used computer models and the latest estimates of State Water Project, the federal Central Valley Project and local water deliveries, plus groundwater pumping capacities to forecast the economic effects of this year’s drought.

The analysis predicted several severe impacts for the current growing season, including:

▪Reduced surface water deliveries of 6.5 million acre-feet of water, or 32.5 percent of normal water use by Central Valley growers. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre of land in a foot of water, or enough water for about two California households for a year.

▪ Fallowing of an additional 410,000 acres, representing 6 percent of irrigated cropland in the Central Valley.

▪ The loss of an estimated 14,500 seasonal and full-time jobs. About 6,400 of these jobs are directly involved in crop production.

▪ A total cost of $1.7 billion to the Central Valley’s irrigated farm industry this year, including about $450 million in additional costs of groundwater pumping.

▪ About 60 percent of the economic losses will occur in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Lake Basin.

Growers are expected to replace much of the loss in project water deliveries with groundwater, California’s largest source of water storage during drought years, said co-author Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences and a UC Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“Without access to groundwater, this year’s drought would be truly devastating to farms and cities throughout California,” Lund said.

The additional pumping will cost an estimated $450 million and still leave a shortage of 1.5 million acre-feet of irrigation water, about 7.5 percent of normal irrigation water use in the Central Valley, according to the forecast.

While the current drought is expected to impose major hardships on many farmers, small communities and the environment, it should not threaten California’s overall economy, Lund said.

Agriculture today accounts for less than 3 percent of the state’s $1.9 trillion a year gross domestic product.Other authors on the report are UC Davis agricultural economist Josue Medellin-Azuara and Duncan MacEwan of the ERA Economic consulting firm in Davis.