Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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CENIC and UC ANR team up to provide research scientists with super-fast Internet connectivity

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) have connected key UC ANR facilities to CENIC's ultra-fast 100Gbps research and education network, extending ultra-broadband capacity to UC researchers in rural sites across California.

UC ANR is comprised of nine research and extension centers (RECS) and 57 local UC Cooperative Extension offices. These facilities, until now, have been hampered by poor Internet connectivity to support the 700 UC academic researchers who are engaged with community and industry partners to ensure that California has healthy food systems, environments and communities.

The UC ANR RECS extend from the Oregon border in the north, through the Sierra foothills and Central Valley, along the Pacific Coast and south to the Mexican border. The REC facilities are situated among California's rich and unique agricultural and natural resources and they connect both applied and basic scientific research and extension activities to regional challenges and issues in these diverse settings. Today nearly all research and data analysis involves remote collaboration. In order to work effectively and efficiently on multi-institutional projects, researchers depend heavily on high-speed networks and access to large datasets and computing resources.

One of the first RECS to be connected is the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, located in rural Fresno County between the small cities of Parlier and Reedley. The Kearney REC now has very high speed broadband capability, far surpassing the speeds typically available outside urban centers.

“The Internet at Kearney was like a drinking straw delivering and retrieving information, when what we needed was a fire hose,” said Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer for UC ANR. “High-speed, broadband Internet at Kearney will allow UC ANR to lead innovative, on-farm agriculture technology research and extension for the UC in the Central Valley. It will allow Kearney researchers to share big data and big computing among UCs and globally.”

A drone flying over sorghum plots at Kearney collecting information on plant height, leaf area and biomass. Working with large data sets, such as this one, will be easier with high-speed Internet.

Currently, offices, laboratories and meeting facilities at Kearney have access to this high-speed Internet. In the coming months, high-speed wireless connectivity will become available throughout 330-acre center. Researchers will be able to collect and upload data without having to make a stop in their offices or laboratories.

“You can't do big data with dial-up Internet speed,” said Jeffery Dahlberg, director of the UC ANR Kearney REC. “Before this upgrade, our Internet was slower than my home Internet speeds. Now we have speeds more like you will find on UC campuses.”

Dahlberg said high-speed Internet will become a powerful research tool allowing researchers to collect and share data in real time.

“For instance, a researcher can use an infrared camera in a field collecting readings to determine how a crop responds to heat as it changes throughout the day, but even this modest instrument needs significant bandwidth,” he said. “We now have the bandwidth to do that.”

The research center draws hundreds of farmers to the site for meetings and field days. With the new capability, who that live too far way to travel to Kearney will be able to tune in to real-time video streams.

Many of UC ANR's research and extension centers are even more remote than Kearney. The Hopland (Mendocino County) and Desert (Holtville, Imperial County) RECs are now online and connected to the CENIC Network. By the end of the academic year (June 2017), West Side (western San Joaquin Valley), Hansen (Santa Clara Valley), South Coast (Orange County), Intermountain (Tulelake), Sierra Foothill (Browns Valley) and Lindcove (Tulare County), will all be on the CENIC Network. UC's environmental education center for Bay Area youth, Elkus Ranch, will also be connected to high-speed Internet via CENIC.

“CENIC is one of the most advanced research and education networks in the world and a critical resource for University of California research, education and clinical communities,” said Tom Andriola, UC Vice President and Chief Information Officer and CENIC Board member. “Extending the CENIC network to the full UC community — including UC ANR's key research and education sites — is essential to the UC mission. Today we have achieved a significant milestone, thanks to the dedication of both CENIC and ANR leadership.”

About UC ANR   www.ucanr.edu

The Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) is a statewide network of University of California researchers and educators dedicated to the creation, development and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural and human resources. The University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is the bridge between local issues and the power of UC research. ANR's advisors, specialists and faculty bring practical, science-based answers to Californians.

ANR works hand in hand with industry to enhance agricultural markets, help the balance of trade, address environmental concerns, protect plant health, and provide farmers with scientifically tested production techniques and Californians with increased food safety. ANR is comprised of

  • 200 locally based Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists
  • 57 local offices throughout California
  • 130 campus-based Cooperative Extension specialists
  • 9 Research and Extension Centers
  • 6 statewide programs
  • 700 academic researchers in 40 departments at 3 colleges and 1 professional school:

UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources
UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
UC Riverside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

About CENIC   www.cenic.org

CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research & Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students, together with educators, researchers, and other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC's Charter Associates are part of the world's largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California's Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.



Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 1:07 PM
Tags: CENIC (1), Gabe Youtsey (3), Internet (1), Jeff Dahlberg (3), network (1)

Citizen scientists can help track wild pigs with new UC mobile app

Disturbed soil shows signs of wild pig activity in this vineyard. Photo by Roger Baldwin

Whether you call them wild hogs, feral pigs, feral hogs, wild boars, Russian boars or Eurasian boars, by any name the hairy beasts are wrecking crews on California lands. In rangelands, forests and farms, wild pigs trample crops, prey on farm animals and rip up soil with their sharp tusks, contributing to erosion.

App users can upload photos of wild pig damage.
To assess the extent of wild pig damage to rural property in California, UC Cooperative Extension scientists are conducting a survey of landowners, land managers and farmers statewide. They have created a GIS-based mobile app that works on Android and Apple devices to make it easy to participate in the study. 

“Rangeland managers and farmers can enter data into the app from the field so that we can estimate the land area and economic impacts of feral pig damage over a longer time period,” said Roger Baldwin, UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist in the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UC Davis.

Here's how it works. To file a report, users take photos of the wild pig damage, describe the damage and note the number of pigs seen. The app will map the acreage and geographic location. Cell service is not required at the site to collect data.

When the user is connected to wi-fi or cell service, the data and photos will be uploaded to the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources server so Baldwin and John Harper, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor, can analyze the data. Users will be able to see a map of wild pig damage, but to maintain user privacy, private property and user identities are blocked from the general public.

Wild pigs use wetlands and riparian resources for foraging and wallowing. UC Cooperative Extension scientists are trying to learn more about wild pig habitat and the sites the pigs are more likely to damage.

"The goal of the app is to demarcate wild pig damage, ultimately allowing us to relate this data to habitat features present at damage sites to determine the impact that these habitat components have, both on how pigs use the landscape and where damage is most likely to occur,” Baldwin said.

A short survey asks users to describe the damage and location.
Through the survey, the scientists will gain better insight into the amount of damage that wild pigs cause so they can offer advice to minimize losses. 

“The app, especially from a rangeland standpoint, will provide a large data set that will help us calculate acreage damaged,” said Harper, who is based in Mendocino and Lake counties. “Once that is available, we have tools, presently used for fire loss, that will allow us to calculate economic loss of forage due to the pigs. The end user would benefit in knowing that loss and policymakers would benefit from knowing the aggregate economic loss from a managed game animal.”

Wild pig populations and their associated damage are so widespread throughout California that statewide eradication efforts may not be possible, according to Baldwin. 

“We probably need to focus our limited resources on managing wild pigs in targeted areas that will provide the greatest benefit,” he said. “Information collected from this app will hopefully allow us to identify these areas, ultimately resulting in more effective and practical management of wild pigs in both agricultural and natural resource landscapes."

The wild pig damage app can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play. Development of the app was funded by the Renewable Resources Extension Act, a program of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Although the study is currently focused on California, the app could be adapted to work at a regional, national or international scale. Citizen scientists can also use the app to report wild pig damage they see around the state.

To participate in the wild pig damage project without the app, landowners and ranchers can fill out a short survey at http://ucanr.edu/wildpig2016.

The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. Individual identities and survey responses will be kept confidential and participation in the survey is entirely voluntary.

Posted on Friday, November 25, 2016 at 2:11 PM
Tags: Apps (3), John Harper (3), Roger Baldwin (3), wild pigs (2)

To solve deadly cattle disease, ranchers collaborate with UC researchers at UC ANR research center

UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center hosts cattle for research to commercialize vaccine

After more than 60 years of working closely with University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers to identify and learn how to manage a disease that causes the death of up to 90,000 calves annually, ranchers are optimistic that they are on the home stretch  to getting a vaccine that will protect cattle.

Caused by tick-borne bacteria, the disease commonly known as foothill abortion is a leading cause of economic loss for California beef producers. To combat the disease, the California Cattlemen's Association is sponsoring UC vaccine trials, now in the second year, in commercial herds throughout California, Nevada and Oregon, which will facilitate commercial licensing of the product. At the same time, the UC researchers are continuing studies at the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center to identify the best time to vaccinate and potential side effects of the vaccine on the animals' health. 

Through a 30-year partnership with the cattle industry, UC Davis veterinary immunologist Jeffrey Stott has been leading the effort to identify the organism causing the devastating disease and has successfully developed a live vaccine to protect cows against the disease. 

Sierra Foothill Research and Extension staff monitor the animals closely to evaluate how the vaccine improves calving success and calf health.

“The vaccine is huge for the industry,” said Tom Talbot, Bishop beef producer and livestock veterinarian. “I don't think we fully understand the magnitude of the economic loss suffered from aborted calves.”

While Talbot was attending the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis in the 1970s, his father purchased some cattle to breed in the mountains near Bakersfield. The following autumn, none of the calves from the Talbots' new heifers survived.

As an active member of the California Cattlemen's Association, Talbot has remained involved in the search for a cure.

While research trials demonstrated the vaccine was more than 95 percent in preventing the disease, UC researchers faced a major hurdle to making the vaccine commercially available to ranchers. USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics, which regulates animal vaccines, required detailed data on how the timing of vaccine delivery may impact embryo development following breeding. 

“Gathering this information was not going to be easy, as it required applying careful experimental control on when animals were bred relative to when the vaccine was delivered and making frequent observations on a very large number of animals,” said Jeremy James, UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center director.

The beef cattle industry and UC researchers realized that UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' 5,721-acre Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center would provide an ideal outdoor laboratory for the critical research. The Pajaroellobacter abortibovis bacterium and pajaroello ticks that transmit the bacteria to cows naturally occur in the foothill pastures and the facility has a full-time, onsite staff to monitor the animals and collect the data.

“We're bringing together industry members and researchers in a research center framework in way that hasn't been done before for vaccine development,” said James.

Pajarello ticks carry the Pajaroellobacter abortibovis bacterium, which causes foothill abortion disease in cattle.

The bacteria are endemic in California's coastal range and in the foothill regions of California, Southern Oregon and Northern Nevada.

Solano County-based Detar Livestock, which operates throughout California and part of Oregon, supplied 330 heifers for the experiment in 2014. Rancher Gabe Detar quickly recognized how this partnership might benefit industry across the state.

“They vaccinated half of them and there were zero abortions,” Detar said. “The cows without vaccinations had quite a few. It was a huge difference. The vaccine worked.”

This year Detar is contributing another 330 heifers. It takes 13 months to run an experiment because the vaccine has to be given to the heifer at least 60 days before she becomes pregnant, then it takes nine months until she gives birth to see if the calf survives.

In December, Stott and Myra Blanchard, a researcher with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, will begin inoculating cattle with the live vaccine for the disease, also known as epizootic bovine abortion.

The success of this research effort to defeat the cattle disease hinges on trust between the ranchers, UC scientists and the staff at the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center.

“The trust has to go in all directions,” James said. “The rancher has to trust that we'll take care of their animals because 300 cattle is a large investment. Likewise, the researchers have to trust the producers to supply the quantity and quality of animals they need to complete the work and for the staff at the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center to manage the animals exactly as required under their research protocols.”

The UC vaccine is highly effective at preventing cows that have been exposed to the Pajaroellobacter abortibovis bacteria from giving birth to stillborn calves.

Ranchers hope the vaccine will become commercially available soon to provide relief from foothill abortion disease. Until then, only the cattle participating in the research can receive the experimental vaccine.  

“The disease can kill upwards of 60 to 70 percent of fetuses in infected cattle, which can jeopardize a cattle producer's business,” said Stott.

Funding for the study has been provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the California Cattlemen's Association and a UC Proof of Concept Discovery Grant (grant ID no. 212263) from UC's Office of the President, with additional funding from the Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Research Endowment and the UC School of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Food Animal Health.

For more information on how to manage cattle to prevent foothill abortion disease, visit http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8566.pdf

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2016 at 12:48 PM

UC releases new cost study for growing winegrapes in North Coast

Cost estimates for growing pinot noir and chardonnay grapes in the Russian River Valley are now available.

A new study on the cost and returns of producing winegrapes in the North Coast region's Russian River Valley, an American Viticulture Area in Sonoma County, has been released by the UC Agricultural Issues Center and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The cultural practices described represent production operations and materials of a well-managed vineyard in this region. The costs, materials and practices shown in this study will not apply to all farms. The production focuses on two varieties, chardonnay and pinot noir. Growers, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and other agricultural associates provided input and reviewed the methods and findings of the study.

Grape production is strongly influenced by the vineyard's specific location within the valley and by weather that will significantly impact yield in some years
The hypothetical vineyard was established with the appropriate permits required by the County of Sonoma at the time it was developed and assumed to lie in the warmer edge of the Russian River Valley. The farm is owned and operated by the grower. The site has less than a 15 percent natural slope. In reality, production is strongly influenced by the vineyard's specific location within the valley and by weather that will significantly impact yield in some years. A vineyard management company is contracted to provide services such as specialized equipment and operators, and laborers for hand operations such as suckering, shoot thinning, tucking, harvesting and pruning.

The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for production of the winegrapes, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. Ranging analysis tables show profits over a range of prices and yields for each variety. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

The new study is titled “Sample Costs to Produce Winegrapes, Chardonnay and Pinot noir, North Coast Region Russian River Valley, Sonoma County – 2016.”

Free copies of this study and other sample cost of production studies for many commodities are available. To download the cost studies, visit the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu.

The cost and returns program is funded by the UC Agricultural Issues Center, which is part of UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact the Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651, Donald Stewart at destewart@ucdavis.edu or Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sonoma County, at (707) 565-2621 or rhsmith@ucanr.edu.


Posted on Friday, November 18, 2016 at 11:25 AM

4-H Youth Development team wins national diversity award

From left, Keith Nathaniel, Fe Moncloa, Shannon Horrillo, Russell Hill and Dorina Espinoza. The UC ANR 4-H youth development professionals won the National Extension Diversity Award for systematically enhancing the intercultural competency of 4-H personnel and others in California.

UC 4-H Youth Development advisors Dorina Espinoza, Russell Hill, Fe Moncloa and Keith Nathaniel and 4-H associate director Shannon Horrillo have won the National Extension Diversity Award for systematically enhancing the intercultural competency of 4-H personnel and others in California. The National Extension Diversity Award was presented Sunday, Nov. 13, at the 129th Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. 

The award, given by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cooperative Extension System and the APLU, honors the team for developing and institutionalizing a professional development strategy to increase staff and academics' intercultural competence.  

To support the development and well-being of California's culturally and ethnically diverse youth population, research indicates that building intercultural competence among youth development professionals is critical.

At a 4-H event, children discuss their dream community. Efforts to make 4-H programs more accessible have led to Latino children participation increasing by more than 40 percent.
The cultural training is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resource's effort to attract a more diverse group of children to participate in the 4-H Youth Development Program.

 “We have been making changes to our programs to remove barriers and make 4-H more accessible. We are also testing new delivery models to expand 4-H's reach, particularly among Latino youth and families,” Horrillo said.

“This effort has been extremely successful and we are seeing the benefits in our membership,” said Horrillo. “The program's growth over the last year was significant, with a 16 percent increase in youth participation and a nearly 42 percent increase in Latino youth participation.”

 “We asked Latino parents how we can help,” said Lupita Fabregas, assistant director for 4-H Diversity and Expansion. “Working parents suggested after school programs so they don't have to drive their kids to a different location.”

Through a pilot initiative in seven counties – Riverside, Orange, Kern, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Merced and Sonoma counties – UC ANR's  4-H Youth Development Program now offers in-school, after school and special interest clubs that explore subjects such as robotics. Children can join clubs that focus on projects for four to six weeks, rather than 4-H's year-long commitment. Bilingual and bicultural program representatives provide materials in English for the children and Spanish for parents. Although the activities are structured differently, they aim to teach Latino children science, leadership, civic engagement and other life skills taught through the traditional program.

The team of change agents applied the professional development strategy over three years, providing 176 hours of intercultural communication feedback sessions, learning communities and regional conferences to enhance the intercultural competence of 65 California 4-H personnel.  

Children exercise during a 4-H summer camp in Sonoma County. 4-H has expanded its club topics and locations.
Using the Intercultural Development Inventory© to assess intercultural competence after the training, evaluations showed that UC 4-H Youth Development Program personnel had acquired skills and characteristics to become more culturally competent. The program has moved from focusing on similarities among diverse people, which can mask deeper recognition of cultural differences, to recognizing the complex dimensions of diversity.

The UC ANR 4-H Youth Development Program has also assembled an advisory committee for 4-H multicultural and community engagement that includes Latino leaders Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, a professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis and director of the Center for Advancing Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS); Steven Olmos, chief schools officer for Santa Clara County Office of Education; Albert Maldonado Jr., youth program manager for The California Endowment; and Juan P. Garcia, deputy director of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.

UC ANR's action plan and resulting positive change provides a model for 4-H in other states to improve professional development and expand the program's reach. A summary of California's IDI professional development activities can be found in the National 4-H Latino Youth Outreach: Best Practices Toolkit, Professional Development.


Posted on Monday, November 14, 2016 at 11:41 AM

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