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

News Feed

UC Cooperative Extension water experts can provide drought commentary

With the ongoing interest in the California drought and water issues in general, the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is pleased to offer the following expert sources to assist in your coverage.

We've selected UC ANR specialists and advisors from throughout the state who possess a wide range of research and scientific expertise related to water and agriculture, and who have agreed to serve as interview subjects as their time and schedules permit. One of our experts is fluent in Spanish. Another is fluent in Italian.

Please contact a member of the UC ANR news and media staff with additional questions.


Jim Baird, Ph.D.
UC ANR Cooperative Extension turfgrass management specialist, based at UC Riverside
(951) 827-5630
cell (951) 333-9052

Dave Fujino, Ph.D.
Executive director, California Center for Urban Horticulture, based at UC Davis
(530) 754-7739

Thomas Harter, Ph.D.
UC ANRCooperative Extension groundwater hydrologist, based at UC Davis
(530) 752-2709

Loren Oki, Ph.D.
UC ANR Cooperative Extension landscape horticulture specialist, based at UC Davis
(530) 754-4135

Doug Parker, Ph.D.
Director, California Institute for Water Resources
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist, statewide water policy
(510) 987-0036

Dan Putnam, Ph.D.
UC ANR Cooperative Extension agronomy specialist, based at UC Davis

Samuel Solis Sandoval, Ph.D.
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist (speaks fluent Spanish), based at UC Davis
Municipal and agricultural water use
(530) 754-9646

Daniel Sumner, Ph.D.
UC ANR agricultural economist, based at UC Davis
Director, UC Agricultural Issues Center
(530) 752-1668

Daniele Zaccaria, Ph.D. (Out of the country till May 7; speaks fluent Italian)
UC ANR Cooperative Extension water management specialist, based at UC Davis
(530) 219-7502 cell (email first)

Central Valley

David Doll
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Merced County
almonds, pistachios, walnuts
(209) 385-7403
Twitter: @thealmonddoctor

Allan Fulton
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Tehama, Colusa, Glenn and Shasta counties
Irrigation and water resources
(530) 527-3101
(530) 200-2246 cell

Craig Kallsen
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Kern County
Citrus and pistachios
(661) 868-6221

Robert Hutmacher, Ph.D.
UC ANR Cooperative Extension agronomic crops specialist
Director, UC West Side Research and Extension Center
(559) 260-8957

Dan Munk
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Fresno County
Irrigation and drainage
(559) 241-7521
(559) 284-6674 cell

Karrie Reid
UC ANR Cooperative Extension Environmental horticulture advisor, San Joaquin County
Landscaping under drought conditions
(209) 953-6109

Blake Sanden
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Kern County
Irrigation, soil, water
(661) 868-6218

Central Coast

Michael Cahn
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties
Irrigation and water resources, vegetables and berries
(831) 759-7377

Southern California

Janet Hartin
UC ANR Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Riverside counties
Landscape and turfgrass irrigation/graywater use
(951) 313-2023

Darren Haver, Ph.D.
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Orange County
Landscaping and drought
(949) 653-1814
Twitter: @DHaverUCANR

Dennis Pittenger
UC ANR Cooperative Extension area environmental horticulturist, based at UC Riverside
Landscape irrigation management
(951) 827-3320

Northern California

Steve Orloff
UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor, Siskiyou County
Alfalfa and irrigated pasture
(530) 842-2711


Posted on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 9:24 AM
Tags: drought (13)

Drought issues will be part of University of California desert field day

A previous field day at the UC Desert Research and Extension Center.
An update on the California drought tops the agenda for the Agronomic Crops and Water Conservation Field Day, 7 a.m. to 12 noon April 16 at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources research and extension center in the Imperial Valley.

Presentations will be made at six stops on a tour of the UC Desert Research and Extension Center, 1004 E. Holton Rd., Holtville. Visitors will see alfalfa produced with subsurface irrigation, an approach that cuts water use by reducing evaporation from the soil surface.

Research results from variety trials and deficit irrigation studies will be presented. In deficit irrigation, water is withheld at specific times during the crop's development so that yield loss is minimized despite water cutbacks.

In addition to alfalfa research, the field day includes presentations on oil crops, bell peppers, sugarbeets, giant king grass and sorghum. Irrigation technology and insect control will also be discussed.

The complete agenda is posted online on the UC Alfalfa and Forage News Blog. The event is free and includes lunch courtesy of mOasis, a company that produces a product designed to optimize water usage in agriculture. Continuing education credit is available for certified crop advisers and pest control advisers.

The field day is sponsored by UC Cooperative Extension in Imperial County and the California Department of Water Resources. To reserve lunch or for more information, email Kahled Bali at kmbali@ucanr.edu or Oli Bachie at obachie@ucanr.edu.

An initiative to improve California water quality, quantity and security is part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Posted on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 2:57 PM
Tags: alfalfa (4), desert (1)

UC researchers awarded nearly $2 million for childhood obesity prevention project

Students who use the SmartMeal app to pre-order nutritious meals will be able to pick up food at an express location.
Researchers at the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources' Nutrition Policy Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public Health will use a nearly $2 million childhood obesity prevention grant from the U.S.  Department of Agriculture to evaluate a two-year school meal technology and design innovation project developed by the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). The project will measure the impact of 21st century student-centered strategies based on behavioral economics to increase student participation in the school lunch  program, reduce plate waste, improve dietary intake and reduce obesity among low-income youth.

The “Technology and Design Innovation to Support 21st Century School Nutrition” project will assess the impact of using a “SmartMeal” technology platform, distributed points of sale and staff promotion of school meals at 12 SFUSD middle and high schools. Sixty percent of the district's students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, as part of the National School Lunch Program, the country's largest child nutrition program. The researchers say that improving dietary intake among low-income youth is essential to reducing obesity, and schools are arguably the most important venue for change. 

“Improving school meals is critical for addressing social inequities to healthful food access, said Lorrene Ritchie, Ph.D., RD, UCANR Nutrition Policy Institute director, Cooperative Extension specialist and co-primary investigator. “Poor nutrition is a primary cause of the obesity epidemic that threatens the health of American children, especially in low-income communities. We are targeting schools for interventions because most school-age children spend half of their waking hours and consume up to half of their daily calories in school.”

Mobile food carts will help students avoid long cafeteria lines.
The project will use cutting-edge strategies reflecting scientific knowledge about behavior change among teens to increase school meal participation and reduce plate waste. For example, research has shown that convenience is a primary determinant of student behavior, and long meal lines and hectic cafeterias are a barrier to student participation. The project seeks to circumvent these hassles by giving students access to healthy foods in mobile food carts and vending machines outside the cafeteria. It also will feature a SmartMeal e-application that delivers nutrition education and school meal promotion to students on their smart phones and tablet computers provided by the district. Students who use the app to pre-order nutritious meals will be able to bypass long lines by going to an express food pick-up location.

“This project will test whether we can change behavior by addressing the reality of today's adolescent lifestyles,” said Kristine Madsen, MD, associate professor in the School of Public Health and co-primary investigator.

“Mobile phones are ubiquitous among teens from diverse economic backgrounds, which makes this technology an ideal tool for promoting healthful food choices and nutrition education.”

The Nutrition Policy Institute was created in 2014 by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the division of the University of California charged with sharing research-based information with the public about healthy communities, nutrition, agricultural production and environmental stewardship. NPI seeks to improve nutrition and health in low-income communities in California and the nation by engaging in research and communications that inform, build and strengthen policy. Visit NPI online at http://npi.ucanr.edu. SFUSD's Future Dining Experience (http://www.sfusdfuturedining.org/) is funded by USDA and the Sara & Evan Williams Foundation.

Posted on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 12:12 PM

Workshops aim to boost local and regional food businesses with federal grants

UC ANR workshops will teach effective grant-writing skills to those interested in promoting locally and regionally produced foods and food businesses.
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) will offer workshops in Berkeley, Davis, Modesto and Redding to teach effective grant-writing skills to those interested in promoting locally and regionally produced foods and food businesses.

The workshops are designed to help potential applicants understand, develop and submit federal grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion programs. The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized this program, which will provide $30 million in grants each year through 2018. The funds will be divided between the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program.

The workshop instructor is Jennifer Sowerwine, a UC ANR specialist based at UC Berkeley whose research and extension is focused on development of equitable, economically viable and culturally relevant food systems in metropolitan areas.

“The workshop is open to anyone interested in connecting agricultural producers and consumers through local food systems,” Sowerwine said. “This is a great opportunity to strengthen the local economy, support small-scale farmers, and make fresh, healthy food more accessible to the community.”

The workshops are a collaborative effort involving UC ANR, USDA and Regional Rural Development Centers. They will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. as follows:

April 8 - Berkeley. 155 Kroeber Hall at UC Berkeley

April 10 - Modesto. Stanislaus County Ag Center, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto

April 15 - Davis. UC ANR Building, 2801 Second St., Davis

April 22 - Redding. North Valley Catholic Social Services, 2400 Washington Ave., Redding

Each of the workshops will provide an overview of the grant programs and help in developing project ideas, preparing the proposal and completing the application. All applications much be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern May 14. Sowerwine suggests applicants start the application process as soon as possible to ensure they meet the deadline. To apply, go to http://www.grants.gov. Questions about the process will be addressed at the workshop.

Registration is $10 and includes lunch, training materials and resources. The agenda, details and online registration are on the web at http://ucanr.edu/sites/localfoodpromo. For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Sowerwine at (510) 664-7043, jsowerwi@berkeley.edu. For information about workshop logistics, contact Alex Zabelin, (530) 750-1259, or Saundra Wais, (530) 750-1260, or email anrprogramsupport@ucanr.edu.

The University of California Global Food Initiative aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC's 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2015 at 9:29 AM

Nutrition Policy Institute urges USDA to make water “first for thirst”

NPI urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture to add a symbol for water to its MyPlate graphic.
UC experts say adding water to MyPlate graphic could help prevent childhood obesity

The U.S. government should promote plain drinking water as the beverage of choice, according to comments submitted today by the University of California's Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) at a public meeting for oral testimony on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The institute also urged the U.S. Department
of Agriculture to add a symbol for water to its MyPlate graphic.

NPI experts said the government should employ strong language encouraging consumption of plain drinking water as a strategy in the fight against childhood obesity. Studies have established that Americans' single largest source of added sugars is sugar-sweetened beverages, that sugar-sweetened beverages are among the top sources of calories for U.S. children and teens, and that there are income and racial disparities in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.

“It is clear from the evidence that a major contributor to obesity is sugary drinks,” said NPI Director Lorrene Ritchie. “And the healthiest alternative to sugary drinks is plain water.”

NPI noted that the Advisory Committee's 2015 scientific report said, “Strategies are needed to encourage the U.S. population to drink water when they are thirsty.” MyPlate – the infographic used by USDA to portray the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – is the “ideal platform” from which to encourage water consumption, according to NPI. In its comments, the institute said, “the addition of a water symbol will enable MyPlate to promote water consumption along with its other strong messages about a healthy diet.”

Ritchie said NPI is encouraging the public to join them in sending a message to the government. “Tell Washington to make water first for thirst and ask the USDA to reinforce it with an icon for water on MyPlate,” she said.

NPI developed a “Take Action!” page on its website with easy-to-follow guidelines for submitting comments on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The “Take Action!” web page is located at http://npi.ucanr.edu/water.

The Nutrition Policy Institute was created in 2014 by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the division of the University of California system charged with sharing research-based information with the public about healthy communities, nutrition, agricultural production and environmental stewardship. The institute seeks to improve eating habits and reduce obesity, hunger and chronic disease risk in California children and their families and beyond. Visit NPI online at http://npi.ucanr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 8:30 AM

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