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

Connie Schneider retires from post as ANR’s Youth, Families and Communities director

Connie Schneider.
The well-being of people has been a career-long passion for Connie Schneider, who retired Aug. 27 from her current role as director of Youth, Families and Communities (YFC) Programs for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“California has the highest producing agricultural industry in the world, but there are too many children and families living here in poverty and hunger,” Schneider said. “So many of our youth do not graduate from high school and do not have opportunities to enhance their interests, skills and abilities. With ANR's youth, family and community programs, we're trying to take care of our own.”

Schneider came to ANR over 10 years ago as an academic coordinator for a large regional nutrition grant and within a year was hired as the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County. In 2011, she was promoted to her position leading ANR's Youth, Families and Communities (YFC), which includes statewide nutrition education programs and the 4-H Youth Development program. Schneider praised her YFC team and their aim to provide support to county programs and coordinate with other ANR programs that contribute to healthy communities, such as ANR's nine Research and Extension Centers.

As a registered dietitian, Schneider worked for more than 20 years with individuals, hospitals, and communities in areas related to life span nutrition, diabetes, heart health and food management. She has a doctorate degree in food and nutrition management from Oregon State University and served as a nutrition professor at Fresno State from 2002 to 2005.

As the YFC director, Schneider and the YFC team have been developing new internal and external partnerships to facilitate the extension of UC ANR's research-proven healthy-living strategies to a larger audience in California.  

“We are in exciting times right now,” Schneider said. “We are partners with two large grants. One is with UC Berkeley, UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute and the San Francisco School District to test a smart phone app that will provide youth with school lunch menu as well as nutrition messages. The second is with UC Davis. Our component is working with UC Davis Medical Center pediatric unit to provide our Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program to their patients.”

“UC ANR advisors and specialists are working all around California developing relationships and making connections,” Schneider said. “We have the healthy living initiative in 4-H, which considers youth health holistically. There are nutrition programs in senior centers, schools, parks and recreation facilities, and other community agencies working with partners to empower people with knowledge and skills to improve their nutritional health. 4-H engages youth in afterschool programs, camps, service learning projects, and community clubs helping young people find their spark, making science citizenship activities exciting and fulfilling. When you pull this all together, you see the strength of Cooperative Extension.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 9:47 AM

Drought tips available for farmers

Drought strategies are available for growing alfalfa and other crops.
Drought strategies for managing alfalfa and many other crops are available free from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. As California endures a fourth year of drought and ever-tightening water supplies, water-management strategies have become even more critical to farmers.

To help farmers make the best use of the water they have available, a series of new and updated drought tips fact sheets has been developed by UC ANR scientists and funded by the California Department of Water Resources.  

“These drought tips provide irrigation management recommendations for a broad range of agricultural crops and under different water supply conditions,” said Daniele Zaccaria, UC ANR Cooperative Extension agricultural water management specialist at UC Davis and major organizer of the drought tip series. “The information in these tips will be of practical use for growers and other water-related stakeholders now and into the future as our agricultural community continues to adapt to climate variability and to a changing water supply situation.”

UC ANR scientists have identified best management practices for a wide range of annual and permanent crops and irrigation systems and methods during the drought. In the drought tips series, they also give advice for managing soil salinity and using shallow groundwater for irrigating crops.  For beef cattle, they provide recommendations for culling herds and feeding to supplement grazing.

The following drought tips are currently available for free download at http://ucanr.edu/drought-tips:

  • Drought strategies for alfalfa
  • Drought management for California almonds
  • Use of shallow groundwater for crop production
  • Drought strategies for walnuts
  • Fog contribution to crop water use
  • Reclaiming Saline, Sodic and Saline-Sodic Soils

As fog passes through an orchard, some of the water is intercepted by trees. (Photo: CC by-nc-nd 2.0)
Several more drought tips for dozens of commodities and situations are in the process of being published and will be posted online soon.

Decades of UC ANR research underlie the information contained in the drought tips. In the 1970s and again in the 1990s, UC ANR partnered with DWR to develop a series of drought management fact sheets.

“DWR has worked with UC ANR to update the drought tips and make sure the latest and best information on water management is available to growers,” said Peter Brostrom, DWR Water Use Efficiency Section Manager.

The California Institute for Water Resources, which coordinates water-related research and extension education across the 10 UC campuses and UCANR, has the drought tips and more drought resources online at http://ciwr.ucanr.edu.

“Even if El Niño brings rain this fall, water scarcity will continue to impact California farmers,” said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. “As climate change continues to reduce the average annual snowpack, it is likely that droughts in California will become more frequent and severe in the years to come.”

UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources and the California Department of Water Resources also offer drought-related information in a series of videos. Water experts from UC and other agencies and institutions have recorded presentations on high-priority drought topics. Currently 38 videos can be accessed for free on computers and mobile devices at http://ucanr.edu/insights.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and educators draw on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. Learn more at ucanr.edu

Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 8:48 AM

UC offers spray application training Sept. 22-23 in Davis

protective spray gear
Farmers, pest control advisers, pesticide applicators and others who use agricultural spray equipment are invited to attend an agricultural spray application workshop on Sept. 22 and 23. The two-day workshop, hosted by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be held at the Western Center for Agricultural Equipment at 154 Hills Drive in Davis.

The intensive, hands-on workshop will be led by Ken Giles, professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis; Franz Niederholzer, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties; and Lynn Wunderlich, UC  ANR Cooperative Extension advisor for the Central Sierra region.

The UC ANR instructors will train participants to identify the appropriate spray equipment components, practices and conditions necessary to deliver safe and effective agricultural pest control to a particular location, timing and crop.

The workshop will cover nozzles and atomization, the dynamics of drift and how spray droplets move, factors affecting spray deposition, hydraulic nozzle alternatives (electrostatic, air shear, etc.), measuring spray coverage, pumps, sprayer selection, air-assisted spraying and more.

Before the class, to fully prepare, registrants should view a short, online PowerPoint presentation about basic sprayer calibration. A link to the PowerPoint will be sent in the registration confirmation email. A brief quiz on the material will be given at the beginning of class on Sept. 22. 

The training is set to begin at 12 noon on Sept. 22, resuming at 8 a.m. on Sept. 23 and end at 2 p.m.

Registration for the training costs $150 until Sept. 12 and $175 after Sept. 12 and can be paid online at the registration website. Onsite registration will cost $200. The organizers have applied for CDPR Continuing Education units.

To register or to get more information, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/Spray_Application_Training.

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 6:57 PM

UC studies estimate cost of production for six crops

Organic strawberries is one of six crops for which production cost estimates are now available.
Six new studies outlining the cost of production and estimated revenue for orchard and field crops have been released by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The crops include lemons and oranges, field corn, paddy rice, silage corn and strawberries.

Each analysis is based upon a hypothetical farm operation using practices common to the region. Input and reviews were provided by growers, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and other agricultural associates. The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for individual crops, material inputs and cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. 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 studies for establishing orchards to produce lemons and oranges estimate costs for growing in Kern and Tulare counties. Revenue for the citrus is based on estimated sales to the fresh packaging market.  

The study for organic strawberries takes into consideration growing conditions on the Central Coast of California and complying with the National Organic Program. In particular, it focuses on growing organic strawberries in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties for the fresh packaging market.  

The study for producing paddy rice in the Sacramento Valley focuses on the costs of growing medium-grain rice, under a rice-only rotation in Butte, Colusa, Glenn and Yolo counties.  

The field corn study focuses on the production costs of a full-season corn crop in the Sacramento Valley and the northern San Joaquin Valley. This region would include Colusa, Glenn, Sacramento, Sutter and Yolo counties. The study based costs on a farm using furrow irrigation and Roundup Ready-GMO seed.

The study on silage corn, double cropped under conservation tillage methods, focuses on production costs of corn silage using minimum tillage operations in the northern San Joaquin Valley. The corn is planted in the spring after a winter forage crop is harvested. The study is based its costs on a farm using border/flood irrigation and Roundup Ready-GMO seed.

A young citrus orchard in Tulare County.
These new study titles are

  • “Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Lemons in the San Joaquin Valley-South-2015”
  • “Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Oranges in the San Joaquin Valley-South-2015”
  • “Sample Costs to Produce Organic Strawberries in the Central Coast Region-2014”
  • “Sample Costs to Produce Rice in the Sacramento Valley-2015” 
  • “Sample Costs to Produce Field Corn in the Sacramento Valley and Northern San Joaquin Valley-2015”  
  • “Sample Costs to Produce Silage Corn-Conservation Tillage Practices in the Northern San Joaquin Valley-2015”

These cost-of-production studies can be downloaded for free from the UC Davis Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics website http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample costs are also available for many other commodities. Many earlier production cost studies for agricultural commodities are also available at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/archived.php.

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Don Stewart, staff research associate in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Davis at (530) 752-4651, destewart@ucdavis.edu.


Posted on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at 9:13 AM
Tags: corn (3), corn (3), cost of production (3), cost studies (5), lemons (1), oranges (1), rice (3), Strawberries (3)

Aziz Baameur helps Bay Area ethnic family farmers

Aziz Baameur, center, discusses leafy greens production with Professor Qingquo Wang and grower Mike Lee.
“With one or two exceptions, I never dreaded going to work,” says Aziz Baameur, who retired from the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources in July after 31 years of service.

“Working with people who feed millions and millions of people is awesome!” exclaimed the UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor emeritus for Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. “Working with colleagues who share knowledge, willingly, is humbling. Working for an organization that, despite its imperfections, gets the best out of you is fulfilling.”

For the past three decades, Baameur has worked to help family farmers.

“Aziz has been a tremendous source of knowledge and information for South County growers like me,” said Pete Aiello, general manager of Uesugi Farms, Inc. in Santa Clara County.

“He has been especially helpful with my bell and chili pepper programs,” Aiello said. “From studies on irrigation efficiency to fertilizer uptake to pest management to varietal analysis, I've learned a lot about my own crops from Aziz, and have used this knowledge to improve yields and quality while decreasing inputs such as water and fertilizer.”

“This job is a gift from the gods,” Baameur said, adding, “I could have made more money – and faster – elsewhere, but I doubt I'd get the same fulfillment.”

Baameur, shown sniffing a jalapeño pepper, has conducted research on a wide variety of specialty crops.
Baameur joined UC ANR in 1984 as a UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Riverside and San Bernardino counties after earning bachelor's degrees in soil sciences and agronomy and an MS in horticulture, all from the University of Minnesota. He worked with farmers who grew field crops, vegetables and melons. He advised farmers on how to market their crops as well as how to grow them.

In 2002 he transferred to Santa Clara County, where he continued to work with small-scale farmers, many of them immigrants who grow berries, bell peppers and chili peppers and Asian vegetables such as Chinese broccoli (gailan), bok choy, baby bok choy, bitter melon, daikon, Chinese chive, waterspinach, and Chinese mustard greens.

Baameur and his colleagues conducted research on specialty crops. For example, they evaluated 10 varieties of mini watermelons to provide farmers with data about how the varieties grow in different climates, their yields and quality characteristics.

An immigrant himself from Morocco, Baameur frequently brought interpreters to his meetings to translate his talks for Cantonese- and Spanish-speaking clients.

In 2005, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board began an agricultural waiver program for water discharge, requiring that participating farmers manage their irrigation and run-off water quality. To earn the conditional waiver, growers had to complete a series of agricultural water-quality short courses. By offering the courses in Cantonese, Baameur enabled about 75 small-scale ethnic Chinese farmers to learn how to produce cleaner water run-off and reduce water waste, and thus earn the waiver.

An ethnic Chinese vegetable grower in Santa Clara County who had heard about changes in food safety regulations was concerned that although she did not speak very much English, she was expected to develop a plan and obtain a food safety certification, and that otherwise her sales contracts would be cancelled. To help her and other Chinese growers better understand the new regulations, Baameur developed a training program complete with a bilingual handbook and sample templates. He also helped her to prepare for audits and create a food safety plan specific to her farm.

“I get enormous satisfaction from the fact that I don't sell and I don't buy and I don't advertise products,” Baameur said. “The relationships are based on trust; that has no tangible value. Once in a while, when we help someone out of a tough situation and they smile and thank you, it's like a prayer sung in the still of dawn. Gives you shivers.”

“We will miss his technical expertise and his infectiously great attitude,” said Aiello of Uesugi Farms. “The UC Cooperative Extension has some big shoes to fill!”

Baameur's most recent research has been focused on trying to grow spicier jalapeño peppers by fine-tuning the amount of nitrogen applied to the plants. In retirement, he is finishing his research, but plans to pursue a few hobbies – writing, drawing, painting and photograph – and to stay physically active by hiking, biking and camping.

Baameur and his wife of 41 years, Kathy, look forward to having more time to volunteer in the community. He has joined the board of directors of San Jose-based Abrahamic Alliance International, an organization that brings together Jews, Christians and Muslims to serve the poor.


Posted on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 1:55 PM
Tags: Aziz Baameur (2), Small Farms (2)

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