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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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

Cousins, McNicol named UC Sustainability Fellows

Gavin McNicol
Two University of California students will be working with scientists in the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) to study climate and sustainability in support of UC's goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025.

UC ANR has chosen Gavin McNicol and Stella Cousins, both UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidates, to receive UC President's Sustainability Student Fellowships.

“Our search for new ways to reduce UC's and California's carbon footprint is sure to benefit from the creativity and innovative ideas brought by these two exceptional student fellows,” said Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

McNicol, a native of Scotland, is studying how much methane is released from restored wetlands in the Sacramento Delta region. The results of his research will inform the development of future wetland restoration plans, encouraging more effective efforts to minimize emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Stella Cousins
Cousins, a Californian from Ceres and an alumna of UC ANR's 4-H Program in Stanislaus County, is examining how forest mortality and standing dead trees impact the pools and fluxes of carbon in California's mixed conifer forests. Her research results will improve the accuracy and completeness of forest carbon accounting and greenhouse gas budgets for California's changing forests.

The UC Office of the President is providing $7,500 to each of UC's 10 campuses and to the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, earmarked to fund student awards in support of the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative and other UC-based sustainability efforts.

An initiative to enhance competitive and sustainable food systems is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.



ANR sustainability fellowship recipients Gavin McNicol and Stella Cousins.

Posted on Monday, March 23, 2015 at 11:48 AM

From fracking to water affordability, UC takes on new water-related research

Lake Mendocino in 1977. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark.
Which California communities are more likely to vote down hydraulic fracturing? Are efforts to make safe, affordable drinking water more accessible working? These are among the questions University of California scientists are trying to answer with six new research projects funded by the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' California Institute for Water Resources.

High-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a form of natural gas and oil extraction, is water-intensive and could exacerbate water stress. Gwen Arnold, professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis, is examining efforts to locally restrict high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

“There's a lot of concern over water pollution and water use in communities,” said Doug Parker, UC ANR California Institute for Water Resources director. “We're looking at the characteristics of communities that have voted on measures to restrict the practice of fracking, both where the measures have failed and where they've passed.”

Parker expects that people on either side of the issue will be able to use the study's finding to better understand differing viewpoints. Decision-makers who may be contemplating policy action on fracking will also benefit from seeing the range of relevant policies passed by other jurisdictions and the conditions that appear to favor or discourage adoption of the policies.

Another research project is assessing the Integrated Regional Water Management approach to address the lack of safe and affordable water in disadvantaged communities throughout the state. In 2011, the California Department of Water Resources funded seven pilot projects to develop models for improving water supplies for these communities.

“We want to take a look at how well Integrated Regional Water Management worked, whether it is meeting the needs of providing safe, affordable drinking water,” Parker said.

Jonathan London, professor in the Department of Human Ecology and director of the Center for Regional Change at UC Davis, and Carolina Balazs, UC presidential postdoctoral research fellow at UC Davis, are evaluating the impact of those efforts in Inyo-Mono counties, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles County, Kings Basin, North Coast, Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley.

The Salton Sea, which provides habitat for pelicans and other migratory birds, is shrinking and exposing more soil.
UC scientists also received funding for the following projects:

Learn more about these and other California Institute for Water Resources research projects by visiting http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/CIWR_Making_a_difference.

The California Institute for Water Resources integrates California's research, extension, and education programs to develop research-based solutions to the state's water resource challenges. An initiative to maintain and enhance healthy families and communities is part of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.


New UC studies outline costs of producing apples and alfalfa hay

Alfalfa field irrigated with subsurface drip.
New studies on the cost and return of growing processing apples for juice and cider are available from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension.  

The apple studies focus on production costs on the Central Coast, in the Freedom Region of the Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County. One study shows production costs for organically grown apples and the other for conventionally grown apples for processing into juice and cider.

The major differences between the two companion studies are in fertilizer, pest control, yield and farm gate price. 

A new cost and return study for growing alfalfa hay under subsurface drip irrigation is also available from UC ANR Cooperative Extension.

The alfalfa hay study focuses on stand establishment and production costs over a six-year stand life using subsurface drip irrigation in the Sacramento Valley and northern Delta.

Each analysis is based upon a hypothetical farm operation using practices common to the region. Input and reviews were provided by consultants, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisors, growers, pest control advisers, real estate appraisers and other agricultural associates. Assumptions used to identify current costs for individual crops, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead are described. 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.

Sample Costs to Produce Processing Apples, Various Varieties, in the Central Coast-Freedom Region-Pajaro Valley, Santa Cruz County - 2014, Sample Costs to Produce Organic Processing Apples, Various Varieties, in the Central Coast-Freedom Region-Pajaro Valley, Santa Cruz County - 2014, Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Alfalfa Hay in the Sacramento Valley and Northern Delta Using Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI)-2014 and other sample production-cost studies for many commodities are available online and can be downloaded from the UC Davis Agriculture & Resource Economics Department website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Some archived studies are also available at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/archived.php.

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in these studies contact Karen Klonsky, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at UC Davis, at (530) 752-3589 or klonsky@primal.ucdavis.edu, or Don Stewart, staff research associate, at (530) 752-4651 or destewart@ucdavis.edu.

For more than 100 years, University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 12:14 PM

From superweeds to Pierce’s disease: California Agriculture reports on fighting diseases and pests

This issue of California Agriculture focuses on pests and diseases.
California agriculture is unique and diverse — and so are its pest and disease problems. Take herbicide resistance. While in the rest of the country herbicide resistance problems center on broadleaf weeds in corn, soy and wheat, in California the greatest problems are found in grasses and sedges in orchards, vineyards and rice fields. Herbicide resistance among California crops also varies widely. In vegetable fields, for instance, resistance is not a serious problem and is unlikely to become one.

An article in the current issue of California Agriculture, the peer-reviewed journal from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, examines the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds in California and shows how UC researchers and Cooperative Extension specialists are helping growers to understand and manage the factors that drive it.

Five more articles in this special issue of California Agriculture highlight the work of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources on pests and diseases that threaten the state's people, agriculture and natural resources. The commitments to research and outreach profiled in the issue include the Endemic and Invasive Pests Strategic Initiative, the UC Statewide IPM Program and several successful collaborations with regulatory agencies and the agricultural community.

European grapevine moth
Excluding pests and pathogens

Diagnostics in animal health: How UC helps exclude and minimize impact of livestock pathogens

Whether it's pinkeye, bluetongue or poisonous plants, UC maintains a strong network of laboratories and field experts to protect livestock health in California.

Plant health: How diagnostic networks and interagency partnerships protect plant systems from pests and pathogens

Regional alliances of federal, state and university plant diagnostic labs work together to identify and control disease spread.

Managing newly established pests

Growers, scientists and regulators collaborate on European grapevine moth program

A regulatory program coordinated by government agencies, scientists and growers successfully contained an infestation that threatened California vineyards.

Pierce's disease symptoms on grapevine.
Cooperative efforts controlled spread of Pierce's disease and found genetic resistance

The 1999 arrival in California of a new Pierce's disease vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, posed a major new threat to California vineyards and orchards. A 15-year collaborative effort has successfully contained the sharpshooter and led to major improvements in our understanding of the biology of Pierce's disease, including promising advances in the development of disease-resistant grapevine lines.

Maintaining long-term management

Herbicide-resistant weeds challenge some signature cropping systems

Little or no crop rotation and limited herbicide options have contributed to the rise of herbicide-resistant weeds in orchards, vineyards and rice fields.

Over 35 years, integrated pest management has reduced pest risks and pesticide use

The UC Integrated Pest Management Program helps provide management solutions for invasive pests that destabilize IPM programs in agricultural and urban landscapes.

E-edition research article

The cost of the glassy-winged sharpshooter to California grape, citrus and nursery producers

The spread of the invasive insect in the late 1990s led to increased costs and changes in agricultural practices for grape, citrus and nursery producers.

These articles and the entire October-December 2014 issue are available at http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu.

California Agriculture is the University of California's peer-reviewed journal of research in agricultural, human and natural resources. For a free subscription, go to http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu or write to calag@ucanr.edu.

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is the bridge between local issues and the power of UC research. UC ANR's advisors, specialists and faculty bring practical, science-based answers to Californians. Visit ucanr.edu to learn more.



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