- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, six UC scientists have written letters to their successors at Kearney to be read when the center celebrates its centennial in 2065.
Center director Jeff Dahlberg, who will be 108 years old in 2065, predicted in his letter that today's modern technology – smart phones and computers – will be ditched by then in favor of holographic demonstrations about new plants and agronomic practices.
“You'll be able to see, in 3-D, how plant systems function, how genes work, and what happens when you turn a gene off or on and the cascading effects of those actions,” Dahlberg predicted.
A time capsule containing the letters will be buried on May 26, exactly 50 years after the May 26, 1965, dedication of the sprawling research station near Parlier in the Central San Joaquin Valley. It will also contain a 20-foot-long banner with a timeline showing significant research accomplishments at Kearney. The banner will have signatures and messages from all the invited attendees at the 50th anniversary celebration on May 26, 2015.
Kearney is one of nine agricultural research and extension facilities UC Agriculture and Natural Resources maintains in California. The northernmost is on the Oregon border near Tulelake; the southernmost is in Holtville, a short drive from the border with Mexico. Centers are found in the Sierra foothills, in the North Coast and in suburban Southern California. Each center represents local conditions and focuses on crops and activities important in the area.
At the 330-acre UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, scientists conduct research on a diversity of Central San Joaquin Valley crops, including grapes, stone fruit, almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, kiwi fruit, blueberries, alfalfa and more recently sorghum. Twenty Ph.D.-level scientists are based at the center, where they conduct research in pest control, new crop varieties, plant disease control and irrigation strategies.
A scientist who joined the staff in 2013, Kris Tollerup, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor with the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM), will be looking for some answers from his successors.
“Growers and pest control advisors are reluctant to adopt new IPM practices until they are well proven,” Tollerup wrote. “I am curious, do you face the same challenge?”
Since Tollerup will be 105 when the time capsule is opened, his young children, who will be 54 and 58 in 2065, may have to collect the responses for him.
UC IPM advisor Pete Goodell, who with 34 years of service to UC ANR is approaching retirement, had sage advice for successors that might continue to be bombarded with modern conveniences.
“My advice,” Goodell wrote. “Get out of the office and get to the farm . . . Create and nourish human networks as well as virtual ones.”
Goodell tells his successors that, no matter the technological advances that are sure to come, knowledge transfer will always be based on personal contact and trust.
“Humans, even in your time, are high touch species who thrive on social interaction,” he said.
The other three letters going in the time capsule include these quotes:
“I assume that (nematodes) still will be around when you read this letter. At least this is something that I tell my students: ‘nematode problems will outlive us.'” – Andreas Westphal, UC ANR Cooperative Extension nematology specialist.
“Release of genetically modified mosquitoes carrying sex lethal genes has been approved on a relatively small scale in a few countries. I wonder if this method of control will be better perceived in the future and become the norm?” – Anthony Cornel, entomologist and director of the Mosquito Lab at Kearney.
“It will be interesting to see how the citrus industry adapts to the (Asian citrus psyllid/huanglongbing) situation. Growers are very creative people and I believe they will find a way.” – Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC ANR Cooperative Extension entomology specialist.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center opens its doors to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 27 for free tours of the 330-acre facility. The center is at 9240 S. Riverbend Ave., Parlier.
At the facility, which is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, scientists conduct research on a diversity of Central San Joaquin Valley crops, including grapes, stone fruit, almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, kiwi fruit, blueberries, alfalfa and more recently sorghum. Twenty Ph.D.-level scientists are based at the center to study pest control, new crop varieties, plant disease control and irrigation strategies.
Trams will run throughout the day on 30-minute guided tours that highlight research in permanent and row crops. The research includes plant pathology, integrated pest management, winegrape rootstocks, fresh fig varieties and handling, carbon sequestration, nematology, medical entomology, orchard strategies, organic alfalfa strategies, dried on the vine strategies, wine varieties.
This year, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center participated in both the Kings County Farm Day and the Fresno County Farm and Nutrition Day. KARE's mini workshop discusses what it takes to be a healthy plant and what it takes to be a healthy person. The students plant leaf lettuce to take home so that it can grow and they can eat it. The Kings County event attracted over 2700 students and the Fresno County event attracted over 3500 students. Left over lettuce transplants were used by different FFA programs. These events were made possible by generous donations from Greenheart Farms, The Plant People, and Valley Soil & Forest Products. Our ability to deliver these workshops are in great part due to the wonderful volunteers who come and work hard at the events. Fresno's lettuce planting was featured on the KMPH Channel 26 Great Day morning show. We also thank the respective fair staff and Farm Bureau staff.
In their capacity as California Agriculture Systems Innovation members, Jeff Mitchell, Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist at the UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center and in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis specializing in vegetable cropping systems, irrigation management, soil quality, organic soil amendments, extension models, and postharvest physiology and innovative conservation agriculture farmer John Diener of Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, CA were part of a panel organized by the Berkeley Food Institute that discussed "farming practices to reduce risks tied to drought." Read more.
See the video of the panel discussion.
This year, Kearney had the pleasure of watching four great horned owls mature. We considered this to be a nice addition to the Kearney family. Themis Michailides indicated that owls in ancient Greece represented the bird of wisdom! In fact, when he attended high school in Greece, it was mandatory that all the students wear a hat with an owl-embroidered on the front of the hat.
Kearney staff noticed that a great horned owl was nesting in one of the trees in our north gravel parking lot. When the tree did not have very many leaves, the female parent remained vigilant in the nest with the nestlings. After the young owls became fledglings, the female parent would fly to a nearby tree to watch them. At first, we thought that there were two fledglings, and in the end, we discovered that there were four. All of them became branchers, moving out to the branches at about 6 weeks old. They started to fly about a week later and survived to be independent. Luckily, when one branchling fell out of the nest on a Friday, Gwen Conville, Tayoko Handa and Matthew Fidelibus came by to look at the owls before going home. They captured the fallen young owl and took it to a Critter Creek animal rescue volunteer, who indicated that the bird would probably be flying in a week. The three juveniles that did not fall can still be seen in different areas of Kearney. Please enjoy the following pictures that were taken by many different Kearney personnel, including but not limited to Dan Felts, Matthew Fidelibus, Larry Schwankl, and Laura Van der Staay.