- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
UC ANR scientists get $450,000 to study pesticide alternatives
The root maggot, a pest of cole crops, can wipe out an entire field of broccoli or cauliflower by tunneling through the plants’ roots. With a new $302,542 grant from the Department of Pesticide Regulation, Shimat Joseph, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County, will study ways growers can protect their high-value crops from this persistent pest.
“In the Salinas Valley, cabbage maggot infestation in a field can exceed 90 percent,” said Joseph, who specializes in integrated pest management.
To control the maggots, growers usually apply organophosphate insecticides, such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon, to the soil, but those chemicals don’t kill all of the destructive insects and may contaminate waterways. In hopes of finding more sustainable control methods, Joseph will study preventive tactics including multicropping, planting less-susceptible cultivars, changing cultural practices and using lower-risk pesticides.
Joseph, who specializes in entomology, will evaluate the susceptibility of broccoli when it is planted next to other various crops such as turnip, lettuce, cauliflower or cabbage, to see if the neighboring crop influences the broccoli field’s attractiveness to cabbage maggots. He will also evaluate different broccoli and cauliflower varieties for their resistance or tolerance to the maggots and will look into the role planting date in determining a plant’s susceptibility to the pest.
Lynn Epstein, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, received a $153,289 Department of Pesticide Regulation grant to study alternatives to methyl bromide for strawberry nursery fumigation.
California produces more than a billion strawberry runner plants every year, with a total annual value of approximately $60 million. For the past 50 years, fumigating the soil with methyl bromide before planting has been the most effective way to keep soil-borne pathogens, nematodes and weeds from overwhelming strawberry nursery plants. In recent years, though, methyl bromide has become increasingly restricted, with the intention of eventually phasing it out entirely.
Epstein plans to examine the effectiveness of fumigating soil with Pic-Clor 60 (1,3-dichloropropene/chloropicrin) and two non-chemical control methods: anaerobic soil disinfestation and crop rotation. Rotations between strawberry plantings and wheat and peas with compost have shown promise in suppressing soil pathogens.
Anaerobic soil disinfestation integrates heat from solarization and oxygen deprivation from flooding, according to Epstein.
“We’ll incorporate a relatively inexpensive carbon source into the topsoil, irrigate it to field capacity, and then cover the amended soil with a plastic tarp,” Epstein said. The anaerobic byproducts that build up are toxic to pathogens, but those byproducts will degrade rapidly after the tarp is removed.”
- Author: John Stumbos
The projects address water quality, reproduction, animal welfare, greenhouse gases, weed control, and extending knowledge. The endowment is administered through the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES). Priorities are established by an advisory committee comprised of range cattle industry representatives and UC academics.
“The goal of this program is to promote collaboration and strengthen the continuum between range cattle producers, Cooperative Extension specialists and other research faculty, and county-based Cooperative Extension advisors,” said DeeDee Kitterman, CA&ES executive director of research and outreach. “Ultimately, this helps provide practical answers to critical issues and challenges facing the industry.”
Funding has been made available for this problem-solving research and outreach by endowment earnings from a gift to the university from the estate of Russell Rustici, a Lake County cattle rancher who passed away in 2008.
“Mr. Rustici worked closely with our scientists for many years,” said Neal Van Alfen, CA&ES dean. “His legacy is an enduring commitment to university research that will help us address issues of concern to the California cattle industry for a long time to come.”
This is the first year grant awards are being conferred to UC researchers through an annual competitive process. Grants for this year’s projects totaled more than $339,400. Three of the projects may receive second-year funding totaling nearly $105,000. Projects and lead researchers include:
- Statewide coordination of scientific research information regarding livestock grazing and microbial water quality (Edward R. Atwill, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
- Effects of road transport on physiological stress and pathogen shedding in adult beef cows (Xunde Li, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, UC Davis)
- Development and testing of a recombinant heat shock protein vaccine for epizootic bovine abortion, commonly known as “foothill abortion” (Jeffrey Stott, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
- A new producer-friendly tool to diagnose bovine respiratory disease virus infections (Beate Crossley, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, UC Davis)
- Coordinated electronic extension of research-based information to cattlemen (Glenn Nader, UC Cooperative Extension, Yuba/Sutter/Butte counties)
- Testing of new management tools for controlling medusahead (a rangeland weed) in California (Josh Davy, UC Cooperative Extension, Tehama/Glenn/Colusa counties)
- Evaluation and validation of a PCR assay to detect Tritrichomonas foetus (trichomoniasis pathogen) in modified media (Kristin Clothier, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, UC Davis)
- Beef cattle welfare: assessment of pain relief and healing after hot-iron branding and castration (Cassandra Tucker, UC Davis Department of Animal Science)
For additional information about these research projects, please contact DeeDee Kitterman, (530) 752-9484, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Posted By: Brenda Dawson
- Written by: Pam Kan-Rice, (530) 754-3912, email@example.com and Brenda Dawson, (530) 752-7779, firstname.lastname@example.org
University of California researchers will receive more than $6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which is intended to enhance agricultural markets, address environmental concerns, protect plant health, provide farmers with scientifically tested production techniques and increase food safety.
The USDA awarded $55 million nationwide for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which provides grants to states to enhance the competitiveness of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture identified 72 projects in the state for funding, including 30 projects led by University of California agricultural researchers.
“Funding for specialty crop research is critical to California’s $37.5 billion agricultural industry because many of the crops grown in California are considered specialty crops,” said Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “With these funds, UC scientists will be helping California farmers find new ways to protect their crops from pests and diseases, remain economically viable, and provide healthy food for an increasing number of people.”
- The UC Davis Center for Produce Safety received a combined $1.4 million for food safety projects, many of which will develop strategies to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
- Assessing temperature conditions to determine the potential for using wind machines as an alternative to sprinklers for frost protection in coastal vineyards with the ultimate goal of reduced water use is the goal of a $59,961 project led by UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor Mark Battany in San Luis Obispo County.
- The UC Agricultural Issues Center will be conducting an analysis of the effects of quality control standards and European Union trade policies on the California olive industry, to identify market opportunities as standards and policies change, funded for $135,883.
- The largest single award made to UC in this round was $495,750 to a statewide project that will assess the effects of reduced irrigation on strawberries, blueberries and blackberries -- including berry yield, nutritional content, flavor and consumer preference -- led by researchers with the UC small farm program.
- A project that will train small-scale, Latino, Hmong and Mien growers in Fresno, the Sacramento Valley, the Central Coast and Southern California regions to compete in new markets, led by the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, received $86,851.
- Developing improved integrated pest management strategies that could help ornamental nurseries protect against the light brown apple moth is the goal of a $255,598 project led by Steve Tjosvold, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Santa Cruz County.
“Many of these projects are collaborative efforts between farmers and scientists from UC campuses, UC Cooperative Extension advisors in counties, and other agencies and educational institutions,” Allen-Diaz said. “This array of expertise focused along the spectrum of specialty crops production will help keep California competitive in the global economy.”
For a complete list of California’s Specialty Crop Block Grants projects, please visit http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants.