- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The UC Mosquito Research Laboratory at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center is the epicenter of California research on the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a tiny, black and white mosquito that can spread the Zika virus.
Aedes aegypti were first identified in California in June 2013, when they were found in the San Joaquin Valley communities of Clovis and Madera. They have now been detected in certain Fresno County neighborhoods, plus the Bay Area, and Southern California, according to the California Department of Public Health.
To date, the Zika virus hasn't been found in the California mosquitoes, however with thousands of Americans traveling to Brazil for the 2016 Olympics, plus travelers regularly visiting other countries with outbreaks of Zika, some could be carriers of the virus when they come home.
Entomologist Anthony Cornel, Ph.D., is working with the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District (CMAD) on research projects aimed at controlling this new mosquito menace. Strategies include: developing effective insecticide treatment strategies, making the female mosquitoes infertile, reducing standing water where mosquitoes breed, and using genetics to understand mosquito population movement. Read more.
- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
Reedley College provides upward bound math and science programs to 405 students from ten high schools ranging from Madera to Dinuba. These programs serve mainly low-income and first generation college bound students with a goal of generating enthusiasm for science and math leading to increased college enrollment. About a quarter of these students attended workshops at Kearney in June and July.
Kris Tollerup, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in the statewide IPM program and at Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center (KARE), almond, pistachio, tree fruit and grapes, taught a workshop on integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and practices. Students went to the fields and performed insect collection sweeps in alfalfa. They used dissecting microscopes to assist with identification of beneficial, neutral, and pest insects. Students learned about IPM strategies as well as how the practices and crops in one grower's field can impact his or her pest pressure as well as the pest pressure in a neighboring grower's crop.
Andreas Westphal, UC Cooperative Extension assistant specialist in the Department of nematology at UC Riverside and KARE, pathogens and nematodes affecting plants, taught the students about nematodes. Students used compound and dissecting microscopes to help identify different nematodes and different stages of nematode development. Samples of plant damage were also available. This workshop included IPM strategies for plant parasitic nematode pest management.
Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at KARE, statewide cropping systems, taught the students about population predictions and the need to find ways to increase food production, increase available quality water, and sustain the environment. Students learned about conservation tillage, soil texture, soil stability, and leadership. They conducted soil texture and soil stability tests. Students discussed how much better the conservation tillage soil's stability and water infiltration was compared to the conventional tillage soil.
Themis Michailides, plant pathologist in the Department of plant pathology at UC Davis and KARE, ecology, epidemiology and control of fungal diseases of fruit and nut crops and vines, postharvest diseases, aflatoxin and mycotoxins of nut crops and figs, taught students about different pathogens, beneficial organisms, and the impact of certain organisms. Students used compound and dissecting microscopes. Larger samples were also available to see the symptoms and visible damage to the host plant. IPM strategies were discussed.
KARE staff provided 3 workshops.
-Students learned about sensory evaluation. Students took turns preparing and delivering samples and being the consumer that determined consumer acceptance. Different strategies to make the data more robust were discussed and demonstrated. Students discussed the results and observed the variation in consumer preferences. They used raw agricultural as well as value added commodities. There was insufficient time for statistical analysis, but the general concepts and impact of statistical analysis were discussed.
-Students discussed different experimental designs and terms. They visited actual research fields and learned how the plots are laid out and how the variables are controlled to help address certain issues and obtain robust data that is useful to stakeholders.
-Students also learned how and why fruit maturity and quality standards were set, as well as methodologies for determining fruit maturity and quality. They performed fruit maturity and quality testing in a laboratory setting and compared their objective and subjective assessments of the fruit. To get the sugar to acid ratio, students conducted titrations and used refractometers. Students used a penetrometer to determine fruit firmness. Some of the students toured other labs in the facility and learned about pathology efficacy trials and altered atmosphere strategies.
- Author: Khaled M Bali
Khaled Bali, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in irrigation water management is now at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Bali has been with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources since 1992 and served in different capacities as UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Imperial County, irrigation and water management (1992-2016), UCCE county director in Imperial County (2009-2016) and two years as interim director of the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville (2012-2013 and 2014-2015). He received his doctoral degree in soil physics from UC Davis (1992), master's degree in irrigation and drainage from UC Davis (1987), and bachelor's degree in soils and irrigation from the University of Jordan (1984). He is responsible for designing, implementing, and conducting educational and applied research programs in irrigation, drainage, water management, water quality, soil salinity, waste management, reuse of wastewater for irrigation and nonpoint source pollution control practices. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jordan (2006-07) and conducted research on reuse of wastewater for irrigation and constructed wetlands to treat wastewater.
- Author: Alireza Pourreza
Alireza (Ali) Pourreza is a new UC Cooperative Extension assistant advisor at UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, agricultural engineering. His research and extension area includes spray technology, precision agriculture, automation and robotic control, sensor design, geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, computer vision, spectroscopy, machine learning, and big data. He completed his graduate studies at the University of Florida and obtained his Ph.D. degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering under the advisement of Wonsuk “Daniel” Lee, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida. Pourreza also received an interdisciplinary certificate in GIS and Remote Sensing. Ali holds a master's degree in Mechanics of Agricultural Machinery and a bachelor's degree in Farm Machinery Engineering.
Pourreza's doctoral dissertation was focused on interdisciplinary research in citrus diseases detection using computer vision, and machine learning. He developed two real-time, vision-based sensors for citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) disease detection for laboratory and field experiments. He also developed an autonomous field inspector robot and a vision-based sensor for on-site diagnosis of citrus diseases.
- Author: Roberta Barton
Third grade teachers from around California toured UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) Center July 21 during a week of Next Generation Science Standards training in nearby Reedley sponsored by the K-12 Academy and WestEd.
Led by Chuck Boldwyn, KARE superintendent of agriculture, tour stops highlighted the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) weather station, sorghum deficit irrigation trials, and how a soil weighing lysimeter measures tree and vine crops water use.
Boldwyn encouraged teachers to subscribe to California Agriculture journal. Readers in the United States can subscribe for free. Published by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), the quarterly peer-reviewed journal reports on research, reviews and news of California's agricultural, natural and human resources. Content can be easily understood by non-specialist readers. International subscription rates are $24 a year, or $20 a year for two years or more.
Khaled Bali, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in statewide irrigation water management at KARE, explained at the weather station how the data is used for irrigation management decisions. CIMIS was developed in 1982 by the California Department of Water Resources and UC Davis. One of the first CIMIS weather stations to be put into use is still located at the UC ANR West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points.
At a stop in a peach orchard, teachers were surprised to learn of the large weighing lysimeter just below their feet. Basically, a lysimeter is a large "flower pot" measuring 6.5 feet wide by 13 feet long by 6.5 feet deep that rests on a sensitive balance-beam weighing scale in an underground chamber. Why would you want to measure soil weight? Short-term soil weight loss is almost entirely due to water evaporation through leaves or from the soil surface. When a specific threshold is exceeded, the crop is automatically irrigated. The orchard lysimeter has also been used to study the effects of water stress on tree water use. Two lysimeters were constructed at KARE in 1986. The second lysimeter is located in a vineyard.
Comments from teachers recognized the value of the agricultural science research underway at KARE.
"I was not aware of all the research that is going on in ag."
"A great tour. I hope the Reedley teachers take advantage of having the Kearney Center so close to them."
"It was amazing to see the concepts we have been learning put to work."