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

Decreasing forest density will reduce fire risk, build climate resilience

“Actions to arrest the decline in forest health will take place far from urban centers,” said Van Butsic, a coauthor of the report.

California needs to increase the pace and scale of efforts to improve the health of its headwater forests — the source of two-thirds of the state's surface water supply. Management techniques including prescribed fire, managed wildfire and mechanical thinning can help rebuild resilience in these forests and prepare them for a challenging future.

These are among the key findings of a report released today by the PPIC Water Policy Center.

Decades of fire suppression have increased the density of trees and other fuels in headwater forests to uncharacteristically high levels and resulted in massive tree die-offs and large, severe wildfires. Improving forest health will require reducing the density of small trees and fuels on a massive scale.

This will require changes in the regulation, administration, and management of forests. Many of the recommended reforms in forest management can take place at low or no cost. But implementing them will require vision, determined leadership by state and federal officials, and the backing of an informed public.

“Actions to arrest the decline in forest health will take place far from urban centers,” said Van Butsic, a coauthor of the report and a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. “But all Californians will benefit through continued supplies of high-quality water, natural environments, forest products and recreational landscapes.”

Changing the way forestry work is funded — and in some cases securing new funding — will also be needed to help expedite forest improvements. The authors suggest reforms that will enable the private sector and government agencies to use existing tools and funding opportunities more effectively and collaborate more easily on larger-scale management projects. One key recommendation is to find opportunities to combine revenue-generating timber harvesting with other management work to help offset the costs of efforts to improve forest health.

“Making forest health a top land management priority for public and private lands would be a critical first step in reversing the degraded condition of the state's headwater forests,” said report coauthor Henry McCann, a research associate with the PPIC Water Policy Center.

The report, Improving the Health of California's Headwater Forests, was supported with funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to Butsic and McCann, the coauthors are Jeffrey Mount and Brian Gray, both senior fellows at the PPIC Water Policy Center; Jodi Axelson, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley; Yufang Jin, an assistant professor in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis; Scott Stephens, professor of fire science and co-director of the Center for Forestry and Center for Fire Research and Outreach at UC Berkeley; and William Stewart, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist and co-director of the Center for Forestry and Center for Fire Research and Outreach at the UC Berkeley.

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2017 at 9:05 PM

$1.6M from NSF to Study Water, Land Use in Disadvantaged Communities

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.6M to UC Davis to analyze the complex relationships between surface water and groundwater supply, agricultural land use and the economic well-being of rural, disadvantaged communities.

The project is led by principal investigator Helen Dahlke, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. The team will develop models to help guide decision-making regarding water management and land use in the state.

Helen Dahlke in field

Helen Dahlke studies how groundwater is used and replenished in California. (Tiffany Kocis/UC Davis)

While the newly funded project focuses on the Tulare Basin in California's Central Valley, it is expected to provide new insights for other regions of the United States facing similar issues involving economic and water security.

The broader impacts of the project focus on helping local disadvantaged communities participate in the governance of water resources. This includes forming “water schools” and engaging K-12 students from under-represented groups in science and policy issues.

The project will also provide interdisciplinary research education and training for graduate and undergraduate students, who will be involved in all aspects of the research and community engagement activities.

The project is supported by the NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human (CNH) Systems Program. The award is one of nine the program awarded across the nation this week, totaling $13 million.

“These awards demonstrate the importance of understanding the connectedness of nature and society in studying the effects of environmental change and socioeconomic stress,” said CNH program director Liz Blood of NSF.

Co-PIs on the research team include Jon Herman in the UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Anne Visser and Clare Gupta in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology; Rebecca Teasley from the University of Minnesota, Duluth; and Laurel Firestone from the nonprofit Community Water Center.

More information

Flooding Farms in the Rain to Restore Groundwater

Kat Kerlin writes about the environment for UC Davis Strategic Communications. Follow her at @UCDavis_Kerlin.

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 8:27 AM
  • Author: Kat Kerlin
Tags: Clare Gupta (1), Helen Dahlke (3), Kat Kerlin (1), Water (15)

UC ANR, CropMobster partner to share inspiring stories of ag innovation and food system champions

Sacramento high school students from the Edible Sac High school garden program discuss their start-up Sangre del Dragón Hot Sauce company on CropMobster TV.

CropMobster TV's Season 2 takes viewers on a journey throug every county of California, meeting food and ag leaders and seeing how they carve out their livelihoods while feeding their communities.

Most consumers' first encounter with their food is in a grocery store or on a plate served in a restaurant, and they give little thought to how the food got there.

Former Sonoma County farmer Nick Papadopoulos is "Nicky Bobby," host of CropMobster TV.
To learn what goes on before food becomes a meal, CropMobster's Nick “Nicky Bobby” Papadopoulos is meeting with folks around California who are responsible for growing, processing and delivering fruits, nuts, vegetables, meat and other foods. Using a low-tech approach to video with a mobile phone and selfie stick attached to a gutter washer, Nicky Bobby interviews people about their roles in our food system.

As a sponsor of CropMobster TV Season 2, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is pleased to help introduce some of the Californians who toil behind the scenes to provide consumers the delicious and nutritious food we eat.

Nicky Bobby chats with farmers, people at nonprofit organizations that work to reduce food waste and hunger, scientists, land managers who steward our natural resources and business owners.

“Everybody's into food, but all too often people don't make the connection between food and agriculture,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “When you talk about agriculture, people think of two jobs – farmer and farmworker. There are thousands of jobs in the agricultural ecosystem.

“UC ANR is happy to support CropMobster in telling the stories of the men and women who supply us with safe and abundant food, the challenges that they face and the efforts being made to make the food system even better.”

Nicky Bobby, left, stopped in Jackson to talk with Scott Oneto, UC Cooperative Extension director and farm advisor, about farming in the Central Sierra.

CropMobster TV is a nonprofit storytelling and video project by CropMobster in collaboration with Food Tank and many other individual and organizational supporters to highlight the crucial work of everyday heroes working to feed their communities.

 “Sponsorship and support from UC ANR, which does agricultural research and outreach in every California county, is helping us connect with communities throughout the state,” said Papadopoulos, CropMobster CEO. “We are also grateful for Food Tank and so many other individuals and organizations who are pitching in.”

 “This is such a unique, energetic and needed effort to engage our populace on food and agriculture issues,” said Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank president. “We are thrilled to partner with CropMobster and UC ANR and hope to see the CropMobster vision grow and spread!”

CropMobster TV episodes will be published on:

-       CropMobster's Youtube Channel

-       CropMobster's Facebook Page

Episode One: Sangre del Dragón Hot Sauce! (Season 2, Ep 1)

Nicky Bobby attempts to ride Ginger, a horse from Rockney Farms in El Dorado County, then interviews Sacramento high school students at the Alice Waters-inspired Edible Sac High school garden program about their start-up: Sangre del Dragón Hot Sauce company.

To watch and share, https://youtu.be/oyiVQ9AIusM

About CropMobster https://cropmobster.com/

CropMobster partners with bold community leaders to grow high-impact local food networks and community sharing exchanges. The goals are to spark local food economies, engage communities to reduce food waste, support hunger relief and food security efforts and to facilitate sharing of resources.

 

Posted on Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 1:20 AM

Apps for Ag Hackathon winner uses artificial intelligence to diagnose plant problems

Sreejumon Kundilepurayil, left, and Vidya Kannoly and their Dr. Green app took first place in the Apps for Ag hackathon. Dr. Green uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly advise growers how to treat ailing plants.

For 48 hours, innovators and entrepreneurs at the Apps for Ag Hackathon labored over laptops at The Urban Hive in Sacramento before pitching their ideas to judges at the California State Fair. More than 40 people, some from as far as New York and Texas, competed for a $10,000 grand prize and assistance from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to turn their ideas into commercial enterprises.

Ultimately Dr. Green, a mobile app to diagnose plant problems, took the top prize on Sunday (July 30). The second-place Greener app also helps people diagnose and treat plant diseases. Farm Table, an app that promotes agritourism, came in third place. 

One goal of the hackathon was to produce solutions for military veterans who are becoming farmers. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was a major sponsor of the event and leaders from Washington D.C. were on site all weekend participating.

“There was an amazing range of applications this year,” said Gabriel Youtsey, chief innovation officer for University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, which hosted the hackathon.

Twelve teams pitched new ways to apply technology to improve the food system.

“There was an application to take a picture of a plant and it'll identify the plant disease – which can help anyone from backyard gardeners to professional growers – all the way to an application for community-supported fisheries, which helps fishermen better scale their businesses and allows for customers to get the freshest fish,” Youtsey said.

There was an app to match unemployed veterans with farm jobs, an online resource for bees, an app to simplify shipping logistics, an app for detecting mold on produce and many more solutions for food-related problems.

1st Place: Dr. Green

Figuring out why a plant is ailing can be time-consuming for a new farmer or backyard gardener. The plant doctor is always in with Dr. Green. The app created by Sreejumon Kundilepurayil and Vidya Kannoly of Pleasanton will help people identify crop diseases quickly through artificial intelligence and machine learning. The app can incorporate data from sensors monitoring temperature, light and soil moisture to alert growers to problems. Using a smart phone, backyard gardeners and growers can take a photo of plant symptoms and get a diagnosis or use the messaging feature to ask a question about symptoms and receive advice immediately.

Kundilepurayil and Kannoly won $10,000 and tickets to the UC Davis Food and Ag Entrepreneurship Academy, $3,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform credits, plus other resources to help the team start their venture.

From left, Calvin Doval, Scott Kirkland, John Knoll and Shiang-Wan-Chin's Greener app, which diagnoses plant diseases from a photo, took second place.

2nd Place: Greener

Using a smart phone, home gardeners can take a photo of plant symptoms and quickly get a diagnosis and recommended IPM treatment from the Greener app, created by Scott Kirkland, John Knoll and Shiang-Wan Chin of Davis and Calvin Doval of Oakland. They won $5,000 and $1,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform credits and other resources to help start their venture.

From left, Heather Lee, Will Mitchell and Zhenting Zhou finished third with their Farm Table app, which promotes agritourism.

3rd Place: The Farm Table

The Farm Table app aims to make farms more economically sustainable and educate the public about food through agritourism. Heather Lee of San Francisco teamed up with Will Mitchell of Sacramento and Zhenting Zhou of New York City to create the agritourism app.

“We are making agritourism accessible to farmers by building a platform that's connecting visitors with farms,” said Lee. “This is going to help educate our communities on where their food comes from and create an additional revenue source for farmers.”

They won $2,500 and $1,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform credits and other resources to help start their venture.

For 48 hours, hackathon participants worked feverishly on their projects at the Urban Hive in Sacramento.

Growing the pipeline of young innovators

Judges included Joshua Tuscher of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Robert Trice, investor and founder of The Mixing Bowl Hub; Jenna Rodriguez, product manager at Ceres Imaging; Ann Dunkin, chief information officer for the County of Santa Clara; and Jessica Smith, vice president of Strategic Partnerships at AngelHack.

Apps for Ag is a food and agriculture innovation event series hosted by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) and sponsored by IO Labs, The Urban Hive, California Community Colleges and the California State Fair.

“We're growing the pipeline of young innovators, getting entrepreneurs and technologists interested in applying technology to solving problems in the food system,” said Youtsey, who led organization of the hackathon.

“UC ANR is the original innovation engine in food, agriculture and natural resources in California and has been so for over 100 years. This is just taking another spin at tackling innovation in food and agriculture through an innovative competition style format with technology,” he said.

Additional support for the hackathon was provided by Valley Vision, The Mixing Bowl, Farmer Veteran Coalition, AngelHack, Nutiva, Google Cloud Platform, Royse Law Firm, Hot Italian, GTS Kombucha, Startup Sac, AgStart, StartupGrind Sacramento, Future Food, Internet Society San Francisco Bay Chapter, Sacramento Food Co-op, Balsamiq and YouNoodle.

Posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 12:28 PM
Tags: Apps for Ag (3), Gabe Youtsey (5), hackathon (2)

Home gardeners invited to attend UC Master Gardeners Conference Aug. 22-25 

For the first time ever, anyone with an interest in gardening is invited to attend the UC Master Gardener Conference. Participants can learn the latest in home horticulture and share gardening stories with other gardening enthusiasts. The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference will be held Aug. 22-25 at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach.

“Due to our spacious conference location and increased number of sessions, we have the capacity to include more people who want to learn about gardening,” said Missy Gable, director of UC Master Gardener Program.

Participants can choose from 58 sessions to learn a wide variety of subjects such as training fruit trees, pruning grapevines or roses, managing garden pests from aphids to mountain lions, selecting low-water-use plants, diagnosing plant problems and many more.

Adam Schwerner, Disneyland Resort director of horticulture and resort enhancement, and Allan Armitage, University of Georgia professor emeritus will be the keynote speakers.

Four optional tours are available -- the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, Dramatic Gardens from the Desert to the Sea and Los Angeles Farm and Garden History.

Registration is $295 (actual value $466) and closes Aug. 7. To register, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/2017MGConference/Register. Book rooms at the Hyatt Regency by July 31 for the conference rate.

For more information, visit the conference website at http://ucanr.edu/sites/2017MGConference.

Posted on Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 10:24 AM

Next 5 stories | Last story

 
E-mail
 
Webmaster Email: jewarnert@ucanr.edu