Sonoma County Bounty - Farm Business Incubator
University of California
Sonoma County Bounty - Farm Business Incubator


UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Position Announcement Placer-Nevada-Sutter-Yuba

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is seeking a Cooperative Extension Advisor who will serve UCCE Placer-Nevada and Sutter-Yuba Counties with headquarters in Auburn, CA. Please help spread the word about this position that will focus on integrating livestock, natural resources, food systems and economics.

A minimum of a master's degree is required, though other advanced degrees are encouraged, in disciplines such as animal science, rangeland management or other closely related fields. Incumbent is required to become a Certified Rangeland Manager within five years of date of hire; see

Excellent written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills are required. The ability to build partnerships and to work with multidisciplinary teams to address production and environmental challenges is required. Experience in applied research and extension is preferred.

SUBMIT BY date for full consideration is Monday February 27, 2017. It is position #AP16-20.

See the web link for access to the full position announcement and required academic application form.

Questions about this recruitment may be directed to Karen Ellsworth: Phone: 530 750-1284;


Posted on Friday, February 10, 2017 at 2:51 PM

North American Meat Insitiute Releases MyMeatUp App for IPhones and Androids

The following came from the NAMI Lean Trimmings newsletter.


Meat Institute to Launch MyMeatUp App Tuesday.  The Meat Institute will nationally launch its new MyMeatUp app on Tuesday morning with a broad release to mainstream media outlets as well as college publications.  The release is part of a larger marketing strategy for the app over the next several months.  MyMeatUp is the first-of-its-kind mobile app aimed at helping consumers become more confident when buying meat and poultry.  The free app is the only available app with a full guide to beef, pork, lamb and veal retail meat cuts, and draws on content from, a popular resource that was launched in 2016. 


Meat Institute staff and members have assisted in giving the app a solid rating prior to release. MyMeatUp currently has 29 five-star reviews in the Apple app store, which should help its searchability.  Members who have not downloaded the app are strongly encouraged to do so and provide positive reviews.  To download the iPhone version, click here.  The Android version is available here.

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2017 at 2:21 PM
Tags: Android (1), App (1), Beef (12), IPhone (1), Lamb (3), Meat (3), Meat Buying (1), Pork (1)

Ag labor management seminars offer keys to success in times of labor uncertainty

UC Cooperative Extension will hold workshops in Temecula Feb. 1 and 2 to help California agricultural employers facing many challenges including labor shortages, wage & hour laws, joint liability, worker safety, workers comp insurance, and immigration issues and policies.

“Agricultural employers and managers are better prepared to face uncertainty in labor markets with up-to-date information and strategies for dealing with people management, and legal and regulatory issues,” said Ramiro Lobo, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in San Diego County and workshop organizer. Additional program partners are the California Farm Labor Contractor Association, Zenith Insurance Company and Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards.

The workshops will be at Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards, 35960 Rancho California Rd., in Temecula. “Challenges and Strategies in Agricultural Labor Management” runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 1. The program includes various legal and industry experts presenting on a range of labor management issues including updates on labor laws, basic strategies for legal and effective hiring and orientation, overview of H2A Visa programs, and effective management of worker injuries. The event ends with wine tasting hosted by Wilson Creek.

“Management and Supervision of Personnel for Agricultural Operations,” will be offered in Spanish on Feb. 2. The program, intended for agricultural employers/managers and first-line supervisors, provides information on effective supervision and management in times of labor shortage, updates on labor laws and regulations, positive and clear communications, and preventing sexual harassment and bullying.

“Properly managing personnel is critical because of the scarcity of labor,” Lobo said. “We will provide strategies to retain employees by making the workplace more attractive.”

Advance registration is available with a credit card at Registration for the Feb. 1 workshop is $80 per person before Jan. 20, and $100 after or at the door, if space allows. Registration for the Feb. 2 workshop is $60 per person before Jan. 20, and $80 after or at the door, if space allows. A registration discount is available for participants to attend both events. For both events, registration is $120 before Jan. 20, and $140 after or at the door, if space allows.

For more information visit the event website.

Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 12:05 PM
Tags: Farm labor (1), San Diego (2), UCCE (2)

Strawberry and vegetable crops extension program and its impact in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties

Extension education plays a major role in agricultural development.  Timely and efficient dissemination of information on new technologies, crop production or pest management practices, and emerging or potential problems helps growers to reduce their production costs and improve yields.  A variety of communication tools and techniques are necessary to effectively carry out the mission of extension education.  As communication is a major part of extension education, the kind of communication tools used will determine the success of the program.  Modern communication tools such as emails, webinars, electronic journals, social media, web portals, videos, and smartphone applications add value to traditional outreach methods such as field visits, phone calls, extension meetings, and field days.  While the number of subscribers, views to online articles, or attendees at meetings indicates the effectiveness of the extension program, periodic surveys are very important to measure the impact.

Here is an overview of my extension program and some of the methods used to reach out to my clientele groups since I joined UC Cooperative Extension in January, 2009.

Field visits or individual consultations: They provide an opportunity to understand individual needs and provide specific solutions.  More than 6,300 people have been served through personal visits or communication related to various crop production and crop protection.

Field days and extension meetings: My annual extension events provide an excellent opportunity to bring together local communities where new information is exchanged and collaborations are developed.  I have reached out to more than 5,800 people through various extension events organized by myself, my colleagues, or industry partners.  Presentations and handouts from my meetings can be accessed online.

Trade journals and web portals: Several print magazines and web portals such as American Vegetable Grower, American Fruit Grower, CAPCA Adviser, Growing Produce, Vegetables West, and Western Farm Press are excellent resources to disseminate information to thousands of readers.  I regularly contribute article to these sources.

Newsletters: Sending out periodical information through newsletters keeps the clients informed about new developments.  Central Coast Agriculture Highlights is a quarterly newsletter that I sent out to about 500 subscribers.  After finding out that other online articles are more effective in timely dissemination of information, I focused more on those options.  However, I continue to contribute articles to county newsletters.

Electronic journals: I started the electronic journal Strawberries and Vegetables six years ago (15 December, 2010), to alert growers about an issue that some of the strawberry growers were experiencing.  Most of these articles are reviewed by peers and their periodic publication allowed immediate availability of information to people within the region as well as those outside California or United States.  I started another electronic journal Pest News in January, 2011, to provide information about pests, diseases, and other issues not related to strawberries and vegetables.

Out of the 80 articles in Strawberries and Vegetables, I authored or co-authored 74.  These articles have a total of 173,120 direct views between 15 December, 2010 and 2016.  While my 74 articles had 168,469 views, the remaining six had 4,651.  On an average, each of my articles was read more than 2,200 times.

Readership of Strawberries and Vegetables eJournal related to specific crops or general issues from 15 December 2010-2016.  Numbers on the bars are the number of articles.

Number of articles (on bars) on different topics and their readership from 15 December, 201-2016 (above).  Top five articles with the highest number of views (below).

The average views for articles on strawberry or vegetable issues was about the same, but when the views or the readership of individual articles was considered, spider mite management in strawberries was the most popular topic followed by information on the invasive Bagrada bug.

In Pest News the 16 articles I authored or co-authored were viewed 52,743 times since 2 February, 2011 while the 15 article authored by others were viewed 15, 264 times.  Articles about the spotted lanternfly the weeping fig thrips, both invasive species, had the highest views.

Top five popular articles in Pest News eJournal.

Other extension publications: The illustrated strawberry production manual published in collaboration with Cachuma Resource Conservation District in both English and Spanish is available for free download.  This publication complements contributions made to pest management guidelines or manuals published by UCANR.

Smartphone application:  Apps have become very popular because of the convenience and a variety of features or services they offer.  I conceived the idea of developing IPMinfo app three years ago to provide information about pests and diseases and had an Android version developed first for initial testing.  An iOS version was first released in May, 2015 and with some improvements, the Android version was released in September, 2016.  IPMinfo currently has information about strawberry pests and diseases, but additional crops will be added.  With a few hundred downloads and very positive feedback from several users, IPMinfo, the first such app from University of California is an efficient extension tool using modern technology.

IPMinfo can be downloaded through Apple App Store and Google Play Store for free.

Twitter:Tweets are a great way to announce publications, extension events, or important issues in 140 characters or less.   I started @calstrawberries and @calveggies accounts in January, 2010, which now have 210, and 149 followers, respectively.  In addition to the followers, tweets from these accounts reach out to hundreds of other Twitter users.

Stay tuned to the updates by following @calstrawberries and @calveggies.

Facebook: Not having the character limit as in Twitter, Facebook allows us to post pictures and large text to engage clients in conversation about research and extension activities.  I created the @strawberriesvegetables page in June, 2012 and it reaches out to those who are not connected through other tools.

Like the @strawberriesvegetables Facebook page and stay connected.

YouTube videos: A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth much more.  Short videos are very valuable in providing information or training on a variety of issues.  I first posted a YouTube video on the biology, damage, and control of the Bagrada bug on 1 August, 2013 in response to numerous queries about this invasive pest.  On 23 September, 2013, I posted my second video on virus decline (Pallidosis-related decline) of strawberry.  Both videos helped in providing a good overview of important issues at that time.  Additional videos are also available on my YouTube channel.

Informative short videos on pest and disease issues can be found on my YouTube channel.

While there are several communication tools for extending information, it is important to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each and use them as appropriate for the program and the specific clientele groups.

Needs assessment and impact measurement: Assessing the needs of the clients helps build a research and extension program that addresses existing and emerging issues.  Conducting surveys immediately and a few months after the extension events helps understand their usefulness and impact in improving clients' knowledge, change behavior, or improving their agricultural practices.  Surveys conducted after my extension events have been receiving positive feedback.  For example, a recent survey showed that the information I provided through my research and extension program during last year positively impacted farming on more than 137,000 acres and improved savings or returns that amounted to $1.28 million.

Feedback received from more than 300 people since 1 September, 2015 indicated that 99.4% found the articles in my electronic journals useful and 93.4% would use that information in their farming operations.

 Highly positive feedback indicates the usefulness of the information provided through the two eJournals.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to all the growers, PCAs, industry partners, and other clients who support my research and extension program and continue to provide feedback enabling me to improve and serve better. 

Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 1:41 PM

Improving strawberry yield with a recycled food waste-based liquid compost

Synthetic or chemical or inorganic fertilizers are commonly used in many conventional crop production systems providing essential nutrients necessary for optimal plant growth and yields.  While these fertilizers provide plants with readily available nutrients, excessive application could lead to leaching into the ground water or increase the attractiveness of plants to pests and diseases.  Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, are generally made from plant or animal sources.  Compared to synthetic fertilizers where nutrients are readily available, nutrients are slowly released from organic fertilizers and thus have a lower risk of nutrient leaching.  Organic fertilizers add organic matter to the soil, which improves soil structure, water holding capacity, and root growth.  Organic matter also supports beneficial microbial communities in the soil that improve nutrient availability to the plant and protect plants from plant pathogens and other stress factors.

Organic fertilizers, especially those made from food waste, have a significant environmental benefit by recycling valuable nutrient and energy resources that would have, otherwise, been wasted (Senesi, 1989).  Several studies emphasized the importance of soil organic matter and its positive impact on soil fertility, crop productivity, and environmental sustainability (Tisdall and Oades, 1982; Baldock and Nelson, 2000; Johnston et al., 2009).  However, a balanced used of both synthetic and organic fertilizers is a good strategy both to meet plant needs and environmental sustainability (Chen, 2006).

In the United States, food waste at consumer and retail levels was estimated to be about 30% of the food supply, which is equal to 133 billion pounds valued at $161 billion (USDA-ERS, 2016).  Food waste is the largest part what goes into landfills and is the third largest source of methane in the United States.  Converting food waste into a fertilizer will have a major impact on agriculture and environment. 

To evaluate the efficacy of a recycled food waste-based liquid compost on strawberry yield, a study was conducted during the spring of 2013 on a conventional strawberry field at DB Specialty Farms, Santa Maria.

Materials and Methods

Harvest-to-Harvest (H2H), made by hydrolysis of freshly expired produce, meat, and other food items collected from grocery stores, was evaluated alone and in combination with the grower standard.  The formulation of H2H used in the study had NPK at 1-1-0, 5-7% of amino acids, 6-8% of lipids, 8-10% carbohydrates, and 20-25% organic matter according to the label.  Treatments included i) Grower standard or GS (proprietary fertilizer regimen), ii) H2H at 73 gallons/acre, and iii) H2H:GS at 50:50.  H2H was administered through the drip irrigation system 28 March, 9 and 18 April.  Each treatment had a block of about 1.6 acre that were adjacent to each other.  On six randomly selected beds within each block, a 40-plant section was marked as a sampling plot.  Yield data were collected from these plots from 4 April to 20 May on 10 sampling dates following grower's harvest schedule. 

Data were analyzed using analysis of variance and significant means were separated using Tukey's HSD test.

 Andres Tapia administering treatments through a special pump built by Joe Coelho (above) and observation plots (below).

Results and Discussion

Compared to the yield in GS plots, marketable strawberry yield was significantly higher (P < 0.05) for H2H treatment on four of the harvest dates and for GS:H2H combination on two of the harvest dates (Table 1).  The average marketable berry yield was significantly higher (P = 0.0003) in both H2H and GS:H2H treatments compared to the GS treatment (Fig. 1).  There was no difference (P = 0.283) in the weight of unmarketable berries and their proportion of the total yield was 18.7, 15.5, and 16.2 for GS, H2H, and GS:H2H, respectively.

Table 1. Marketable berry yield on different harvest dates.  Means followed by the same letter within the same column are not statistically different based on Tukey's HSD test.
Fig. 1.  Average marketable and unmarketable yield during the observation period.

This first commercial field study using H2H shows promising results in improving strawberry yield with recycled food waste.  Manufacturer made changes to the H2H formulation and recommendation rates after the study was conducted.  Additional studies in different fields with different application rates from the beginning of the production season are essential to make valid conclusions.  Soil conditions and nutrient management practices vary among various fields and additional studies will add value to the results obtained in this preliminary study. 

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Daren Gee for the collaboration, California Safe Soils for financial support, and Joe Coelho and Andres Tapia for their technical assistance. 

Baldock, J. A. and P. N. Nelson.  2000.  Soil organic matter.  In: Sumner, M. E. (Ed.) Handbook of Soil Science. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp. B25-B84.

Chen, J.-H.  2006.  The combined use of chemical and organic fertilizers and/or biofertilizer for crop growth and soil fertility.  International workshop on sustained management of the soil-rhizosphere system for efficient crop production and fertilizer use.  Vol. 16.  p. 20.  Land Development Department Bangkok, Thailand.

Johnston, A. E., P. R. Poulton, and K. Coleman.  2009.  Soil organic matter: its importance in agriculture and carbon dioxide fluxes.  Adv. Agronomy 101: 1-57.

Senesi, N. 1989.  Composted materials as organic fertilizers.  Science of the Total Environment 81: 521-542.

Tisdall, J. M. and J. M. Oades.  1982.  Organic matter and water-stable aggregates in soils.  European J. Soil Sci. 33: 141-163.

United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS).  2016.  US Food Waste Challenge FAQ's.  Accessed on 9 December, 2016 from


Posted on Friday, December 9, 2016 at 12:52 PM

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