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

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Two UC graduate students chosen to assist UC ANR Global Food Initiative efforts

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Melanie Colvin
Two University of California graduate students have been selected by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources as UC Global Food Initiative (GFI) fellows for 2018-19. Graduate students Melanie Colvin at UC Berkeley and Maci Mueller at UC Davis will work with ANR academics and staff to conduct and communicate about UC research for improved food security and agricultural sustainability.

Melanie Colvin, a graduate student at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, focuses on addressing nutrition-related diseases through preventative measures. As a GFI fellow, Colvin will work with Nutrition Policy Institute researchers to conduct a secondary analysis of the Healthy Communities Study, a six-year observational study that included more than 5,000 children and their families from 130 communities in the United States. The native of Chapel Hill, NC, will analyze the relationship between household food insecurity and physical activity. Colvin plans to pursue a Ph.D. with a goal of a career in public health research.

"The GFI fellowship allows me to experience many facets of developing meaningful research questions that I will address on my own one day as a principal investigator," Colvin said.

Maci Mueller
Maci Mueller, a doctoral student in animal biology at UC Davis, is interested in a career at the interface of agricultural science and policy, particularly related to the problems that might be solved using innovative breeding tools, such as gene editing. Using a variety of communication tools, the Princeton, Neb., native will work with UC ANR's Strategic Communications team to inform the public about UC ANR's contributions to agricultural, food and nutrition research and related policies.

“I am excited to learn from the UC ANR's Strategic Communications team and for the opportunity as a GFI fellow to gain hands-on agricultural research communication experience,” Mueller said.

In addition to their individual projects, the 2018-19 GFI fellows are invited to participate in systemwide activities designed to enhance their leadership skills and enrich their understanding of the food system in California.

The UC Global Food Initiative was launched by UC President Janet Napolitano in 2014 with the aim of putting UC, California and the world on a pathway to sustainability. The GFI fellows are part of a group of approximately 50 UC graduate and undergraduate students working on food-related projects at all 10 UC campuses, UC Office of the President, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC ANR. Each participant receives a $4,000 award to help fund student-generated research, projects or internships that support the initiative's efforts to address the issue of how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion by 2025.

 

 

Melanie Colvin, left, and Maci Mueller.
Melanie Colvin, left, and Maci Mueller.

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 3:43 PM

Dry conditions keep sudden oak death in check, yet significant outbreaks continue

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Google map shows results of the SOD blitzes available online at sodblitz.organd SODMAP.org. Green icons identify trees sampled that tested negative for SOD. Red icons were SOD-infected trees.
Sudden oak death, which has killed millions of trees in California over the past 20 years, is spreading more slowly, according to California's most recent citizen-science sudden oak death survey. The 2018 SOD Blitz results indicate Phytophthora ramorum (the pathogen known to cause SOD) infection is currently less prevalent in many wildland urban interface areas, though significant outbreaks are still occurring in some locations.

Overall, 3.5 percent of the trees (based on those areas sampled during the blitzes) were found to be P. ramorum positive, a threefold drop from 2017. Yet, in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, infection levels were estimated to be as high as 19 percent, followed by 12.7 percent in the East Bay.

"SOD blitzes detected the highest levels of foliar infections by SOD in 2017,” said SOD Blitz founder Matteo Garbelotto, UC Berkeley forest pathology and mycology Cooperative Extension specialist and adjunct professor. “As predicted, those high levels of foliar infections were responsible for a high increase of infection of oaks and tanoaks by SOD.

"Oaks and tanoaks were infected last year and will be showing symptoms such as bleeding in the stem and canopy drying this year and in the next two years to follow. Hence, despite a reduction of SOD infection on leaves of California bay laurels and leaves of tanoaks in 2018, we can expect a sharp increase in oak and tanoak mortality in 2018, 2019 and 2020."

Notable outbreaks were detected in Alameda (El Cerrito and Oakland urban parks, San Leandro, Orinda, Moraga), Marin (Novato, Day Island, Woodacre, Sleepy Hollow, McNears Beach, China Camp State Park, north San Rafael, Tiburon Peninsula, east and west peak of Mt. Tamalpais, Marin City), Mendocino (south of Yorkville), Monterey (Carmel Valley Village, Salmon Creek Trail in southern Big Sur), Napa (east Napa city), San Mateo (Burlingame Hills, west of Emerald Hills and south of Edgewood Rd, Woodside ), Santa Clara (Los Altos Hills, Saratoga, Los Gatos, along Santa Cruz Co border), Santa Cruz (along the Santa Clara Co border, Boulder Creek), and Sonoma (near Cloverdale, east and west of Healdsburg, west of Windsor, east of Santa Rosa, west of Petaluma) counties.

Several popular destinations where P. ramorum was found positive during the 2017 Blitz were negative for the pathogen in 2018, including Golden Gate Park and the Presidio of San Francisco, the UC Berkeley campus, and Mount Diablo State Park. Samples from San Luis Obispo and Siskiyou counties were also pathogen-free as were those from the southern portion of Alameda County.

"We encourage everyone in affected counties to look at the Blitz results online and to attend one of the fall workshops to learn how to protect their oaks from SOD,” Matteo Garbelotto.

“It is encouraging that SOD has yet to be found in the forests of California's northern-most counties, San Luis Obispo County and southern Alameda County,” said Garbelotto.

“It is also encouraging to see that despite its continued presence in the state for more than 20 years, SOD infection rates drop during drier years,” he said. “However, in 2018, we identified a number of communities across several counties where significant outbreaks were detected for the first time, and the Salmon Creek find in Monterey County is the southernmost positive WUI (wildland-urban interface) tree detection ever. Until the 2018 Blitz, only stream water had been found positive in the Salmon Creek area. We encourage everyone in affected counties to look at the Blitz results online and to attend one of the fall workshops to learn how to protect their oaks from SOD.”

Citizen-science SOD Blitz workshops

SOD Blitz Workshops are being held this fall in Santa Rosa (Oct. 10), Portola Valley (Oct. 16) and Berkeley (Oct. 17). The trainings will discuss Blitz results and recommendations for protecting oaks in the WUI. Workshops are intended for the general public, tree care professionals and land managers (see www.sodblitz.org for details). Two International Society of Arboriculture continuing education units will be offered at each training. Data collected from the Blitz (both positive and negative samples) have been uploaded to the SOD Blitz map (www.sodblitz.org ) as well as to SODmap (www.SODmap.org) and to the free SODmap mobile app, which can serve as an informative management tool for people in impacted communities.

SOD Blitz volunteers collect leaf samples and record the location using the SODmap mobile app.

Twenty-five SOD Blitz surveys were held in 2018 in the WUI of 14 coastal California counties from the Oregon border to San Luis Obispo County and included three tribal land surveys. The 304 volunteers surveyed approximately 13,500 trees and submitted leaf samples from over 2,000 symptomatic trees to the Garbelotto lab for pathogen testing.

SOD Blitzes are a citizen science program, which train participants each spring to identify symptomatic tanoak and California bay laurel trees in the WUI and to properly collect samples in the interest of generating an informative map of P. ramorum disease symptoms over time. Samples are tested for the presence of the pathogen at UC Berkeley and results are posted electronically each fall. Now in its eleventh year, the SOD Blitz program is one of the first in the world to join researchers and volunteers in a survey for a tree disease.

SOD Blitz surveys were made possible thanks to funding from the US Forest Service State and Private Forestry, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, and the PG&E Foundation. The Blitzes were organized by the UC Berkeley Garbelotto lab in collaboration with the National Park Service, Presidio Trust, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Save Mount Diablo, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, East Bay Regional Park District, Santa Lucia Conservancy, Sonoma State University, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, Los Padres National Forest, City and County of San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, and California Native Plant Society.

For information on the status of P. ramorum/SOD tree mortality in California wildlands, see the US Forest Service 2018 Aerial Detection Survey results at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/forest-grasslandhealth/?cid=fseprd592767.

For more information on the SOD Blitzes, visit www.sodblitz.org or contact Katie Harrell at (510) 847-5482 or kmharrell@ucdavis.edu. For more information on Sudden Oak Death and P. ramorum, visit the California Oak Mortality Task Force website at www.suddenoakdeath.org or contact Harrell.

Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at 12:27 PM
  • Author: Katie Harrell

Open Farm 2018 and UC ANR promote ag technology

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A torrent of technology is flowing into the agricultural sector. To make sense of it, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Fresno State and West Hills Community College came together with technology vendors and growers at Open Farm 2018, held in October at UC ANR's Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

“A lot of technology is coming out,” said Kearney director and UC Cooperative Extension agronomy specialist Jeff Dahlberg. “I need to caution you, it's not all is based on science. We are helping with testing.”

Kearney REC director Jeff Dahlberg speaks to participants at Open Farm.

Dalhberg has been working with Blue River Technologies to monitor the growth of dozens of sorghum cultivars. Throughout the growing season, Blue River flew drones over the sorghum nursery with cameras to capture their growth and development.

“We have a huge phenotypic dataset,” Dalhberg said. “It will be compared at the genetic level with plant samples and help us identify genes associated with drought tolerance.”

At Open Farm, Dahlberg's field presentation was paired with Smartfield, a company that uses fixed cameras and field sensors to gather information for “big data crunching.”

PowWow Energy, based in San Francisco with a field office at the Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center at Fresno State, met near a well at Kearney to explain how the company can help growers with decision support tools. The company believes their technology will be useful for farmers tracking groundwater usage, data that will be key to complying with new rules associated with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA, signed by Gov. Brown in 2014, gives local agencies the authority to manage groundwater in a way that achieves sustainability by 2042.

Representatives of PowWow Energy meet with Open Farm participants near a well at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

UCCE agriculture mechanization specialist Ali Pourezza introduced a prototype he developed with junior specialist German Zuniga-Ramirez that he believes will make early detection of the devastating citrus disease huanglongbing as easy as taking a photo with a smartphone camera.

The idea is based on the optical characteristics of the disease in leaves. By using a polarizing light, leaves on diseased trees are immediately identified. Infected trees can then be torn out before insects have the chance to spread the disease to other trees.

Pourezza and Zuniga-Ramirez are seeking funding to take the prototype to the next level, and eventually commercialize the product.

UCCE specialist Ali Pourreza compares a citrus leaf infected with HLB with one that is not infected.

This sampling of innovations being showcased at Kearney is part of a continuing effort by UC to connect the ag community with technology developers and resources that is shepherded by a new UC ANR program called The VINE, Verde Innovation Network For Entrepreneurship. The VINE was created by UC ANR in 2017 to link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions and education.

At Open Farm 2018, UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston was the keynote speaker. She outlined three areas where farmers, the technology sector and academia can work together to accelerate technology application in rural parts of California: improve broadband access, identify high-value uses for biomass and establish water infrastructure in rural communities.

To address the broadband issue, Humiston is leading an initiative to document mobile internet speed across California – including rural areas. In April 2019, Humiston plans to enlist 4-H members across the state to test internet speed using the free smartphone app CalSpeed several times over a period of a week.

“This will give us a snapshot of mobile broadband service availability,” Humiston said.

The crisis in the Sierra Nevada – where millions of trees died from the drought of 2010-16 – could prompt the development of high-value uses of biomass and establish a market for biomass derived in the agricultural sector, she said.

Humiston also took the opportunity to ask participants to help make sure the critical services UC ANR provides – including county-based UC Cooperative Extension, nine research and extension centers, the UC integrated pest management program, 4-H youth development, UC Master Gardeners and others – continue to fuel the California economy. Diminished funding from the State of California is taking a toll on the UC ANR budget.

“We need people like you to work with the VINE to set up improved support,” Humiston said.

Posted on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 2:59 PM

Children and families find a spark with hands-on fun

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Hands-on crafts, farm animals and fresh organic produce brought the Santa Clara County community to the Martial Cottle Park Harvest Festival in San Jose Oct. 6. UC Cooperative Extension in Santa Clara County participated to share gardening information, composting basics and the fun of 4-H with children and families.

The UCCE 4-H program brought virtual reality goggles that allowed children to look in any direction for a view under the sea, complete with coral, fish and a sea turtle. Santa Clara County 4-H ambassador Alexa Russo used a tablet computer to interact with the children as they looked through the goggles, asking questions to engage them in the experience.

Children peer through VR goggles to see an undersea world, a 4-H activity shared with potential new members at the harvest festival. Behind the table from left are 4-H volunteer Stan Alger, 4-H program representative Sue Weaver, 4-H youth development advisor Fe Moncloa, and 4-H teen ambassador Alexa Russo.

The goggles are just one way 4-H is seeking to light a spark of interest in youth. In clubs throughout the state, 4-H youth are taking part in fun computer science and engineering projects while learning about healthy living, citizenship and leadership.

Booth visitors intrigued by the goggles at the harvest festival were invited to participate in a free event at the Google Mountain View Campus called Code Your World. The activity was developed by 4-H, Google and West Virginia University Extension to teach children about computer science with games and interaction. The Oct. 13 event is being held to to mark 4-H National Youth Science Day

"Code Your World is fun, hands-on and easy, even for people with no computer science experience," said Fe Moncloa, UC Cooperative Extension Youth Development advisor for Santa Clara County. "We opened Code Your World to all our 4-H members, and we're also encouraging kids who aren't members to come." Space is limited and pre-registration is required. To register, go to: http://ucanr.edu/nysdscc

For more information on Code Your World and the Youth Science Day event, see the Santa Clara County 4-H website.

Sunset 4-H member Kate Straub shows off her old English game hen.
 
UCCE certified master composters encourage Santa Clara County residents to turn their green and food waste into a rich garden amendment.
 
UC Master Gardener volunteers answered garden questions in their four-acre demonstration garden.
Master Gardeners offered a learning activity to youth visiting the event.
 
Fall succulent sales raised funds to support the Master Gardeners' garden.
Coyote Crest 4-H member Wes Hann with his brother's rabbit at the harvest festival.
 
Posted on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 9:45 AM

Send kids to 4-H camp and leadership events by buying a paper clover

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It's National 4-H Week 2018. California Tractor Supply stores are continuing their long-standing partnership with 4-H to make it possible for more children in their communities to experience 4-H's youth-led, hands-on learning with the 2018 Paper Clover Campaign.

Now through Oct. 14, California Tractor Supply customers can support 4-H by purchasing paper clovers for $1 or more at checkout.

“We are excited to partner with Tractor Supply on this annual fundraising campaign,” Shannon Horrillo, University of California's statewide 4-H Youth Development Program director said. “The funds raised will benefit California 4-H members who wish to attend 4-H camps and leadership conferences across the country.”

“The Fall Paper Clover campaign raises approximately $140,000 annually in support of California 4-H leadership and camp activities,” Horrillo said. “It's a fun way to support our 4-H youth!”

Since it began in 2010, the Fall Paper Clover campaign run by Tractor Supply Company and 4-H has generated more than $11 million in essential funding nationwide.

Find a local store at https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/store-locator.

Show your 4-H spirit by posting selfies wearing a 4-H clover, shirt or green on social media using #InspireKidstoDo or #TrueLeaders, the hashtags for National 4-H Week 2018, and tag @California4H.

About the University of California 4-H Youth Development Program

The University of California 4-H Youth Development Program is open to all youth age 5 through 19 years. More than 109,000 youth and nearly 14,000 adult volunteers participate in 4-H throughout California. The program is delivered through the Cooperative Extension offices of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), a statewide network of the University of California. UC ANR researchers and educators draw on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

Learn more about California 4-H at 4H.ucanr.edu, on Facebook and Twitter.

About 4-H

4-H, the nation's largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident kids who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities right now. In the United States, 4-H programs empower 6 million young people through the 110 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension in more than 3,000 local offices serving every county and parish in the country. Outside the United States, independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower 1 million young people in more than 50 countries. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture  within the United States Department of Agriculture.

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H.

About Tractor Supply

Founded in 1938, Tractor Supply Company is the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States.  As of July 1, 2017, the company operated 1,630 Tractor Supply stores in 49 states and an e-commerce website at www.tractorsupply.com. Tractor Supply stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers and ranchers and others who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses.   

Posted on Monday, October 8, 2018 at 8:03 AM

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