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.”
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.
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.
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.
Kearney REC director Jeff Dahlberg speaks to participants at Open Farm.
UCCE specialist Ali Pourreza compares a citrus leaf infected with HLB with one that is not infected.
Representatives of PowWow Energy meet with Open Farm participants near a well at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continuing education credits required by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation will now be available from UC Cooperative Extension by participating in live webinars.
“Everybody is busy,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UCCE citrus entomology specialist. “It's hard for people to get to meetings. Now, they can get some of the hours they need for updating their professional licenses from home or work, or even on their smartphones.”
Live webinars allow experts to talk about timely issues, such as new pest outbreaks, and give participants the option to ask questions via chat and get immediate answers from presenters.
The first webinar is from 3 to 4 p.m. Oct. 17 and will focus on citrus thrips, a perennial pest in citrus production that can vary greatly from year to year. Grafton-Cardwell will discuss biology, biological control, temperature effects, damage, monitoring, chemical control and resistance.
Participants must register in advance on the UC Ag Experts Talk website and connect to the webinar from beginning to end in order to receive continuing education credit. The course will be held on Zoom, communications software that enables video conferencing. Attendees will link into the meeting with audio and video online via computer or smartphone. Details for connecting will be emailed following online registration.
The continuing education sessions will be offered each month by various UC Cooperative Extension experts. On Nov. 14, Ben Faber, UCCE advisor in Ventura County, will discuss avocado diseases. Future class dates and topics will be posted on the UC Ag Experts Talk website.
Professional pest control advisers must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years; qualified applicator certification and qualified applicators license renewal requires 20 hours every two years, according to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
All the webinars will be recorded and the sessions posted on the web, however, watching the recording will be for informational purposes only and not eligible for continuing education credit.
A new study on the costs and returns of producing hybrid sunflower seed in the Sacramento Valley has been released by the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center for farmers who are considering growing hybrid sunflower seeds.
“Although the acreage is relatively small – about 50,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley – hybrid sunflower seed is an important crop because California growers produce the seed for planting stock, destined to be planted in many areas around the world for oilseed and confectionary snack food markets,” said Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor and co-author of the cost study.
Authors Rachael Long, Mariano Galla and Light received input and reviews from fellow UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and agricultural industry cooperators for the study, which is based on a typical farm in the Sacramento Valley producing field and orchard crops.
“One thing new in our cost study is that it's based on a crop that is irrigated with subsurface drip as opposed to flood,” Long said.
The study estimates the cost of hybrid sunflower seed production on 200 acres as part of a row crop rotation, using subsurface drip irrigation. The subsurface drip irrigation tape is replaced every seven years. Annually, 15 percent, or 30 acres, of the subsurface drip tape is replaced.
To avoid cross-pollination with other sunflower varieties, hybrid sunflower seed production requires at least a 1.25-mile field isolation or different planting times. In this study, male sunflower seed is planted in three rows on a single 5-foot bed and female seed is planted in two rows on three 5-foot beds. The field ratio is 25 percent male parent lines to 75 percent female parent lines. With two hives per acre, honey bees are used to cross-pollinate between the parent lines. The male lines are destroyed after pollination to prevent seed contamination of the female lines.
The authors used current production practices to identify costs for the sunflower crop, including material inputs and cash and non-cash overhead. The study includes tables that show profits over a range of prices and net yields, monthly cash costs, costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.
The new study, “Sample Costs to Produce Sunflowers for Hybrid Seed in the Sacramento Valley – 2018,” can be downloaded for free from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu.
Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available at the website.
For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact the Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651 or UC Cooperative Extension advisors Rachael Long at email@example.com, Sarah Light at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Mariano Galla at email@example.com.