- Author: Liz Sizensky
VP Glenda Humiston moderated the closing plenary panel on March 23 at the California Water Policy Conference held at the UC Davis Conference Center. The panel discussed the Future of Agriculture in California.
“Assemblymember Anna Caballero, sixth-generation farmers Fritz Durst and Cannon Michael, and Jeff Payne of Friant Water Authority all offered promising ideas,” Humiston said. “Their projects, including Caballero's California Farm Bill, Durst's Sites Project, Michael's Bowles Farm and Payne's Friant Water Authority speak to sustainable solutions for agricultural economic development, which is tied to rural economic development. Also, it's great to see support for UCCE in Caballero's California Farm Bill.”
The UC California Institute for Water Resources (CIWR) has announced the recipients of six grants to address the most critical water issues in the state. For this program, the Institute leverages funds it receives from the Water Resources Research Act of 1964 through the Department of Interior.
CIWR, which is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, facilitates collaborative research and outreach on water issues across California's academic institutions and with international, federal, state, regional, nonprofit, and campus communities.
Small grants to support initial work will be dispersed to the following projects (click the headline for more information):
Suitability of alfalfa for winter groundwater recharge
Helen Dahlke, professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis
One proposed solution for recharging overdrawn aquifers is flooding farmland during the rainy season. Optimizing agricultural groundwater banking for specific crops can be challenging. The goal of this project is to better understand how alfalfa, which is grown year-round, responds to winter flooding.
Fish habitat response to streamflow augmentation
Ted Grantham, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management, UC Berkeley
Declining water levels can degrade or eliminate fish habitat during California's summer season. Storing water off-channel during the rainy season can improve flow during the summer. The study is designed to gain a better understanding of the relationship between stream flow and habitat.
Remote sensing of turfgrass response to irrigation
Amir Haghverdi, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, UC Riverside
Turfgrass is common in urban landscapes and provides valuable recreation areas and ecosystem services. This project will help determine the best irrigation strategies for common turfgrass species.
Habitat restoration impacts on water management
Eric Palkovacs, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz
The natural conditions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have been changed by habitat alteration and non-native predacious fish introduction. This project will examine the interplay between altered habitat and predatory fish, and how they impact native salmon populations.
Evaluating water conservation policy in California
Leah Stokes, professor in the Department of Political Science, UC Santa Barbara
During the recent drought, California required that on-average urban water districts conserve 25 percent of their water. While some districts were successful, others failed to meet their target. This project will examine how variation in policy – pricing, messaging and penalties – and drought severity affected water conservation.
Groundwater dynamics after California drought
Amelia Vankeuren, professor in the Department of Geology, Sacramento State University
As part of California's groundwater management act, some basins were designated as high management priorities. This project will characterize groundwater using age, location and temperature. This information will be valuable for stakeholders creating a groundwater sustainability plan.
The following is a report by Henry Vaux Jr., director of the Rosenberg International Forum on Water.
The Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, a program of UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources, commissions the preparation of papers addressed to the theme. These papers are read by participants ahead of the actual meeting and become the focus of round table discussions, which are at the core of the program. The papers are ultimately published together with a summary of the findings and conclusions reached at the advisory committee meeting of the forum.
The forum's sessions focused on: 1) the scientific bases of moist climates, 2) the problems of conserving biodiversity in humid areas, 3) the variability of climate and water availability in different realms around the world, and 4) the global implications of El Niño and drought.
To read a summary of the findings, visit http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/files/232208.pdf.
The Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy originated in 1996 with an endowment gift from the Bank of America to the University of California. The purpose of the gift was to support a water policy forum in honor of then-retiring Bank Chair and CEO Richard Rosenberg. The forum is held every other year in different locations around the world. Participation is limited to 50 water scholars and senior water managers. Interactive discussions about the science of water management and different experiences in water management around the globe are at the heart of the forum.
During the visit, Ross and the Netherlands Minister of Agriculture Martijin van Dam signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate on shared agricultural issues.
“The agreement between California and the Netherlands can speed up solutions for the agricultural industry to adapt to climate change,” Humiston said. “With Dutch collaboration on climate-smart research, we'll be able to develop new technology and improve agricultural productivity faster.”
“The innovations in water use, green house technology and saline agriculture are practical on-farm solutions that can assist California's farmers,” Ross wrote in the blog.
At Wageningen University's research farm, the group met Salt Farm Texel growers who are using saline water to produce food crops such as potatoes and tomatoes. “California has both saline groundwater and saline soils in some areas,” Parker said. “In those areas, our growers may be able to use some of their techniques.”
Noting that the Netherlands has similar water quality concerns to California's, Parker said, “The people we met in the Netherlands are interested in learning from our efforts to find ways to help our agricultural sector produce healthy, environmental sound and sustainable products.”
“With our partners at the University of California, we have the opportunity to expand collaboration with Wageningen UR to develop joint research projects on climate smart agriculture – bringing the lessons and practices learned in the Netherlands, home to California,” Ross wrote. “When I see the reuse of water for food production, taste horticultural products grown with salt water and observe the production gains that greenhouse management systems can bring to our berry industry – these are connections that our growers would be eager to learn more about.”
Humiston said, “We will be following up with our new friends in the Netherlands to look at ways our researchers can exchange ideas and information with their Dutch counterparts.”
The Netherlands is just one of the countries facing challenges similar to those in California where UC ANR hopes to increase collaboration. On Jan. 12 and 13, UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources will be co-sponsoring “Proven Solutions to Drought Stress: Water Management Strategies for Perennial Crops with Limited and Impaired Water Supplies,” a workshop in Modesto for scientists from Israel and Australia to discuss drought management with California scientists.
“This year, proposals are requested in the junior investigator category only,” said Doug Parker, CIWR director.
Funded projects will begin March 1, 2016. The funding period may fluctuate and is based on budget appropriations.
The deadline for submission is Oct. 30, 2015.
To download the full RFP, including budget templates, visit the CIWR website at http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/Request_for_Proposals.