UC Agriculture and Natural Resources connects the power of UC research in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition and youth development with local communities to improve the lives of all Californians.
Join us on Tuesday, Nov. 30, for GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals to celebrate generosity worldwide. In 2020, UC ANR raised nearly $200,000 in online donations benefiting participating programs, research and endowments across the state.
- Author: Linda Forbes
A team of UC scientists is working to mitigate “cow bunching” – when dairy cows cluster close together to avoid biting flies – which can cause discomfort, increase heat stress and impede the cows' access to nutritionally balanced food in individual feeding stations. Ambient temperature, relative humidity and trees appear to be factors in the prevalence of stable flies, which are more active during May and June.
“In working with California's dairy industry for 20 years, I have never seen a problem with so much interest and producer pleas for guidance as bunching,” said Sharif Aly, professor of population health and reproduction at the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center in Tulare.
To study the problem, Aly collaborated with Heidi Rossow, professor of Population Health and Reproduction, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center; Alec Gerry, UC Riverside professor of entomology and UC Cooperative Extension specialist; Wagdy Elashmawy, veterinary medicine postdoctoral scholar; Fernanda Ferreira, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in herd health and management economics at UC Davis; and Essam Abdelfattah, a project scientist in Aly's lab.
“In the past, there were a few other reports studying this problem in different parts of the U.S., but we did not have a consistent group of people looking at the problem over time and trying to bring solutions,” said Ferreira. “Now, if farmers want to control the problem, they know what factors to look at. We also measured the economic impact, which brings attention to the problem.”
Among the risk factors for cow bunching they identified were field crops near the cow pen where bunching was observed, feeding rations that contain wet distillers grain or molasses, and an ambient temperature lower than 86 degrees (30 degrees C). In contrast, bunching was reduced when relative humidity was less than 50%, where a cow pen was surrounded by other pens or bordered by a main road and manure removed from fence lines of pens.
The team's study published in PLoS One also identified that cows in pens with trees on the periphery had higher fly counts in comparison to cows in pens away from trees. In addition, dairies feeding by-products including almond hulls, wet distillers grain, fruits and vegetables had higher stable fly trap counts compared to dairies that did not feed these ingredients. At the pen level, cows fed rations that contained straw had lower average fly counts compared to cows fed with rations that did not contain straw.
Rossow and Ferreira also studied the production and economic impacts of adding supplements to feed.
“For dairies, the largest cost is nutrition,” said Rossow. “Any way that dairies can become more feed-efficient and produce more milk for less is a major benefit to the industry.” Their work has focused on understanding which supplements are beneficial to production and economically feasible to introduce.
“These kinds of collaborations help us to ultimately benefit our clientele by translating research into applied knowledge to improve their production,” noted Ferreira.
During his postdoctoral studies with the team, Abdelfattah explored the impact of different treatments to control stable flies on dairies and is currently planning the next phase of the team's research on an integrated stable fly management plan for dairies.
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is pleased to announce a new partnership with the California Stewardship Network to accelerate economic recovery across the state by tapping expertise in broadband development, small-business acumen, agricultural technology and more.
To help communities recover from the recession and expand regional economic-development efforts, UC ANR is investing approximately $3 million to hire 15 new UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) advisors and one specialist. These UCCE experts will collaborate closely with members of the California Stewardship Network – an alliance of regional leaders who are committed to solving state's most pressing economic, environmental and social well-being challenges.
“The California Stewardship Network represents regions across California and each region is different, with its own challenges and opportunities. This UCCE investment brings science and solutions that fit the uniqueness of each region, while partnering across the state to improve our communities,” said Heidi Hill Drum, co-chair of the California Stewardship Network and CEO of the Tahoe Prosperity Center.
The UCCE scientists will leverage existing community and economic development efforts, especially in rural parts of the state, and provide vital expertise in business development, agricultural technology, biomass and wood products, disaster recovery, water justice, controlled environment food production, food systems development, urban resiliency and – crucially – digital infrastructure.
“We've long known how important it was to close the digital divide, but COVID really highlighted the absolutely critical need for all families and communities to have high-quality access to the internet,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
In rural regions of the state, the pandemic, catastrophic wildfires and increased global competition have been whittling away at rural economies. The “working landscapes” of wilderness areas, farms and ranches provide food as well as wildlife habitat, recreational venues, energy and water. Humiston sees vital opportunities to expand revenue in these areas for rural residents.
“For California to thrive, these working landscapes must be managed to yield economic opportunities now and into the future,” Humiston said.
“California needs healthier forests for many reasons – reduced risk from wildfire, producing more water, better habitat and recreation opportunities – but we will not get there if we can't develop valuable uses for the excess biomass that needs to be removed from our forests.”
Hiring is underway for some of the new UC Cooperative Extension positions; others will be released for recruitment in early 2022. The 16 new UCCE positions and the counties they serve include the following:
1. Rural Community and Economic Development Area Advisor (Del Norte, Humboldt, and Trinity)
2. Agricultural Technology (Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Siskiyou County)
3. Biomass and Forest Products Advisor (Siskiyou, Shasta and Trinity)
4. Broadband Development Area Advisor (Butte, Tehama, Glenn)
5. Disaster Recovery for Housing (Plumas, Lassen, Sierra)
6. Water Justice Policy and Planning Specialist (UC Berkeley)
7. Regional Food Systems Area Advisor (Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, Solano)
8. Regional Food Systems Area Advisor (Amador, El Dorado, Calaveras, Tuolumne)
9. Woody Biomass and Forest Products Advisor, (El Dorado, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa)
10. Agriculture Technology Area Advisor, (Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, San Luis Obispo)
11. Technology and Innovation for Small Farms Advisor, (Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fresno County)
12. Community and Economic Development Area Advisor, (Inyo, Mono, Northeastern Kern)
13. Water and Community Resilience Area Advisor, (Kern, Kings, Tulare)
14. Community and Economic Development Area Advisor – (Los Angeles, Orange)
15. Woody Biomass and Bioenergy Advisor, (Riverside, San Bernardino)
16. Agriculture Technology Area Advisor, (South Coast Research and Extension Center in Orange County)
It's been 30 years since John Pehrson retired as a University of California Cooperative Extension citrus specialist, but he left such a lasting impression on the citrus industry that his work is still revered today. Regarded as a model Cooperative Extension advisor, Pehrson was gifted at translating UC research and offering practical solutions to help growers better manage their resources and improve citrus yields during his 38-year UC career.Pehrson is an “encyclopedia of practical and scientific knowledge about citrus,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension citrus specialist and a former colleague of Pehrson. “He developed expertise not only in soils, but also rootstocks, citrus fertility, irrigation and entomology.”
To honor Pehrson's contributions to the citrus industry, growers and associated industry members gathered at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center on Oct. 16 to dedicate the center's administration building as “John E. Pehrson Hall.”
The 94-year-old Pehrson, who attended the event with his proud family, said he was always eager to go to work as a UCCE citrus advisor and specialist, “and I want you all to know that I appreciated the help I had in both the University community and with the industry, and with you growers that are here tonight to recognize me.”
Pehrson joined UC Cooperative Extension as a farm advisor in 1953 for Orange County, moved to UCCE in Tulare County as a citrus advisor in 1966, then became a UCCE subtropical horticultural specialist at Kearney Research and Extension Center in 1980, and transferred in 1982 to Lindcove REC, where he worked until his retirement in 1991.
“I think of Lindcove and ag extension, and all of us who are lucky enough to be in this industry for all these years, you have to think of John Pehrson, because he was such a big part of our success as growers,” said citrus grower Tom Dungan. “When you walked the orchard with John, and I did often, I had all kinds of problems…by the time you were finished walking the orchard, you not only had the original problem that you were trying to solve, but you had about seven others and he wasn't afraid to tell you how to solve them. And sometimes you didn't want to hear that.”
“He loved to come out and help you with your problems, talk about a dedicated guy, I've never known anyone in the industry that was as dedicated as John Pehrson,” Dungan said.
In 1994, the California Citrus Quality Council presented Pehrson with the industry's most prestigious prize, the Albert G. Salter Memorial Award.
“John was an excellent farm advisor and horticultural specialist because he would study the groves, study the literature, run experiments in the San Joaquin Valley and collaborate with other researchers,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “But he also highly respected the practical knowledge of the growers and worked with early adapters of new technologies, helping to advance them.”
In addition to growers, Pehrson's UC colleagues also benefited from his knowledge and concern for the industry, Grafton-Cardwell said. “I was one of them, as I came on board in 1990 a year before John retired. John saw that I was new to citrus and took me under his wing and said, ‘Let's conduct a field experiment.'”
When Lindcove Research and Extension Center started a fundraising campaign, several donors identified the building dedication as an opportunity to support research while also paying tribute to Pehrson, said Grafton-Cardwell, a past director of the center.
“I am honored to have my work recognized in this fashion,” said Pehrson, who currently resides in Claremont in Southern California. “I wish to say that I enjoyed my life as a farm advisor, I really did. I would call it a life of purpose.”
Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, thanked guests for raising over $100,000 to name the building “John E.Pehrson Hall,” saying, “By honoring John and recognizing his accomplishments, you have also invested in supporting the next generation of researchers, allowing us to continue to explore, experiment and develop practical solutions through applied research.”
Eight more UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) advisor positions have been released for recruitment by Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
The UCCE job titles are followed by the counties they will serve:
- Central Sierra local food systems advisor; Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties
- Vertebrate pest management advisor; Napa, Lake and Solano counties
- Specialty crops advisor; Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties
- Viticulture advisor; San Joaquin, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties
- Integrated pest management advisor; San Diego County
- 4-H youth development advisor; Placer and Nevada counties
- Environmental Horticulture Advisor; Los Angeles County
- Fire Advisor; San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties
Including those listed above, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has released 28 UCCE positions for recruitment over the past three months and Humiston plans to announce additional UCCE positions in November. The recruitments are being released in stages to avoid overwhelming the Human Resources team.
“This hiring is made possible by the state's historic investment in UC ANR's mission to bring the power of UC to all 58 California counties and improve the lives of all Californian,” said Humiston.
In 2022, Humiston plans to hire 70 more UCCE specialists and advisors to help Californians better address issues including climate change, wildfires, food security and pest management.