- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Innovation is key to keeping California farmers globally competitive. On Friday, May 5, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources will forge a formal agreement to better connect the state's farmers with each other and with science-based information sources to assure the sustainability of the state's agricultural systems. Representatives of the six organizations will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to form the California Farm Demonstration Network.
The scarcity of water, fossil fuel use, carbon emissions, groundwater quality, labor cost and availability, air quality and loss of soil fertility are some of the challenges to the long-term viability of farming in California. Soils and their sustained health play a major role in keeping California's agriculture viable for future generations.
“What we are striving to accomplish with the California Farm Demonstration Network is to create a means for farmers to learn, to discover and to innovate,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist, who is leading the effort with technical and funding assistance from MOU partners.
- Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
- Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation
- Ron Tjeerdema, associate dean of UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
- Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Karen Buhr, executive director of California Association of Resource Conservation Districts
- Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
WHEN: Friday, May 5
12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. – Demonstration of differences in soil function resulting from management practices.
1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – Network partners describe their respective roles.
WHERE: Dixon Ridge Farms, 5430 Putah Creek Road, Winters, CA
VISUALS: A rainfall simulator will spray water over trays of different soils to show how on-farm management practices help the soil hold together.
Network partners will sign the memorandum of understanding.
The statewide farm demonstration network builds upon and connects efforts across California including one created in Glenn County last year.
In Glenn County, the farmer-driven effort has provided the opportunity for local farmers to share innovative practices and hold honest discussions about opportunities and challenges related to these systems.
“The collaborative effort of the partners presents the opportunity to leverage resources based on local needs and increases the likelihood that innovative agricultural practices will be adopted sooner than they might have been without the networking opportunity,” said Betsy Karle, UC Cooperative Extension director in Glenn County.
With the California Farm Demonstration Network, the organizers hope to create more opportunities to connect local people, showcase existing farmer innovation, engage in new local demonstration evaluations of improved performance practices and systems, evaluate the demonstration practices, and share information with partners. They also hope to expand and connect other local farm-demonstration hubs throughout the state via educational events, video narratives and a web-based information portal.
If 4-H has touched your life, raise your hand. Visit http://4-H.org/raiseyourhand to voice your support for the California 4-H youth development program, help it win a national competition, and connect with a network of 4-H alumni and friends.
You are considered alumni if you were in a 4-H Club, took part in a 4-H after-school program, served as a volunteer leader, or taught a project. Friends of 4-H are also invited to raise their hands.
“Having experienced our programs first-hand, our alumni know about the positive impact of 4-H,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and a 4-H alumna. UC ANR is the umbrella organization of 4-H in California.
As part of the new 4-H network being built in the 4-H Raise Your Hand campaign, members will get news about 4-H programs in California and stay in touch with a program that made a difference in their lives.
“I've raised my hand,” said Humiston, who credits 4-H with helping her become the first in her family to attend college. She later served in the Peace Corps, received a federal appointment from President Obama and now leads the statewide research and outreach arm of UC.
The National 4-H program, which currently empowers nearly 6 million youth across the country, aims to extend its reach to 10 million by 2025. It has launched a competition among states to see which ones can add the most alumni and friends to the network by June 30, 2017. A map showing the current front runners is on the registration page.
“We need the help of all 4-H members, their teachers, leaders and friends to build the California network,” Humiston said. “The prize is $20,000, and if we win, that money will fund California 4-H youth leadership programs.”
Another well-known 4-H alum is Grammy-award winning musician and actress Jennifer Nettles.
“4-H gives kids the opportunity to learn by doing, to grow from not only the encouragements brought by success, but also through challenges and failures,” Nettles said. “These skills will help them to handle whatever life may throw their way.”
The California 4-H youth development program is open to all youth aged 5 through 19 years old. For more information about California 4-H or to join a program, go to http://4H.ucanr.edu.
The same day, an opening ceremony launches a journey of exploration into the world of food production and healthy eating for a group of 8- and 9-year-old Mexican children.
The UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program sponsors clubs that combine hands-on learning and positive youth-adult partnerships to help children develop skills they need to succeed in life.
“Children in Mexico also need to find and focus their passions, they need life skills and support in order to become responsible citizens and give back to the community,” said Lupita Fabregas, 4-H Youth Development advisor and assistant director for 4-H diversity and expansion. “We have decades of experience and extensive programming to offer. It is a natural partnership.”
Humiston was a member of 4-H herself as a youth and credits the program for setting in motion a successful career that includes serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, earning a doctorate degree at UC Berkeley, playing a role in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama presidential administrations, and later taking the helm at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“I encourage all children to find a place like 4-H to work with mentors, get hands-on experience, and learn about their own potential,” Humiston said. “This historic agreement will allow children in Mexico to benefit from a 100-year-old program that has had tremendous success in the United States and it will build academic, scientific, technological and cultural relations between Mexico and California for the advancement of children.”
The new club in the Mexicali community of Sinaloa will have access to two greenhouses that belong to the Secretary of Agricultural Development in Baja, Mexico, where they will grow cucumbers and tomatoes while they learn about soil science, irrigation, nutrition education and other components of agricultural science.
The children will also learn leadership skills by taking a new role in their communities, running in club elections, speaking in public and reporting on their work. The children's parents will also be encouraged to serve as volunteer leaders, mentors and educators.
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Secretary of Agricultural Development in Baja, Mexico, sign a memorandum of understanding.
Opening ceremony for the first club modeled after the successful California 4-H Youth Development Program in Ejido Sinaloa, Baja Mexico.
Friday, Jan. 20
9:30 to 9:50 a.m. – Memorandum of understanding signing
9:50 to 11:50 a.m. – Children take part in their first session of 4-H programming, learning “Where does our food come from?”
Secretaria de Fomento Agropuecuario
Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources
Manuel Valladolid Seamanduras, secretary of the Mexican agricultural development program (La Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario de Baja, México)
Parents, students, teachers, principal, University of Baja California personnel, 4-H volunteers, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development staff and academics
Children participating in a 4-H Club project that involves healthy eating and agricultural production.
Jeannette Warnert, (559) 240-9850 (call or text), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
A gardening and produce-sharing app took top prize in the Apps for Ag hackathon, after contestants pitched judges at the California State Fair in Sacramento on Sunday (July 17). The first place team, GivingGarden, took home $7,500 in prize money, custom rodeo belt buckles and a six-month, top-tier membership to the AgStart Incubator in Woodland.
Second place was awarded to Sense and Protect, a mobile task-management app that connects to climate sensors to protect farmworkers' health and enhance their productivity. Sense and Protect team members Dhrubajyoti Das, Alex Avalos, Anthony Johnson and Peter Swanson share $4,500.
Third place went to ACP STAR System, a geo and temporal database and platform for tracking Asian citrus psyllid and other invasive pests. Team members Mark Takata and Chinh Lam share $2,500.
The top three teams will also receive complimentary startup incorporation services valued at $2,200 from Royse Law.
All of the participating teams had about 48 hours to develop their apps. Teams that were interested were offered $500 in “cloud credits” to build their solutions and host them on Amazon Web Services' platform. Teams also had access to an IoT kit to incorporate connected devices into their solution.
The top four teams pitched their apps to judges in front of a live audience at the California State Fair.
The Apps for Ag hackathon, which was sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California State Fair and the City of Sacramento, brought together software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers and others who work in agriculture.
“Using technology we can find better ways to reduce pesticide use, increase irrigation efficiency, reduce travel into the fields, manage people better, and deal with the fact that we have a huge labor shortage in this state,” said Humiston, who served as one of the Apps for Ag judges.
The other judges included University of California Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola, USDA Chief Data Officer Bobby Jones, and Better Food Ventures and Mixing Bowl Hub founder Rob Trice.
For more information about Apps for Ag, visit http://www.apps-for-ag.com.
Half the funds for the endowed chairs was provided by UC President Janet Napolitano; the other half was donated by the California Pistachio Research Board. One is the UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Genetics; the other is the UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Soil Science and Plant Water Relations.
“The establishment of endowed chairs represents an historic occasion for UC ANR and is something we've never before enjoyed during the 100-years UC ANR Cooperative Extension has served California,” Humiston said. “The pistachio industry's contribution demonstrates its high level of confidence in our research and outreach program, and President Napolitano's match shows her recognition of the work we do not only on campuses but throughout UC ANR.”
UCCE is the applied research and outreach arm of the University of California that serves the agricultural industry, coordinates the 4-H program, supports natural resources stewardship, and provides nutrition education programs throughout the state.
The California Pistachio Research Board has a long history of funding ANR research. Since its establishment in 2007, the program's donations have totaled more than $3 million. Relative to other major California commodities, pistachio production is new. The first commercial crop was produced in 1976. In 2014, farmers harvested 519 million pounds of pistachios, valued at $1.8 billion.
Tom Coleman, a Fresno County pistachio farmer and chair of the Pistachio Research Board, said he enjoys informally comparing notes with other growers, but that doesn't substitute for scientific research.
“I find it absolutely invaluable to have good scientific research to apply on our farms,” Coleman said. “With impending changes in our water situation and a changing climate, research is really our only option.”
In fact, the industry has already felt the impact of climate change on yield. The pistachio growers expect the 2015 yield to be nearly 50 percent lower than the previous year, in large part due to a lack of sufficient winter chilling and water supply cuts, said Bob Klein, manager of the California Pistachio Research Board.
“We know that our future is going to look better with more research as we face the challenges of a warming climate and less water,” Klein said.
Napolitano created the Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs last year for UC campuses and UC ANR to use as an incentive to encourage donors to establish endowed chairs to fund research. Endowed chairs help attract and retain top-flight academics. Once established, endowed chairs provide a dedicated source of funds, in perpetuity, for the chair holder's scholarly activities.
“Donors who endow chairs are helping support the agricultural industry today, and contributing to future growth, innovation and success,” Humiston said. “We hope to establish more endowed chairs in UC Cooperative Extension with the help of our partners.”
View the announcement in the 12-minute video below: