- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
“I feel blessed to have been able to be in an organization that allows you to come to work each day and use the power of the University of California system to solve local problems and help improve people's lives,” Nader said.
After earning a bachelor's degree in animal science at California State University, Chico, and a master's degree in animal nutrition from UC Davis, Nader joined UC ANR in 1982 as a livestock and natural resources advisor in Lassen County. Over the years, advances in information technology dramatically changed the way he communicated with ranchers.
In the early 1980s, Nader mimeographed lengthy newsletters and mailed them to clientele. In recent times, he emailed a paragraph with hyperlinks to more information. While in Lassen County, Nader also maintained a morning agriculture radio program as a method of extending information.
“I am impressed that UC ANR allows advisors to able to lead collaborative groups to solve problems in the field,” Nader said, a practice that he used numerous times over his career.
Examples include his work in the Pine Creek Coordinated Management Plan and the Yuba and Butte counties coordinated pre-fire management plan. A recent article in California Agriculture journal, UC Cooperative Extension works with fire councils to reduce wildfires, highlights the pre-fire plan's role in stopping two potentially catastrophic fires. Although not a fire scientist himself, Nader aggregated the basic concepts from UC Cooperative Extension during a sabbatical leave to be better able to address problems of the local communities he served.
The groups that he worked with were honored with the Smoky Bear Award and the Cal Fire Service Award. The Pine Creek CRMP group's work was cited as a reason to not list the Eagle Lake trout as endangered. Nader also used his animal science background to work with other advisors to publish information on how grazing could be used as a tool reduce fuels.
In 1996, Nader transferred to Sutter and Yuba counties. He said looks back on the rice straw research he conducted with animal science specialist Peter Robinson there with a sense of fulfillment. Their work over 14 years showed that preventing rice straw from drying greatly increases the nutritional value to animals. Their work was one of the UC Cooperative Extension programs recognized with the Circle of Life award from the California Rice Commission.
Nader was named the Cattleman of the Year from both the Lassen and Butte county Cattlemen's associations. He was recognized by the California Cattlemen's Association for his education and research work. The Butte and Yuba Fire Safe Councils honored Nader for his assistance in forming and for actively participating in their councils.
“I saw the councils as the perfect platform to extend research information to local residents on what they could do to reduce their risks to wildfire,” Nader said.
During a presentation to UC President Dynes on pre-fire planning, the resulting discussion revealed a need to teach the thermal transfer process for people to better understand how fire science related to fire safety recommendations.
“This is an example of how the interaction with UC faculty that can perfect the impact of Cooperative Extension,” he said.
Nader said he especially enjoyed the people he worked with during his career.
“I appreciate all the clientele and ANR staff that allowed me to greatly enjoy the blessing of being a farm advisor for 32 years,” Nader said.
During retirement he plans to spend more time with his wife Marie and son Alan on their Modoc County ranch.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The California drought has ranchers desperate for inexpensive livestock feed. Air quality protection regulations that limit rice straw burning leave the rice industry with an abundance of typically low-quality straw to unload. Though it has rarely been done, Nader believes special treatment of rice straw will make it a nutritious cattle food. Two problems solved.
Nader will introduce producers to this new way to get through the drought at a meeting from 9 a.m. to 12 noon July 29 at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 525 W. Sycamore St., Willows, Calif.
When rice straw dries, its value as a forage declines dramatically. For 15 years, UC researchers have been trying to figure out why, but the reason for the significant change is not understood at this time.
“At one time, we thought the problem was silica in the straw,” Nader said. “We grew silica-free rice. That didn't work. We thought it was the crystallinity of molecules in the straw. We parsed apart the plant, and we still don't know.”
Ultimately, it was a rancher who suggested the scientists to put aside their desire to know why quality declines when rice straw dries and look for practical ways to get around it. Nader postponed his retirement to comply.
Normally, rice growers bale the straw two to four days after harvest. Nader and his colleagues instead baled the straw immediately after it exited the grain harvester. They stacked the green straw bales and covered them with a tarp to retain moisture and prevent spontaneous combustion. The result is a product they named “strawlage.” One worry is mold. The researchers found that treating the straw with propionic acid prevents fungus growth.
“We haven't figured everything out, but with the drought conditions as serious as they are, we feel the time is right to share our research with growers,” Nader said. “We invite producers to come to the meeting to see if this will work for their operations. Several producers who have already fed strawlage to their cattle will speak at the meeting about their experiences.”
Nader believes the UC research into using rice straw for livestock feed will be helpful throughout the world.
Asian farmers produce rice straw in great abundance and their livestock would benefit significantly if the farmers worked to maintain the plant's moisture until it reaches cattle feeding troughs.
The July 29 meeting will cover:
- Nutritional advantages of strawlage over rice straw
- The challenges of baling the straw at 50 to 60 percent moisture
- Additives to prevent mold
- How to stake and tarp strawlage
- The costs associated with the practice
- How cows that ate strawlage last year fared
“Our goal is to give producers information that will allow them to make rice strawlage during this fall's harvest,” Nader said. “Both cattle and rice producers are encouraged to attend.”