- 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.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The daylong forum, part of ANR’s Statewide Conference in Ontario, Calif., will feature two moderated panels and keynote addresses by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and Wes Jackson, founder and president of The Land Institute.
Michael Specter, global issues writer for The New Yorker magazine, will moderate the first panel, which will focus on the geopolitical, ethical, economic, environmental and technical challenges facing food systems from a global perspective. Award-winning author and journalist Mark Arax will moderate the second panel, which will address the implications, responsibilities and innovative opportunities from a California perspective.
The panelists will include a mix of UC and non-UC experts and thought leaders. View a list of speakers at http://food2025.ucanr.edu/Speakers.
“As a public research university, we’re a recognized leader in tackling the world’s toughest challenges,” said Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Building on our expertise in agriculture and finding practical, science-based solutions, it falls to us to convene these sorts of conversations and look far beyond the borders of our campuses. Only through discussions of this nature will people find the common ground to move the world forward on what is a compelling, complex and crucial issue.”
The general public is encouraged to view the live webcast and join the conversation on Twitter by following (hashtag)Food2025. To learn more about the UC Global Food Systems Forum and to sign up to view the webcast, visit http://food2025.ucanr.edu.
Food forum at a glance
- WHAT: Live webcast of UC Global Food Systems Forum at http://food2025.ucanr.edu
- WHO: World-renowned leaders in food systems dialogue. See a list at http://food2025.ucanr.edu/Speakers
- WHEN: April 9, 2013 (9 a.m.-5 p.m. PDT)
- WHERE: Register for the webcast at http://food2025.ucanr.edu/Webinar
- Author: Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Most dairy breeding programs select for milk production but the results of this study indicate that the cow's conformation, particularly in terms of hoof health, also should be considered," said Anita Oberbauer, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Animal Science and lead author of the study. The study is published in the October issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.
By reducing hoof-health problems through selective breeding, dairy producers could increase herd longevity, improve milk yield and reduce economic inputs and environmental impacts related to raising replacement heifers, the study concludes.
Oberbauer noted that lameness and hoof health are also animal welfare issues that can cause dairy producers to cull, or retire, cows early from their milking herds. As of 2011, an average of more than 40 percent of California dairy cows were culled annually, and lameness was one of the top three reasons for culling.
The 29-month study, conducted on three California dairies, correlated milk-production records with weekly observations of hoof health problems for more than 5,000 cows, including those that were visibly lame and those that were "dry," or finishing their milking cycle.
Recorded lameness-related hoof conditions included white line disease, sole ulcer, other claw horn lesions, foot rot and foot warts.
Foot warts were the most prevalent of the ailments, occurring in more than 17 percent of the monitored cows. The research also demonstrated a sizable genetic component to sole ulcer and foot warts, indicating that a breeding program directed at reducing hoof disease will likely lead to measurable improvements.
The study concluded that a breeding program that considers hoof-health traits would be unlikely to jeopardize the cows' milk productivity.
Oberbauer said that further study is now needed to identify the specific genes or DNA regions that are responsible for hoof-health traits.
UC Davis has helped to make California the nation's largest dairy state, contributing to better sanitation procedures, improvements in raw milk handling and quality, and innovations that have reduced the environmental impact of livestock waste. The J-5 vaccine alone, developed in 1988 by veterinary medicine faculty to prevent mastitis in dairy cattle, saves producers $11 million annually. Faculty research carried out at UC Davis also helped eradicate bluetongue virus in parts of the United States and rinderpest in much of Africa. Both diseases affect livestock.
Collaborating researchers on this study included Steven Berry, a Cooperative Extension dairy management specialist, staff researcher Janelle Belanger, alumna Rachel Goldrick and Professor Thomas Famula, all of the UC Davis Department of Animal Science; and Juan Manuel Pinos-Rodriguez of Instituto de Investigacion de Zonas Deserticas, Mexico.
The W.K. Kellogg Endowment and the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources division funded the study.