- (Public Value) UCANR: Building climate-resilient communities and ecosystems
Here is a summary of some of the work our office is doing during shelter in place.
Fire & Resiliency
UCCE Sonoma is building on the foundational work of other county departments such as Sonoma Water and Permit Sonoma, by providing outreach to private landowners to address forest health, vegetation management and fire fuel reduction.
Lake Sonoma Decision Support System: Development of an online geo spatial reporting tool to help landowners assess:
Match.Graze: development of an online database that connects land owners and grazers.
- Filmed educational videos
- Creating website
- Current status: roll out in early June.
Good Fire Alliance: partnership with Audubon Canyon Ranch to assist landowners in managing fire fuels through prescribed burning on private and publicly owned lands. The following prescribed fires are in the active planning stage:
- 100+ acre burn unit at Cooley Ranch near Lake Sonoma; late May.
- Sonoma Ecology Center is planning a burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve; late May - early June.
- Bodega Pastures spanning several weekends in October/November.
Resilient Landscapes: Master Gardener collaborative project to:
- Host Firewise webinars
- Develop materials for Fire Safe Sonoma's Living with Fire brochure and webpage resource.
- Post Fire Survival/Mortality: research project to develop a quick and simple post-fire tree survival reference tool to aid with triage of burned landscapes.
- Working with local fire departments to homogenize fire-resilient landscape standards.
Oak Tree Health: organized, hosted and presented:
- California Oak Workshop with science based oak health information. Over 500 participants.
- Sudden Oak Death Blitz pivoted to online, educating and distributing 93 test kits to the public.
Food Systems & Security
- “Stay Home Grow Food” series has reached over 350 people with videos plus resources via an extensive social media campaign.
- Gardener Sense program delivered by video conference to help homeowners reduce water use.
- Master Gardener's are pivoting their classes to webinars.
The value of a strong, connected local food system to sustain the resiliency of our communities has never been more clear.
Coordinating with Sonoma County Food System Alliance and strategizing for a series of video conferences on longer term emergency food response planning & strengthening the local food supply chain looking to local production & distribution as part of meeting food need.
- Meeting on March 23 with over 50 emergency food responders to strategize on coronavirus response.
- Chairing the Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) Food group. Continue to collaborate with the group to meet the needs of emergency food organizations.
- Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition
UCCE used connections to secure donations of over 12,000 wine boxes to
Redwood Empire Food Bank for boxing and distributing food.
Local Meat Supplies: Mobile Slaughter Unit (MSU)
UCCE is working with local livestock producers in Marin/Sonoma to create a business plan for an MSU which can assist local livestock producers with a local, safe option for processing livestock.
- Applying for USDA grant to assist these producers to determine the functionality of keeping it in production.
- Will develop educational and management strategies to ensure economic security for small-scale livestock producers.
Integrated Pest Management
- Collaborating with UC Davis researchers to continue projects that address soil and fungal pests that shorten the lifespan of vineyards.
Critical research on the newly detected invasive Mediterranean oak borer (pictured) found in valley oak in eastern Sonoma County. Collaborators include Cal Fire, US Forest Service, and CDFA.
4-H youth educational programs have continued to engage youth and adults with online technologies.
- Developed fact sheets to support volunteer educators in delivering online programs available at Youth Development Resources
- Short-term educational programs have been implemented reaching elementary-aged children with science and art content.
- Ongoing programming has been transitioning online focused for teens around college and career readiness (Juntos 4-H) and youth participatory action research.
Annual Sonoma 4-H Open House and ChickenQue transitioned from a full-day chicken BBQ lunch fundraiser to a radiothon.
- Partnered with local radio The Bull 93.7 to do a radiothon.
- The station promoted 4-H with interviews of staff, volunteers, and youth.
- The event also served as a public awareness campaign showcasing the program's legacy helping youth reach their full potential.
Working with local dairy and livestock producers to apply for grants from CDFA to reduce greenhouse gases:
- Alternative Manure Management Program
- Healthy Solis Program
If funded, these grants would bring over $5 million to reduce GHG by 4,154 MTeCO2
Support Local Producers
- Working with local creameries and FEED Sonoma, to develop a dairy CSA box option.
- Revisit the County Lands for Food Production program initiated by UCCE to increase the availability of county owned land to communities, farmers and ranchers.
- Find Local Food & Aid the Community
Providing information and updates.
Coronavirus Resources webpages provides information for agricultural enterprises focusing on financial resources, Ag worker safety and food safety and includes resources for where to find food from local farms and for opportunities to volunteer.
Sonoma county residents love their oak trees, and with good reason: Oak woodlands are a source of immense value not just to the more than 330 types of animals and hundreds of other organisms they support, but also to the cultural, economic, and social fabric of our society. Sudden oak death (SOD) threatens to unhinge these systems, imperil biodiversity, create hazard trees or fuel for fires, and potentially infect agriculturally or horticulturally important plants. So whether it means adapting educational events to virtual spaces, delivering materials by mail, training online, answering home phones instead of staffing the Master Gardener desk, or collecting leaves for the SOD blitz by bicycle while wearing a mask and social distancing, the UCCE Sonoma SOD Program is not letting COVID-19 slow us down.
A key endeavor of this group is the yearly Sudden Oak Death Blitz in partnership with UC Berkeley's Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab. This state-wide citizen science project allows landowners to receive free testing of California bay laurel and tanoak leaves, contribute to long-term scientific research, and update the SOD Map Mobile app used by landowners and professionals to assess disease risk in their area. As SOD Blitz creator Dr. Matteo Garbelotto wrote in a letter addressed to all Californians about this year's program,
“The SOD Blitzes have become a tradition for many, while providing key information to help us save our oaks from a devastating disease.”
UCCE Sonoma hosts six blitz events annually whereas most counties hold just one, and we were eager to test new areas of tree mortality that were discovered after last-year's blitz had already passed. Here's how we made it work:
- Training took place online.
- Three Zoom sessions were set up with SOD team members for participant questions.
- Collection packets were mailed to most participants, and the rest picked up following strict safety guidelines supervised by staff.
- Leaves were collected at homes and on public land by walkers, cyclists, and others engaging in outdoor exercise.
- Kashia Pomo staff continued to sample on their land.
- In collaboration with SSU's Center for Environmental Inquiry, we hosted the only SOD blitz in the state that was fully bilingual in Spanish and English.
Despite limitations posed by COVID-19 regarding how to train volunteers, access areas where leaves could be sampled, and safely pass materials and samples between participants and blitz organizers, this year's campaign is on track to be even more successful than 2019. Returning leaves by mail instead of in-person allowed residents on the coast and other remote areas to participate easily, leading to a better geographic distribution of sampling. Online trainings and Q&A sessions, though less personal and lacking physical demonstrations, encouraged people with schedule constraints to give the blitz a try. One participant with extra time on his hands reported that he thought this was a great way to give back to the community in a time of need. Based on the number of participants and collection packets requested, we estimate a 15% increase in sampling from last year, including all major areas of Sonoma county and most of Mendocino county.
And things are just getting started. Though a SOD-themed Plant Walk with the local Milo Baker chapter of the California Native Plant Society was postponed, discussions are underway about creating a live virtual field trip in its place, complete with 360 degree photos of highlighted spots along the trail. Similarly, SOD Specialist Master Gardeners have been presenting at public library series' for years, and are now hoping to create a recorded version to be posted on UCCE Sonoma's Sudden Oak Death webpage. Check back for announcements on these and other happenings.
Our gratitude goes out to every volunteer who has invested their time in staying educated, spreading the word, and participating in citizen science with us over the years, especially during the current shelter-in-place, with special recognition for our dedicated team of SOD Specialist Master Gardeners. We couldn't help our oaks without you!
- Author: Randi Black
The University of California Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County received funding to assist farmers and ranchers in applying for these funds.
The AMMP program provides financial assistance for the implementation of non-digester manure management practices in California, which will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. These practices include solid separation, conversion from flush to scrape manure collection, increased pasture access, and construction of a compost bedded pack barn.
The program offers a maximum project award of $750,000 without the requirement of a cost share. Applications are currently being accepted and the deadline to apply is March 27th, 2020 at 5:00 pm PT. If you are interested in this program and would like more information, visit the CDFA AMMP page.
For assistance in project development and submitting an application, contact:
Randi Black, Dairy Advisor, UCCE Sonoma County, firstname.lastname@example.org, 707-565-2648
The HSP has two components:
- HSP Incentives Program
- HSP Demonstration Projects
The HSP Incentives Program provides financial assistance for implementation of conservation management that improve soil health, sequester carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Incentives projects are eligible for a maximum award of $100,000 with no cost share required.
The HSP Demonstration Projects showcase California farmers and rancher's implementation of HSP practices. Demonstration projects can be either data collection focused with outreach and education components ($250,000 maximum award) or just focus on outreach ($100,000 maximum award).
Applications are not yet being accepted, but are expected to open in February with the deadline for submission in April. If you are interested in this program and would like more information, visit the CDFA Healthy Soils Program webpage.
For assistance in project development and submitting an application, contact:
Stephanie Larson, Livestock & Range Management Advisor, UCCE Sonoma County, email@example.com,707-565-2621/h3>/h3>
- Author: Karen Giovannini
We are pleased to share our 2019 Annual Report available in two formats! We have our print version and are excited to present our story map version!
Special thanks to Michelle Nozzari for putting together the story map version and Deborah Curle for the print version.
Compost bedded pack (CBP) barns are an increasingly popular open barn design for housing dairy cattle, particularly with funding opportunities available through the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Alternative Manure Management Program. These barns allow natural resting positions and offer shelter with a reduced infrastructure cost compared to traditional freestall barns. However, proper barn design and excellent daily management are essential for successful composting and to avoid negative animal health outcomes. A successful CBP begins with three key principles: bedding, stocking density, and air flow.
In a CBP barn, bedding is more than an absorbent lying surface for your cows. Bedding acts as the carbon source, or essentially food, for the microorganisms within the composting bed. Before deciding to construct a CBP barn, consider where and at what cost you can acquire a continuous supply of bedding material. A mixture of kiln-dried sawdust and shavings remains the “gold standard” for CBP bedding. Other bedding alternatives exist, though may require more frequent additions and result in less efficient composting. Moisture content (and not time) determines when additional bedding needs to be added. The CBP should be between 45 and 55% moisture. To quickly test moisture, grab a handful of compost material and squeeze it. If water drips out of the ball, the CBP is too wet and you should add more bedding. If the material cannot form a ball, the CBP is too dry and you can wait before adding more bedding.
Animal numbers can fluctuate on a dairy. A CBP is not always forgiving to those fluctuations. Stocking rates in a CBP are driven by the urine and fecal outputs of the cows. Producers should aim to provide 125 to 150 square feet per Holstein cow. Smaller framed cows, such as a Jersey, require less space. Overcrowding the barn results in too much moisture, dirty cows, and potential for udder health consequences. High stocking rates can also pack down the CBP, restricting air flow to the microbes and reducing composting efficiency. When planning the foot print of the barn, design for the peak number of animals and not the average to ensure adequate space year round.
The aerobic composting process requires oxygen. Adequate air flow is not only important for cow health and comfort but also to feed air into to CBP. Designing the barn with high side walls and fans provides natural and mechanical ventilation. Proper ventilation ensures microbes are supplied adequate oxygen essential for proper composting. Limiting the air available to microbes can reduce or stop composting. Twice daily stirring of the pack (without fail!) is also essential for composting success. A field cultivator accomplishes deep aeration (10-12”). A rototiller provides more shallow aeration (6-8”) with more breakdown of larger compost chunks and a more uniform surface.
- Is there a source of year round bedding material which is affordable and consistent?
- Add additional bedding based on CBP moisture content
- Provide 125 to 150 sq. ft. per cow (Holstein; less for Jersey)
- Design the barn for peak animal numbers
- Stir the pack twice daily, without fail!
- Ventilate barn with natural and mechanical ventilation to ensure aerobic environment for composting
Questions about CBP barn design and management? Contact Randi Black at (707) 565-2648 or firstname.lastname@example.org