- Author: Mike Hsu
UC Cooperative Extension team in Sutter and Yuba counties showcases UC ANR programs, community partners
When dozens of elementary schoolers gathered to watch a live calf birth at Tollcrest Dairy in Yuba County, their comments ranged from “disgusting but cool” to “I saw something that maybe I'm too young to see.”
Expanding horizons, growing knowledge and gently pushing some limits were at the heart of a four-week day camp, Ag-Venture, organized by the University of California Cooperative Extension office serving Sutter and Yuba counties.
Throughout July, more than 80 campers – ages 5 through 12 – explored agriculture and science topics through field trips across the region, hands-on activities and lively presentations by UCCE advisors, UC Master Gardeners, 4-H specialists, UC Master Food Preservers and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC educators. All these groups fall under the umbrella of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
A grant from The Center at Sierra Health Foundation funded this day camp for underserved youth focused on agriculture and natural resources – the first of its kind in the area. Exploring the themes of “Interesting Insects,” “Foods and Farms,” “Woods and Water” and “Awesome Animals,” the campers learned directly from community experts and UC ANR scientists.
“Some of the kids might think scientists are only wearing lab coats and working with genetics and DNA and human-based science, but here they got to see agricultural scientists and natural scientists,” said Rayna Barden, the 4-H community education specialist who led the camp. “It was a cool way to showcase what ANR does and what we have to offer.”
Youth gain wide range of experiences, knowledge
Visits to local farms and ranches – with many chances to greet the animals – were a highlight for many of the camp participants.
“I liked learning about agriculture and the interactive activities,” said a fourth grader. “I saw a baby cow coming out of its mama, and they [farm staff] had to use a tool. It was cool.”
A sixth grader said: “I learned that feed is made up of everyday items, like almond shells and beer hops!”
“Sheep, cows and goats have one stomach and four chambers,” added another sixth grader.
That digestive tidbit was absorbed by the campers after a visit with UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor Dan Macon at Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, a facility operated by UC ANR in Browns Valley.
“We have 4-H kids and FFA kids in high school who still don't know how the four chambers work!” Barden said. “These kids had it and it was so cool to see that they remembered that from a previous day.”
Time and time again, Barden said she was amazed at how much the campers retained. After a visit to Bullards Bar Reservoir, a seven-year-old was able to explain why the dam is curved. Another young boy could draw his own interpretation of the water cycle. And several campers talked about the rice presentation for weeks.
Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE county director for Sutter and Yuba counties and a rice advisor, had the participants touch and feel different rice seeds and varieties. The campers also got to plant a few rice seeds to take home.
“But their favorite part – and what they talked about for the rest of camp – was the tadpole shrimp,” Brim-DeForest said. “We brought some live and preserved specimens, and they loved them!”
Sparking ideas for future careers
One third-grade camper said she enjoyed learning the differences between agricultural pests and beneficial insects.
“And you can do stuff to help the good bugs,” she said, adding that she would like to pursue a career working with animals and nature.
Expanding awareness among young people of new career possibilities was exciting for Ricky Satomi, UCCE forestry and natural resources advisor for Sutter and Yuba counties. Using interactive exercises (such as those developed by California Project Learning Tree, another UC ANR-affiliated program), Satomi shared his knowledge about resource competition, watershed filtration and fire behavior in forest ecosystems.
“It's always a pleasure to introduce students to the natural resources where they live,” Satomi said. “This is particularly critical given the current workforce shortage we face in forestry; I hope their experience at Ag-Venture will spark interest in future forestry careers, where these students can work to better their local forest communities.”
Young people from local colleges and universities also gained invaluable experience during the camp. Four students helped prepare the camp: Yasmeen Castro Guillen (Chico State), Alana Logie (Yuba College), Jayla Pollard (Folsom Lake College) and Adam Yandel (Chico State). Three more helped lead the camp as counselors: Hector Amezcua (Yuba College), Alyssa Nott (Butte College) and Jillian Ruiz (Chico State).
“They did such a fantastic job, mentoring the kids and serving as positive role models, and we have seen tremendous growth in all of them, too – in confidence, skills and knowledge,” said Brim-DeForest.
A true community effort
Barden emphasized that the sweeping scope and in-depth, intertwining lessons of the camp were only possible through broad support from the greater community. Brim-DeForest highlighted the partnership with Yuba City Unified School District, as well as with Sutter County. Camp HQ was in Ettl Hall, a Sutter County building; campers visited the Sutter County Museum; they also met Yuba-Sutter public health officer Dr. Phuong Luu.
Additional collaborators included Melissa Ussery, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC nutrition program supervisor; Rene McCrory, 4-H secretary; Johnny Yang, UC Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver program coordinator; Matt Rodriguez, 4-H youth development advisor; and Nicole Marshall-Wheeler, 4-H youth development advisor.
“Honestly, we could plan all of this, but without the community's support, our program never would have worked smoothly,” said Barden, who grew up in the small town of Sutter. “Having all of our guest speakers, having all the people who were willing to have up to 50 kids on their property – it just shows how much our community is about our youth.”
Brim-DeForest said Sandy Parker, the camp nurse, exemplifies that spirit. A UC Master Gardener and 4-H alumna and volunteer, Parker also invited the campers to her family ranch, where she introduced the children to her farm animals and Great Pyrenees guardian dog.
The campers certainly appreciated the generosity, teamwork and energy that went into Ag-Venture. Barden said that many of the participants originally had only signed up for one or two weeks – but loved the camp so much that they asked to register for more. And she added that the “vast majority” of them said they want Ag-Venture to come back and would attend in the future.
“Our youth are just so resilient and so willing to learn,” Barden said, reflecting on the camp overall. “Whereas adults, we're usually a little more timid at things, these kids just were willing to dive in, head first, and be in that moment and try to take away as much as they could from what they were offered there at camp.”/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Elizabeth Moon joined UC ANR on March 3 as director of workplace inclusion and belonging. She will be responsible for developing and implementing ANR's diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and programs for our community. This position, an inaugural appointment, will be an integral collaborative partner to the ANR DEI Advisory Council. Moon will partner with ANR administrative and academic units, affinity groups and other ANR constituents on engagement strategies.
Moon comes to ANR with years of experience in assessing and building inclusive relationships within communities. In her previous position as chief diversity officer at UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM), she created the Action for Diversity GSM Community Group for students, staff, alumni and business partners to explore and challenge each other to create a non-partisan conversation of learning on issues surrounding systemic and individual racism. She collaborated on the creation of the GSM DEI Strategic Vision and Goals and built bridges for a larger LGBTQ+ presence at GSM.
Moon has an M.A. in teaching English as a second language from California State University, Sacramento, a B.A. in anthropology from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and a National Association of Diversity in Higher Education Standards of Professional Practice Certificate. She is also an MBA Certified Coach.
Read more in Mike Hsu's A conversation with Elizabeth Moon.
Colleagues are invited to meet Moon at the DEI Alliance meeting at the ANR Statewide Conference on Monday, April 24, from 3:15-5 p.m. in Salon D at the DoubleTree in Fresno.
Moon is located in room 155 in the ANR building on 2nd Street in Davis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 883-1174.
Ahmed Kayad joined UC Cooperative Extension in January as an agricultural engineering advisor at the Intermountain Research and Extension Center.
He will address regional needs in relation to integrating and adapting new technologies related to mechanization, automation and precision agriculture into intermountain cropping systems. Kayad is eager to investigate differences in crop growth and development within agricultural fields in Modoc and Siskiyou counties using satellite, drone and ground sensors.
To help farmers make informed management decisions across their farming operations, one of Kayad's first objectives is to map fields for spatial and temporal yield variability to better understand management practices that increase crop production.
Prior to joining IREC, he was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Riverside. His recent research activities include monitoring crop yield through ground and remote sensing for alfalfa and corn, using drone images for weed detection in vegetable crops, and investigating the impact of digital solutions in agriculture. He worked as a service engineer at farm equipment manufacturer CLAAS in Egypt, specializing in hay balers and forage/grain combine harvesters. In 2020, he was a visiting doctoral researcher at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.
Kayad earned a Ph.D in digital agriculture from the University of Padua, Italy, studying corn yield mapping through ground and remote sensing techniques. He earned a bachelor's and master's in agricultural engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt and King Saud University, Saudi Arabia respectively.
Kayad is located at the Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake and can be reached at email@example.com and (530) 667-5117.
Eddie Tanner joined UC Cooperative Extension on Jan. 3 as a specialty crops and horticulture advisor serving Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
He will be supporting the region's vegetable, fruit, flower and nursery growers with research-based technical assistance, collaborating with community partners to increase access to locally produced foods, and supporting the UC Master Gardeners.
Tanner has been involved in agriculture in Humboldt County for over 20 years as a farmer and a farm and garden educator. He holds a B.S. in wildland soil science from Humboldt State University and an M.S. in agriculture from Washington State University.
Tanner is based in the Eureka office and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haris Gilani joined UC ANR on Jan. 9 as a UCCE biomass and bioenergy advisor serving Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
In this role, Gilani investigates opportunities and strategies for increasing the use of woody biomass through development of biofuels and bioenergy among other products. He will also work to enhance biomass management and natural resource manufacturing with strategies for reducing community risk from wildfires.
“I think the overarching aim is to develop sustainable markets for wood and biomass to support forest management and restoration activities across all forest lands in California,” Gilani said. “This will help achieve the state's climate change goals as well as promote long-term economic development and community resilience.”
Another important aspect of his role is communicating research-based information on efficacy of converting woody biomass into fuels for transportation and other products that are consistent with the state's Forest Carbon Plan, to the public, industry, government and relevant stakeholders.
Gilani earned a Ph.D. in forest products marketing from the University of British Columbia, Canada, a Master of Business Administration from Technical University Freiberg in Germany, and a bachelor's in mathematics and physics from the University of the Punjab in Pakistan.
Before joining UC ANR, Gilani worked at his alma matter in Canada as a postdoctoral fellow focusing on economic and market analysis of value-added wood products in BC. He also worked as an assistant project scientist at UC Berkeley researching biofuels, before he joined the State University of New York in Syracuse, where he developed a wood-based bioeconomy roadmap for NY State.
Gilani is based out of the UCCE Riverside County office in Palm Desert and can be reached at email@example.com.
Cassandra Nguyen joined UC Cooperative Extension on Jan. 3 as a specialist in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition.
Nguyen's long-term goal is to bridge the gap between "what we know" and "what we do" about food insecurity. Her research encompasses three areas of interest: revitalization of local food systems to increase diet quality and well-being among Native communities and families; integration of food insecurity screening into healthcare services to better address chronic diseases; and advancements in the charitable food system to increase equity and empowerment of clients.
Nguyen recently published a journal article on food bank strategies to promote nutrition and health.
She earned a Ph.D. in human nutrition and M.S. in nutritional sciences, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in dietetics from Central Washington University.
Nguyen is located in Meyer Hall at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-3817 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gwenaël Engelskirchen began as the new sustainable food and farming coordinator with the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program in January.
After serving as SAREP's sustainable supply chain coordinator since 2015, Engelskirchen said she is looking forward to her new role as an academic coordinator to support farmers and ranchers in adopting more sustainable agricultural practices while strengthening regional food systems.
“Leveraging SAREP's emphasis and expertise on sustainability from ‘farm to fork,' I hope to bring research and resources to meet the needs of diverse clientele groups across California,” Engelskirchen said.
Key audiences and partners include agricultural producers, regional distributors, food hubs, institutional and retail buyers, community organizations and agencies that address food, farming and natural resource issues. In her previous capacity with SAREP, Engelskirchen launched the California Food Hub Network, a statewide learning network for regional, values-based food distributors.
In addition to earning bachelor's degrees in international development and women's studies from UCLA and a master's in community development from UC Davis, Engelskirchen has worked on and managed organic farms, both urban and rural. She has designed and organized workshops, field walks, webinars and educational events and delivered direct technical assistance for farmers in California and Arizona.
“I am continually drawing inspiration from my colleagues, collaborators, community and the land,” she said.
Engelskirchen is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at email@example.com and (530) 792-8253.
Krystle Hickman has joined UC IPM as a senior producer-director based in Southern California.
The main focus of her work will be to take photos and videos of all pests such as insects, diseases, weeds and vertebrates, including the damage they cause. She will be updating and adding to the photos in the UC IPM photo database. She will be traveling up and down the state.
“We would like to invite advisors to reach out to Krystle if they would be willing to spend some time with her in the field to show her pests and damage in the crops that they work with,” said Cheryl Reynolds, UC IPM writer and interactive learning developer.
Hickman is a TEDx speaker, National Geographic Explorer, artist, community scientist and photographer based in Los Angeles. Her photography has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, books and scientific journals. A skilled photographer of California native bees, Hickman's work can be seen on her Instagram account @beesip.
Hickman works remotely from Southern California and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 231-1741.
Grace Dean joined UC ANR on Jan. 16 as a Forest Stewardship communications specialist and is based out of the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine.
Dean is responsible for identifying outreach opportunities to promote and increase audience engagement in Forest Stewardship Education workshops and programs. These initiatives engage forest landowners in creating management plans, connecting with natural resource professionals, and navigating cost-sharing programs. In this new role, she will create comprehensive media strategies that target landowners of all backgrounds and will continuously assess how these strategies can improve over time.
Dean recently earned a bachelor's degree in public affairs from UCLA with a focus in public policy, communications and environmental affairs. Previously, Dean interned for forestry-related organizations including the USDA Forest Service and TreePeople, a nonprofit organization that inspires individuals to take responsibility for the urban environment.
Dean is excited to learn more about forest management from her team and find creative avenues for information to reach new audiences. When she's not working, you can find her crocheting, volunteering at the local cat shelter, or tending to her succulents.
Dean is based out of the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine and can be reached at email@example.com.
Brad Hanson was selected as a Fellow of the Western Society of Weed Science at its 76th annual meeting held Feb. 27-March 3 in Boise, Idaho. The Fellow Award is the highest honor of the society and recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the society and to the discipline of weed science.
“Brad has a long record of serving the society in leadership roles and was previously recognized as WSWS Outstanding Early Career Weed Scientist in 2011,” wrote Carol Mallory-Smith, Oregon State University professor emeritus. “In addition to WSWS, he is active in the California Weed Science Society and the Weed Science Society of America.”
Hanson, who has been a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Davis since 2009, studies weeds in orchard and vineyard crops. He also provides weed science support for agronomic and horticultural crops and supervises the UC Davis IR-4 Field Research Center. From 2005 to 2009, he was a USDA-ARS research agronomist in Parlier, where he conducted research on soil fumigants and weed control in nursery crops.
“The committee recognized the productive career that Brad has had as a weed scientist,” Mallory-Smith wrote. “He has co-authored 92 peer-reviewed articles, 16 book chapters and extension publications, and more than 60 research papers presented at WSWS meetings. Brad and members of his lab delivered more than 500 extension presentations during his career at UC Davis. Brad is considered an excellent mentor for graduate students and young weed scientists.”
One letter of support for Hanson becoming a fellow noted that he is “committed to solving problems. He has the ability to blend curiosity-driven scientific advances with a problem-solving Extension mindset.
Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE director and rice advisor for Sutter and Yuba counties, received an Award of Excellence from the California Weed Science Society. She studies weeds in rice production systems.
California Weed Science Society gives Awards of Excellence to members who have made tremendous contributions to the society mission in the following areas: the information exchange through research, publications, facilitating cooperation among individuals, encouraging careers in weed science, and promoting professional growth of members. Two awards are given out annually to weed scientists or weed practitioners for an entire body of work, rather than a single achievement.
The award was presented by Anil Shrestha, CWSS past-president, at the California Weed Science Society's 75th meeting held Jan. 18-20 in Monterey
The women of Phi Mu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. have selected , director for UC Cooperative Extension in Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties, as a 2023 Woman of Distinction for her outstanding contributions and years of service to the Inland Empire community. Zeta is a historically African American sorority formed in 1920 for college-educated women.
Born and raised in Pomona, Clemons knows firsthand the challenges associated with growing up in an economically challenged city. Clemons became the first in her family to graduate from college, earning degrees in paralegal studies and business administration and a master's degree in management. She has spent her career sharing her personal and professional experiences to help others achieve their goals.
Her first committee appointment was for the Inland Empire United Way, Women United Committee as vice chair. Clemons was then appointed to the board of directors for Ontario Youth Activities League, where she serves as Vice President. She is a current member of the Women of Hope committee for the Hope Through Housing Foundation. She has been a member of San Bernardino County Preschool Services Policy Council, Inland Empire United Way Executive Advisory Council, San Bernardino County Superintendent's West End Advisory Council, Mexican Consulate Education Liaison, California League of High Schools Educator of the Year Committee, Riverside County Early Literacy Conference Planning Committee, active member of Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario and San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce. She was also selected as a Fellow for the Center for Civic Policy & Leadership Healing Communities Through Racial Justice.
Clemons received the award at the sorority's Finer Womanhood Celebration in San Bernardino on March 25.
The California State Water Resources Control Board has appointed Kristin Dobbin—assistant professor of Cooperative Extension in the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management—to the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group.
The SAFER Program is a set of tools, funding sources, and regulatory authorities designed to ensure all Californians are able to receive clean drinking water as quickly as possible. The program provides short-term fixes to address immediate public health needs while pursuing long-term solutions — ranging from water system upgrades to consolidation and regionalization — that make the state's water systems more sustainable and resilient.
Dobbin's research and outreach focus on water justice policy and planning, specifically the ongoing implementation of California's human right to water law AB 685. She will join members of the public and stakeholders from public water systems, technical assistance providers, local agencies, and nongovernmental organizations to advise the State Water Board as it advances the SAFER Program's goals.
The advisory group will meet up to four times a year across California to provide opportunities for public and community input.
For more information about the SAFER Program and advisory group, visit the State Water Board website.
- Author: Mike Hsu
UC researchers studying how practice can help farmers manage drought, pests, other challenges
Due to severe water shortages, rice acres planted in California plummeted by 37% from 2021 to 2022, according to numbers released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. But now, thanks to University of California researchers, growers have a new tool they could potentially use to cope with droughts and other environmental and socioeconomic changes.
A crop rotation calculator provides farmers in the Sacramento Valley – where 97% of California rice is grown – with projections on the economic impacts of transitioning their fields from rice into four less water-intensive crops: dry beans, safflower, sunflower or tomato.
The tool represents an initial attempt to address the dearth of research on rice crop rotation in California, while giving growers much-needed, science-backed data on whether the practice would make financial sense for their farms.
“I believe more rice growers could benefit from the many advantages of crop rotation, and this new tool is an excellent first step by the UC to help growers look into making such a transition,” said George Tibbitts, a Colusa County rice farmer.
Funded in part by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, through the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, the calculator is a collaborative effort of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, UC Integrated Pest Management and UC Davis to fill a major gap in rice research.
“I do think there are people who would have tried rotational crops in the past, but it's just so unknown, we didn't have anything we could give them and be like, ‘Hey, this is the recommended crop for your area,'” said Whitney Brim-DeForest, UC Cooperative Extension rice advisor. “This tool gives them some preliminary data they can use to make a more informed decision.”
Crop rotation a potential boon to growers, environment
UC Davis doctoral student Sara Rosenberg and Brim-DeForest, alongside other members of the UC rice research team, surveyed California rice growers in 2020 on their experiences with and perceptions of crop rotation. Although the practice is rare in the Sacramento Valley (only an estimated 10% of rice acreage is under rotation), some farmers reported benefits that could be crucial in a water-scarce future.
“From having conversations with growers who do rotate, one of the biggest benefits they describe is their flexibility in times of drought, where they can keep producing on their land when there isn't enough water to grow rice,” said Rosenberg, noting that crop rotation could be one option in a “toolbox” of strategies that growers also use to manage fertilizer price shocks, herbicide resistance and other challenges.
During the ongoing drought that caused about half of California's rice acreage to go fallow in 2022, Tibbitts said his water district was only able to allocate 10% of his usual allotment.
“With such a limited supply, it would have been tough to grow even one field of rice,” he said. “But it was enough water so that we could rent two of our fields to a tomato grower – tomatoes under drip irrigation use much less water than a flooded field of rice. We were also able to grow one field of sunflowers, which doesn't need any irrigation at all if you can plant the seeds into existing moisture in the early spring.”
While drought is one motivating factor to rotate crops, Tibbitts said that on principle he avoids planting all his acreage in rice and “not have all (his) eggs in one basket.”
“My primary motivation for rotating into and out of rice has been to help with weed and disease control,” he added. “Crop rotation is a primary tool of IPM (integrated pest management), and I feel it has helped me greatly over the years.”
According to Brim-DeForest, rotating cropping systems can allow for the use of different weed control tools, such as different herbicide modes of action, and different cultural controls such as tillage, reducing the chances of selecting for herbicide-resistant weeds – an increasingly pervasive issue in rice systems.
Rosenberg noted that, in some situations – and depending on the crops in rotation – the practice can also disrupt the life cycles of insects and diseases and potentially improve soil structure and increase nutrient cycling and uptake, which may lead to a reduction in inputs such as fertilizer.
More research on crop diversification needed in rice systems
The benefits of crop rotation for California rice growers are largely theoretical and anecdotal, however, so the UC rice team is looking to add evidence-based grounding through a variety of studies – from looking at long-term effects on soil health indicators to testing various cover crops (which may deliver some benefits of diversification, similar to those of rotation).
“In California, there is no quantitative data on crop rotation in rice,” said Brim-DeForest. “You'd think after a hundred and some odd years (of UC agricultural research), all the research would have been done, but, no – there's tons still to do.”
Through interviews with Sacramento Valley growers, researchers found that cost was frequently mentioned as a barrier to trying crop rotation, along with incompatible soil conditions and a lack of equipment, knowledge and experience.
To help clarify those economic uncertainties, the new calculator tool allows growers to enter baseline information specific to their circumstances – whether they rent or own their own land, whether they contract out the work to plant the rotational crop, and other factors. The calculator then generates potential costs and benefits of staying in rice versus rotating to dry beans, safflower, sunflower or tomato, during the first year and in an “average” year for those crops.
The upfront costs of rotation during “year one” can be daunting. Therefore, the tool only focuses on a short-term profitability perspective. Researchers are currently working on longer term modeling for crop rotation – incorporating the possibility of reduced herbicide use over time, and under different crop yield scenarios, for example – that could significantly change the growers' calculus.
“You could actually be profitable in the long term, whereas this first, short glimpse is showing you a negative,” said Rosenberg.
In addition, thanks to collaboration with the UC IPM team, the rice rotation calculator is an evolving tool that will be continually improved based on user feedback and additional data. Brim-DeForest also said that it could be adapted to other cropping systems – for example, alfalfa going into another rotational crop.
The rice calculator tool can be found at: https://rice-rotation-calculator.ipm.ucanr.edu/.
Other contributors to the project include Bruce Linquist, Luis Espino, Ellen Bruno, Kassim Al-Khatib and Michelle Leinfelder-Miles of UCCE; Cameron Pittelkow of UC Davis; as well as UC IPM team members Chinh Lam, Tunyalee Martin and Hanna Zorlu; and the California rice growers and industry members who participated in the research./h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Mohamed joins Kearney to research alfalfa irrigation
Abdelmoneim “Moneim” Mohamed joined UC ANR as project scientist – alfalfa irrigation management Feb. 1.
Mohamed will be working with Khaled Bali conducting research to identify the best irrigation management practices on alfalfa to enhance water use productivity while minimizing environmental impacts. The project focuses on crop growth and agronomic performance as affected by irrigation management, salinity and other factors.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Mohamed was an agricultural scientist for the Tropical Research and Education Center at the University of Florida. His previous work focused on modeling and optimizing the performance of moving sprinkler irrigation. He has also studied precision and automated irrigation.
After receiving his Ph.D. at Washington State University, Mohamed was an irrigation engineer for WSU Skagit County Extension Center working with extension agents and growers on improved irrigation practices, irrigation systems efficiency evaluation, and crop water use efficiency.
Mohamed earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from Zagazig University, Egypt, a master's degree in land and water resources management: irrigated agriculture from IAMB, Italy, and a doctorate in biological and agricultural engineering from Washington State University.
Mohamed is based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (509) 781-4129 and on Twitter @moneim_z.
Brim-DeForest receives outstanding paper award
The Weed Science Society of America honored Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE rice and wild rice advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer and Sacramento counties, with its award for Outstanding Paper: Weed Science.
The award-winning paper, Phenotypic Diversity of Weedy Rice (Oryza sativa f. spontanea) Biotypes Found in California and Implications for Management is co-authored by Elizabeth Karn, biologist in U.S. EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs and former ANR staff research associate; Teresa De Leon, Short Grains Rice Plant Breeder for the California Rice Experiment Station and former UC Davis postdoc research scholar; Luis Espino, UCCE rice farming systems advisor for Butte and Glenn counties and UCCE director for Butte County; and Kassim Al-Khatib, UC Davis Melvin D. Androus Endowed Professor for Weed Science and Director of the UC Weed Information Center.
Over the past four years, Brim-DeForest, who holds the UC ANR Presidential Endowed Fellowship in California Rice, has focused her research on weedy rice, an emerging and important pest in California rice systems. In a relatively short amount of time, she and her team have conducted extensive research on California weedy rice including its genetics, identification, competition with cultivars, emergence, herbicide susceptibility, and even drone mapping.
The award was presented during the organization's virtual annual meeting Feb. 15.
DPR honors Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team
In a ceremony on Feb. 18, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation presented a 2020 IPM Achievement Award to UC Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team – El Dorado County for their achievements in reducing risk from pesticide use.
The Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team, which includes industry and UC ANR members, is led by Lynn Wunderlich, UCCE farm advisor for the Central Sierra. The team aims to minimize the incidence of agricultural pesticide drift and reduce the risk of pesticide illness though training. The team developed an air blast sprayer calibration training program to increase pesticide applicators' adoption of best practices when using air blast sprayers. The training program is interactive and offers practical experience in key training topics.
“The highly effective training and the extensive outreach completed by the team make the Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team an excellent recipient of an IPM Achievement Award,” wrote the person nominating the team.
The Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team includes
- Wunderlich, UCCE farm advisor, Central Sierra
- Franz Niederholzer, co-principal investigator and farm advisor, UCCE Yuba, Sutter, Butte counties
- Maria Alfaro, community educator specialist, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Catherine Bilheimer, California Department of Pesticide Regulation grant manager
- Lisa Blecker, Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Stephanie Bolton, communications & sustainable winegrowing director, Lodi Winegrape Commission
- Matt Bozzo, chair, Yuba-Sutter Spray Safe; farm manager, Golden Gate Hop Ranch, Yuba City
- Luis Espino, UCCE rice farming systems advisor, Colusa, Glenn, Yolo counties
- Ken Giles, professor, UC Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department
- Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel, Washington State University regional extension specialist
- Petr Kosina, Content Development Supervisor, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Peter Larbi, UCCE spray application specialist, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
- Ray Lucas, former videographer UC ANR Communication Services
- Tunyalee Martin, associate director for communication, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Louie Mendoza, Butte County agricultural commissioner
- Cheryl Reynolds, instructional designer, UC Statewide IPM Program.
- John Roncoroni, UCCE weed science farm advisor emeritus, North Coast
- Marcie Skelton, Glenn County agricultural commissioner
- Rhonda Smith, UCCE viticulture advisor emeritus, Sonoma County.
- Matt Strmiska, former Adaptiv CEO.
- Emily Symmes, former Area IPM advisor, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter-Yuba, Tehama counties
Cheryl Wilen, emeritus IPM advisor, was a technical advisor to All Kids Academy Head Start, Inc. in San Diego County, which received an IPM Achievement Award for its exemplary pest management program at 14 child care centers. This nonprofit organization's IPM program focuses on strong communication, careful monitoring, and active prevention to manage pests. AKA Head Start, Inc. partners with experts to find the most effective, lower-risk options to protect children in its care from pests and pesticide risk.
“One thing that they did that influenced me to nominate them is that they not only did a lot of IPM policy and implementation work in the school, they also provide information and resources to the parents/guardians to extend IPM information for their homes as well,” wrote the person who nominated the project.
Moncloa to guide Maine 4-H through intercultural competence program
Fe Moncloa, UCCE 4-H youth development advisor in Santa Clara County, has been named the 2021 Visiting Libra Diversity Professor at the University of Maine from January through June.
Through a virtual appointment, Moncloa will guide University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development staff through the development and implementation of an intercultural competence professional development program. This project is part of a larger effort to increase the ability of University of Maine Cooperative Extension to foster inclusivity, diversity and access, particularly the statewide UMaine 4-H program. This project will serve as a template to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to other UMaine departments.
“In addition, my UMaine partners will lead four weekly Learning Circles to unpack intercultural communication,” Moncloa said. “I will teach an intercultural conflict styles workshop for all 4-H professionals in partnership with UMaine and will present a seminar to graduate students.”
Moncloa is on sabbatical through Sept. 30, 2021.
For the past several years, California rice has been dealing with a pesky new weed, weedy rice, aka “red” rice. Weedy rice is a difficult pest to manage, because it is the same species as rice (both are Oryza sativa L.), rendering herbicide use next-to-impossible. In the southern U.S, rice-growing region (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas), they utilize two rice varieties (in rotation) that have been conventionally bred to tolerate the use of two herbicides: Clearfield (imazamox) and Provisia (quizalofop). Since weedy rice is susceptible to these chemicals, the entire field can be sprayed with these herbicides: the rice varieties survive, and the weedy rice is controlled. In California, these varieties are not available, so rice scientists here have been working on registering and applying spot-spray herbicides (no herbicides are currently registered for spot-spraying weedy rice in California rice).
Most of the weedy rice in California is found in small patches, or as individual plants, sprinkled throughout fields. Using a hand-held spot sprayer to spray individual plants in large fields (200 acres or more) is a lot of work, and also involves having a trained applicator that can identify weedy rice in the field. Using a drone to spray the individual plants would be a lot more efficient. Dr. Ken Giles, professor emeritus at UC Davis, is currently working on the spray technology aspect, and has made progress in being able to spray individual plants in a rice field (Giles, 2017). In order for the spray drone to work, however, it needs a map to follow so it “knows” where to spray. That is where the second part of the research comes in - can we map weedy rice?
Is it possible?
Mapping weedy rice in the field involves having a camera attached to a drone that can “see” the weedy rice in the field, and differentiate it from all of the other plants found in the field, namely the rice variety, and the other weed species. When we first began this research, we had many doubts. Weedy rice and rice are the same exact species, after all, and it seemed unlikely that we could find a camera to that had this capability.
In 2018, we ran a preliminary drone flight in one field known to have weedy rice. We had two cameras, one a red-green-blue (RGB) camera, and one a multispectral (blue-green-red-red edge, and near infrared) camera. The positions of weedy rice and the rice variety were ground-truthed using a handheld GPS. When the data was analyzed, the weedy rice was not discernible from the rice in both the RGB and multispectral camera analysis.
In 2019, we ran two additional drone flights, this time angling the cameras at a 90-degree oblique angle, instead of straight down on the fields from above. We also ran an analysis using an Analytical Spectral Devices (ASD) hyperspectral electrospectrometer to collect spectral signatures from all of the plants in the greenhouse (weedy rice, rice and all major grass weed species). Unfortunately, once again, the results from the flights did not show discernable differences between the weedy rice and rice. The results from the ASD also showed small differences between the weedy rice, the rice variety and the weed species. However, the spectra the camera sees are currently not the ones where there are spectral differences between the plants.
So, is it possible to map weedy rice? It might be. Currently available cameras may not be able to “see” the spectral signatures of the plants. Sean Hogan, with the UCANR Informatics and GIS (IGIS) Statewide Program, will continue to analyze the 2019 data, and if it appears promising, we may fly again this year with a different camera. Look for an update in 2020!
This article was originally published in the UC Weed Science blog.