- (Focus Area) Environment
- Author: Dan Macon
Between PG&E's public safety power shutoffs and a lack of precipitation, October was an interesting month for foothill ranchers. Many areas received a germinating rainfall in mid-September; most of that new grass withered in an October that saw only 0.02 inches of rain in Auburn. And while many operations are used to having irrigation water turned off in mid-October, the lack of rain and multiple blackouts by PG&E made getting drinking water to livestock a challenge. Last week, I sent a survey to area ranchers to help get a handle on the impacts from the public safety power shutoffs. While I'm still collecting data (if you're a rancher and have not yet participated in the survey, click on this link: http://ucanr.edu/oct19livestockwatersurvey), I wanted to share some preliminary results.
To date, 39 people have completed the survey. Most respondents receive water from the Nevada Irrigation District; an equal number use groundwater. Many operations use water from more than one source. Most of the operations responding are in Placer County, although a number of operations raise livestock in more than one county. Of those responding, 41 percent purchase winter water from their water district(s).
Here are more details on the responses so far:
If you haven't yet participated in this survey, go to this link: http://ucanr.edu/oct19livestockwatersurvey/span>
Rivers are an important part of our communities. However, some agricultural practices can detrimentally affect river health and water quality. The University of California Cooperative Extension conducts research and extension to educate growers about science-based practices that can reduce the impacts of agriculture on river health. These practices include such things as nutrient management, integrated pest management and conservation grazing. At the same time, local communities may not be aware of the choices that growers make to protect the environment.
River Camp Firebaugh is a summer camp for first- through eighth-graders in western Fresno County, and is managed by the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust. We were invited to teach the campers about agricultural science and conservation practices. The camp directors wanted to connect agriculture with the river ecosystem because most of the campers are from families who work in agriculture.
We developed and taught 15-minute fun, hands-on lessons on three agricultural topics and related them back to river health:
- Beneficial insects for biological control of pests
- How differences in soil texture affect management
- Riparian area grazing and erosion risk
To accommodate the large camp size – approximately 60 campers – the campers divided into three groups and rotated through the stations for 15 minutes at a time. We started the event by providing a brief overview of the University of California system and the role of Cooperative Extension in their community.
This event provided young campers with a hands-on experience that exposed them to key agricultural practices and highlighted their relationship with the San Joaquin River. We communicated the importance of grazing management to reduce soil erosion, the relationship between soil composition and nutrient loss, and how biological control helps to reduce the need for pesticides.
The camp directors and sponsors who attended the lessons expressed interest in inviting us back to teach more lessons like this in the future, with the potential to have one or more lessons during every week of camp over a six-week period. With about 60 campers per week, these events could reach up to 350 or more children each summer.
Outreach at this camp contributes to improving youth scientific and agricultural literacy, especially for residents in the rural/agricultural communities of western Fresno County. In this way, we extend UC ANR's reach and improve equity, inclusion and diversity by educating a local community.
This was an opportunity for young people to engage with practicing scientists, hear about our activities and work in their community, and learn about career opportunities in agriculture beyond production. Public outreach activities like this are critical and provide an opportunity for UC ANR to strengthen extension partnerships as we highlight the linkages between agriculture, rural communities and natural resource stewardship.
In this case, "all systems are sweet."
The three-day certificate course covers "everything in the world of honey," says director Amina Harris. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the RMI Sensory Building.
Attendees will taste, discuss and analyze approximately 40 varieties of honey from across the globe to hearing the latest in bee sting allergy research, Harris says. "The focus is on tasting honey using both the well-known Italian method taught at the Registry of Experts in Bologna alongside our own UC Davis research tasting protocols and techniques."
Joyce Schlachter, director of Food Safety and Quality, Crockett Honey, Tempe, Arizona. She worked in the honey business for 12 years. She audits honey processing facilities in foreign countries, and works with U.S. authorities, including Customs and Border Patrol in identifying fraudulent honey shippers.
Amy Myrdal Miller, nutritionist and owner of Farmer's Daughter Consulting, Sacramento. She is an award-winning dietitian, farmer's daughter, public speaker, author, and president of Farmer's Daughter® Consulting, Inc., an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm.
Chef Mani Niall of Mani's Test Kitchen "Baker of the Stars." Niall is a professional baker and the author of two cookbooks, "Sweet and Natural Baking" and "Covered in Honey." Mani has traveled the U.S. and Japan, presenting varietal honey cooking demos for culinary students for the National Honey Board.
Orietta Gianjorio, member of the Italian Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey. She is a professional taster, sommelier, and international judge of wine, olive oil, chocolate and honey. She launched her career in sensory evaluation 18 years ago at the Italian Sommelier Association.
Among the other instructors:
- Suzanne Teuber, M.D., a UC Davis professor in the Department of Medicine, who focuses on allergies
- Hildegarde Heymann, a world-renowned professor of sensory science, will explain exactly how our sensory apparatus works. (See more)
The introductory course uses sensory evaluation tools and methods to educate participants in the nuances of varietal honey, Harris says. Students will learn about methods of evaluation, stands and quality in this certificate program. It's geared for anyone interested in learning how to critically taste and assess honey. Using standard sensory techniques, packers, chefs, beekeepers, writers, food manufacturers, honey aficionados will learn about the nuances of varietal honey.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty and director of the California Master Beekeeper Program, will provide an update on UC Davis bee research from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Friday. (See program)
A few openings remain. The fee is $799 for the three-day course.Contact Amina Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The next UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar will focus on just that.
Brock Harpur, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, Purdue University, will speak on "Beekeeping in the 21st Century: Can We Incorporate Genomics into Beekeeping?" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6 in 122 Briggs Hall.
Host is Santiago Ramirez, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences.
"Humans and honey bees (Apis mellifera) have a long history of interaction one that today has culminated in the multibillion dollar beekeeping industry," Harpur says in this abstract. "Our history with honey bees is signposted by innovation driven by beekeepers. Innovations such as moveable frames and instrumental insemination have transformed how beekeepers manage their colonies. The modern beekeeper is likely to find that the innovations of today will become industry-standard in the not-so-distant future."
In his seminar Harpur will demonstrate "how the study and application of genomics provide new tools to understand honey bees and new means to manage and conserve them. I will present two direct uses of genomic information in modern apiculture: stock identification and genetic association. First I will demonstrate that genomic information can be used to quantify the ancestry of honey bee populations around the world. I will demonstrate how genomic information can be used to robustly discriminate among genotypes and how this can be incorporated into management practices. Second, I demonstrate how genomic approaches can identify loci associated with industry-relevant traits and how these associations can be used in an industry context. These discoveries represent the first steps that the beekeeping industry has taken into the modern age of genomics."
Harpur joined Purdue University faculty in January 2019 after completing a National Science and Engineering Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Donnelley Centre, University of Toronto. He focuses his research on the evolution and genetics of honey bees.
"Brock has always been interested in insects and genetics, but after his first foray into beekeeping, he was hooked (stung, if you will)," according to the Purdue News Service. "Brock completed his Ph.D. on population genomics of honey bees at York University. He has established beekeeping programs in Northern Canada, worked with the City of Toronto to establish goals for pollinator health, and given public talks to dozens of local organizations. Brock was awarded the prestigious Julie Payette Research Scholarship from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the Entomological Society of Canada's President's Prize, and was an Elia Research Scholar during his time at York University. Brock and his wife Katey are new to the United States from Canada."
There was the bee family: the queen bee, the drone and the worker bee. That would be entomologist Leslie Saul-Gershenz and biologist Norman Gershenz, the husband-wife team behind SaveNature.Org, a non-profit Bay Area-based organization devoted to insects.
Leslie, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, is the associate director of research, Wild Energy Initiative, John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis. The worker bee? That would be their service dog. The "worker" bee, however,spent most of her time sleeping beneath a table while the queen bee and drone mingled in the hive of activity around them.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey wore his ghillie suit. Bohart associate Emma Cluff came dressed as "The Mad Hatter." Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, disguised herself as a monarch caterpillar.
One of the highlights was a parasitoid pinata crafted by doctoral student Charlotte Herbert Alberts and husband, insect enthusiast George Alberts. They drew inspiration from the party invitation of artist and entomology alumnus Nicole Tam.
Of her art, Tam said: "All good things come in groups of three like the heads of Kerberos. Also, I just really wanted to draw a three-headed wasp! The wasps I used for this art piece were from the genera Polistes, Synoeca, and Dolichovespula."
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. In addition, it maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects, tarantulas; and a year-around gift shop stocked with T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Director of the museum is Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis. The staff includes Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; and Jeff Smith, who curates the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) section.
The museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email@example.com.