- Author: Daniel H Putnam
After many years of searching for ways to support research, the fledgling California Alfalfa & Forage Research Foundation has taken modest but important steps towards supporting alfalfa research projects, starting with issues associated with weeds.
“After looking at the proposals, it made sense to us to focus on one area – weeds – which was a determining factor in our reluctant decision not to fund equally deserving projects focusing on other areas” said Philip Bowles (of Bowles Farming and Foundation Chairman).
Alfalfa is the third most valuable crop in the US, and second in acreage only to almonds in California. However, industry funding for alfalfa research has been difficult over the years. This is due largely to the dispersed marketing of the crop, and difficulty in collecting funds for research.
However, this has changed, albeit in a modest way. In September of 2015, California Alfalfa & Forage Research Foundation (CAFRF) was formed as a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation to do just that. This Foundation is a foundation run BY and FOR alfalfa and forage growers, with a grower board. Donations to the California Alfalfa and Research Foundation are tax deductible. Since that time, they have grown slowly and developed an amount sufficient to get started.
"We do not intent to have a “theme” every year, but we will always favor proposals that address issues that growers face", Bowles added.
Alfalfa research such as this variety trial in Tulelake in 2018 benefits farmers and industry members. The first research projects funded by growers are a series of weed management trials for 2018-19.
A modest Beginning: “We are extremely grateful to growers and other entities for their generous support of the Foundation since its inception." said Jane Townsend, Executive Director of the Foundation. "Although our goal is to reach a financial threshold where we can fund more projects in greater amounts, the board felt it was important to begin funding a few small projects at this early stage to demonstrate our commitment to support this important research”
In April of this year, the Foundation circulated a request for proposals to researchers in the California university systems. Interested parties were asked to submit proposals for consideration that would support research activities that are of vital interest and direct benefit to California alfalfa and forage growers.
In 2018, nine proposals were received and reviewed by the Foundation board of directors, and they decided to fund three.
“As our funds grow, we look forward to supporting more projects of the many researchers whose work will directly benefit alfalfa and forage growers in the state.”
EVALUATION OF WEED MANAGEMENT IN CONVENTIONAL SEEDLING ALFALFA submitted by Mariano Galla, UCCE Agronomy & Weed Science, Butte and Tehama Counties. Summary: Because alfalfa is grown across a variety of environment within the state, concurrent trials will be conducted in the low desert, the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, and the Intermountain area to generate up-to-date performance data specific to major growing areas.
EVALUATION OF WEED MANAGEMENT IN ESTABLISHED ALFALFA submitted by Thomas Getts, UCCE Weed Ecology and Cropping Systems Advisor - Lassen, Modoc, Plumas and Sierra Counties. Summary: Weed control in alfalfa is imperative to economical production. The objective of the study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of herbicides for weed management in established alfalfa fields. Weeds in established crops lower quality and yield.
REDUCING WEED PRESSURE DURING STAND ESTABLISHMENT USING PRE-PLANT WEED GERMINATION FOLLOWED BY MECHANICAL OR CHEMICAL CONTROL submitted by Sarah Light, UCCE Agronomy Advisor, Sutter, Yuba and Colusa Counties. Summary: This project will evaluate the use of a sterile seed bed, followed by either mechanical or chemical control, to reduce weed pressure during alfalfa establishment in the region. This will enable farmers to make informed management decisions on their farms.
For those who have worked tirelessly in the forage area, this is welcome news!
About California Alfalfa and Forage Research Foundation:
For more information on the Foundation, please visit their website: www.alfalfafoundation.org
Donations to the California Alfalfa & Forage Research Foundation are tax deductible.