Growers are said to be one of the most surveyed groups in the US. This is understandable as only around 2% of Americans work in agriculture and there is an intrinsic lack of understanding of what is needed to help growers develop their operations. I frequently hear growers express concerns about issues that need to be addressed, whether those stem from government agencies, local weather patterns, or regional markets. However, quantifying the significance of these issues without data can be challenging.
Surveys conducted by Cooperative Extension and local organizations give growers a voice and serve as the first step in collaboration between growers and researchers in addressing the issues at hand.
If you have found yourself losing sleep over labor concerns, new farming techniques, goose damage to crops, or navigating climate programs, take a moment to let us know your thoughts via these surveys. Your insight is extremely valuable, and these surveys are linked directly to local ag-related organizations working in your area.
Note: I acknowledge that this is a busy time for growers. To streamline the process, I've consolidated multiple surveys into this post, which you can revisit when you schedule suits you.
Grower/ Labor Contractor Training Needs for Agricultural Workers
I frequently hear growers express frustration with labor availability and a lack of worker training for things like irrigation, management skills, digital literacy, or language communication skills. One of the ways UC Cooperative Extension and Center for Land Based Learning can help is to find out what type of training (hard skills or soft skills) is needed. This can help us develop curriculum to build the capacity of the existing workforce. This improves grower confidence in their employees and helps farmworkers maintain more steady employment. Don't forget to click “submit” at the end of the survey to ensure your responses are recorded.
Trainees identifying vineyard insects, photo: Jack K. Clark
Click here to start the Grower/ Labor Contractor Training Needs Assessment Survey
Cover Crop Barriers and Motivations
It seems that the State is very excited about encouraging things like composting and cover crops, but what is stopping the widespread adoption of these practices, what are some of the challenges? What are some of the motivations? I hear plenty of ideas from speaking to growers, and now we need to quantify what's being said to take it back to folks at CDFA, the State legislative branches, and other researchers. This survey breaks down barriers and motivations for cover cropping specifically. If you've got opinions, I want to know them.
Yellow Mustard Cover Crop in Vineyard Jack K. Clark
Click here to start the Cover Crop Barriers and Motivations Survey
Goose Damage in Crops
A hot topic this winter was frustration with the extent of the goose damage around the Valley. Even shooting them out the sky seemed to offer little respite. On the other hand, some of the fields were able to recover after the flocks had moved on. Knowing how much damage was actually done and the extent of the damage will help highlight the severity of the situation. The more data we have from growers, the better we will be able to respond and pass the messages up the chain.
Snow Geese in Winter, Photo: Jack K. Clark
Click here to start the Goose Damage in Crops Survey
Yolo County Climate Action Plan – Working Lands
Mulching in row crops, photo Evett Kilmartin
Yolo County is in the process of trying to get a better understanding of what practices grower are implementing and which ones they aren't and why. This survey examines other types of sustainability practices such as no-till, deficit irrigation, and manure applications in the county and will be used to help the county prioritize its funding, research, and outreach programs in the years to come.
Click here to start the Working Lands Survey