- Author: Brian Yudkin
For the 2019-2020 field season, we have made some adjustments to the Healthy Soils Demonstration Project at the Sierra Foothills Research and Extension Center (to read about the background of this project, click here) in response to a spontaneous grass fire in June 2019. This year, we have enlarged the scope of the project to include the interplay of post-fire recovery and compost amendments on rangeland management decisions.
In fall 2019, we split each of the original nine plots in half; one side received a new compost amendment, while the other side simply retained its (now-burned) base layer of compost that was applied in fall 2018. That means this year we are studying and gathering samples from 18 plots, keeping us quite busy. In late November/early December, when the first rains of the season arrived, we conducted a gas sampling campaign that spanned eight consecutive days to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from the site. During this time, soil microbial and plant communities became active after months of very dry conditions. Since that initial intensive campaign, we have returned once every two weeks to track greenhouse gas emissions trends throughout the changing seasons.
In January 2020, we installed new moisture and temperature sensors to maintain a continuous record of soil conditions in each plot. Despite an atypically dry February, the site is now green with flourishing grasses, and the growing season has only just gotten underway as warmer weather arrives. In addition to continuing to take samples for greenhouse gas concentrations, we also study the influence of compost amendments on soil nutrients and carbon and forage productivity and quality.
- Editor: Emily Baumstinger
- Author: Gregory Brian Pasternack
On February 9th, UC Davis Hydrology Professor Dr. Gregory Pasternack brought 13 lucky students from his Field Methods in Hydrology class to explore one of the watersheds here at Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center. In his 21st and likely final year teaching this course, Dr. Pasternack was kind enough to share some reflections with us below:
“I always run this class trip in February and usually the view of Deer Creek across the canyon is stunning. In the final section before it convenes with the Yuba River, Deer Creek plunges an amazing 400 feet vertical per mile. With a flow of a couple hundred cfs that we typically see in February, it's just a stunning view. I once tried to hike down into that section from Mooney Flat Road, but the bedrock is very smooth and the waterfalls too extreme, even when dry. It's a postcard-worthy view for sure.
The Schubert catchment is small yet still quite adventurous to university students. Some students come from urban regions with little outdoor experience, while others are avid outdoor adventurers yet have little practical experience with doing science in nature. The goal of experiential learning is to put students into new situations with one-on-one experiences with nature where they have to use their knowledge and experience to problem solve. Not only are students learning science, but they are learning how to work together in a team, and even how to dress effectively to do safe outdoor research. People might be surprised to hear that part of the course involves teaching about clothing, but the technology of textiles for outdoor work has improved so much and students have little exposure to thinking about safety from a clothing perspective.
Lectures are the most efficient way to inject the most amount of information into the human brain in the shortest amount of time. Unfortunately, people tend to not retain most of that information unless they perceive a critical need to know something at a given moment in time. With quick access to the internet, people are becoming less knowledgeable and more dependent on search. What a field trip like this does is provide motivation to learn and retain lecture knowledge, because it will be required to be safe and effective during the field trip as well as to complete the associated homework assignment. Down in the Schubert watershed, cell phones don't work, so you have to really know what you're doing and not rely on technology to tell you what to do.”
- Author: Emily Baumstinger
Love Nature? Enjoy working with youth K-5th Grade?
Have some time to spare this Spring & Fall?
Apply to Volunteer NOW as a Field Trip Aid for
SFREC's Field Science Days
- Training provided
- Flexible options for volunteer days
- Great networking opportunity
- Counts towards CA Naturalist Volunteer Hours
Contact our Environmental Science Educator
- Author: Holly Stover
- Editor: Emily Baumstinger
- Author: Emily Baumstinger
UC Sierra Foothill REC is hosting a community workshop & field demonstration event where The Silver Lab at UC Berkeley will discuss results from a long-term (10 year) compost addition trial on foothill rangeland and observed benefits for forage quality, quantity, and soil health characteristics.
At this event, researchers will also be spreading compost for a new project supported by the 2017 Healthy Soils Demonstration Project and funded by Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds and part of California Climate Investments.
- Demonstrate application of green waste and food waste compost
- Examine impacts of compost addition on forage production and quality
- Discuss how compost addition can improve rangeland soil properties
- Explore sourcing and applying compost at an operational scale
- Review cost/benefits and incentives
All are welcome to attend - Get more info by calling 530-639-8800 or emailing Jeremy James at email@example.com.
Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Time: 10am – 12pm
Location: 8279 Scott Forbes Rd. Browns Valley, CA