- Author: Jeremy James
- Contributor: Maddison Easley
On November 5th, 2013, SFREC will bring together UC researchers, land managers, producers and conservation professionals from across the state to explore some of the latest research findings and management strategies on two of the most serious rangeland weeds, medusahead and barb goatgrass. Estimates indicted these invasive species may decrease forage quality and production by up to 70 percent. Additionally, these plants increase the incidence of eye problems, such as pink eye in beef cattle. Intermountain species like medusahead create significant fuel accumulation - increasing the frequency of dangerous wildfires that destroy both livestock feed and critical wildlife habitat.
- Author: Maddison Easley
Small black dots can be seen from afar amidst the Lower Ranch fields at the Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center. Upon closer inspection, those spots morph into fuzzy, knob-kneed, curious little calves that are sure to insight many cries of “Awwwwe!” from visitors.
However, to a seasoned rancher those cute calves are a testament to the worthwhile blood, sweat, and tears that were shed leading up to a successful delivery. A healthy calf is the ultimate goal of any cow-calf manager, but once those critters finally do take their first breaths, the work has just begun…again.
In the Sierra Foothills, healthy calves signify a greater achievement - the triumph over a bacterial disease called epizootic bovine abortion (EBA). Extensive research has been conducted on this economically devastating problem, with annual losses in the range of 45,000 to 90,000 calves in the state of California alone.
EBA is commonly termed “foothill abortion” due to the regional outbreaks affecting only foothill, semi-arid and mountainous ranges of California, parts of Nevada, and southern Oregon. Through studies and research efforts by scientists associated with UC Davis, known information and management strategies have made slow, yet very significant progress since the recognition of EBA in the 1960's. For example, the culprit of EBA has been identified as the soft-shelled tick Ornithodoros coriaceus – explaining the climatic limitations of the disease so far.
Faculty and site conditions at SFREC have provided the ideal atmosphere for useful data collection. Staff Research Associate Nikolai Schweitzer is charged with the task of checking the irrigated fields daily for signs of aborted fetuses.
“It's important to be highly aware and check the fields at least twice a day. The scavengers in this area move in quickly!” said Schweitzer.
All aborted fetuses are transported to UC Davis for additional lab tests to accurately determine if EBA was the cause of death. Infected cows do not show signs of the disease during pregnancy because the bacteria is transmitted to the immature fetus where it proliferates and results in a late-term abortion.
Fortunately, the outlook for the candidate vaccine is very promising. The release of an effective EBA vaccine in the future will save ranchers countless hours of disappointment and headaches, while beefing up their worn wallets! This will be another significant feat for the cattle industry, SFREC, UCANR, and animal scientists in the West.
- Author: Maddison Easley
Indicative advancements have already been made with the documentation of healthy spawning occurring over the past several years. In the coming months, the Yuba - along with rivers statewide - will be shining as resolute salmon and trout make their way “home”. While the inborn instincts push the anadromous fish up the rivers, efforts on behalf of researchers and managers help enable the successful regeneration of these vulnerable species.
- Author: Maddison Easley
In a nutshell, SFREC aims to bring together past, present, and future agriculturists and conservationists in the region who have an interest in discussing the opportunities and challenges associated with farming and ranching in this area and where the industry is headed in the coming years. The intended outcomes include:
- A compelling contribution to the existing extension efforts to create connections and interest in agriculture
- A tool to promote and enable the transfer of knowledge and skills from seasoned professionals to those entering and planning a career pathway in farming and ranching
- An enhanced awareness of the role of local agriculture in a broader sense
The involvement of youth is a central component of the forum. Through collaboration with farmers, ranchers, and agency representatives, high-school aged students from adjacent counties will learn and share information about specific topics under the theme of “The Future of Farming and Ranching in the Sierra Foothills”.
“As a retired ag teacher, I have seen the struggle that students experience between simply having the desire to go into farming or ranching, and grasping the realistic details involved with that livelihood. Working with local producers who have the first-hand experience and know-how will be a great learning opportunity for our future agriculturists,” said Karen Henderson, advisory committee member and Live Wire Products representative.
Be on the lookout for more information and marketing flyers for this inaugural event at the Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center.
Excitement is rising amongst rangeland weed managers, researchers, and conservationists as the date approaches for a forum on The Ecology and Management of Medusahead and Barb Goatgrass. Next Tuesday, November 5th, professionals across California and beyond will unite at the Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center under a common interest with these rangeland invasive species.
The agenda with information on the specific topics and knowledgeable speakers is available. Staff and researchers associated with UCANR and UCCE will be speaking alongside other various professionals to discuss important topics. Seed dispersal, community dynamics, grazing, prevention, and NRCS programs available are a few of the targeted concepts that will be covered regarding medusahead and barb goatgrass invasions. Field visits and a free lunch are additional compelling components of the day.
Around 100 people are expected to attend. Jeremy James, Director of the Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center, and Elise Gornish, UC Davis Plant Sciences Postdoc, among others, have been focusing their efforts on planning and organizing this regional educational effort.