- Author: Chris M. Webb
Dr. Sabrina Drill, our cross-county (LA & Ventura) Natural Resources Advisor has developed guidelines for creating and maintaining fire-safe, environmentally-friendly landscapes in the wildland-urban interface that minimize the use and spread of invasive plants.
The information available on the UCCE Los Angeles County website has the potential to reduce the chances your home will be damaged or destroyed by wildfire. By clicking on the “CLICK HERE to get a copy of the 2009 Ventura County SAFE Landscapes Calendar and Guidebook.” You will find great tips and practical measures to implement around your home that are parsed into small tasks to tackle on a monthly basis. Further links for additional information are available at the bottom of the page.
The Ventura County UCCE office has some copies left of the 2009 fire safe landscaping calendars if you would like a hard copy version. While the year is almost over, the calendar was designed to remove the part that will soon be outdated leaving the great suggestions and tips behind for future reference. Please contact our office if you would like a copy.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
Monique Myers, Ventura County UCCE’s Costal Community Development Advisor has some great information to help us conserve water and reduce the flow of pollutants all at the same time!
Myers writes this on our website, “Water is a valuable resource in Southern California. It is important that we capture rainwater and allow it to soak into the ground where it can water plants and replenish groundwater supplies. Rain that falls on hard surfaces, such as buildings and asphalt, picks up pollutants as it flows. This 'stormwater' is then directed to storm drains and ultimately ends up polluting our streams and oceans."
Individuals can help conserve water and prevent polluted stormwater runoff through wise gardening and land-use practices. Our website provides some useful tips for Southern California residents.
Some of the suggestions are for large projects, and while you might not be in a position to tackle those changes now, the information may be useful to you in the future or may be of benefit for a friend or neighbor. Many of the other ideas, such as composting and natural planting, can be incorporated easily as time and resources allow.
Please follow this link http://www-csgc.ucsd.edu/BOOKSTORE/greensheets.html to see them.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
California faces many complex challenges in the future. California must address these challenges to ensure a high quality of life, a healthy environment, and economic success for future generations.
The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resource ( UC ANR), a statewide network of UC researchers and educators dedicated to the creation, development, and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural, and human resources, recently released a Strategic Vision recognizing that California’s future depends on
- sustainable, nutritious, and safe food;
- clean, healthy, and sustainable places to live, work, and grow;
- resilient, biologically diverse, and healthy ecosystems;
- clean, secure, and sufficient supplies of water;
- cleaner and more secure energy;
- educated and engaged people; leaders prepared for and capable of making strategic decisions;
- innovative solutions and informed choices;
- economic opportunity and jobs.
The Strategic Vision identifies nine strategic initiatives as a start to address the challenges that face Californians. The following multidisciplinary, integrated initiatives represent the best opportunities for ANR’s considerable infrastructure and talent to seek new resources and new partnerships within and outside UC to find solutions for California.
The conceptual initiatives are:
1. Improve Water Quality, Quantity, and Security. Water is the life blood of California’s economy. As such, water supply and quality for agricultural, urban, and environmental systems is a critical issue facing the state over the next 20 years and beyond.
2. Enhance Competitive, Sustainable Food Systems. California agricultural competitiveness will depend upon adopting new scientific and technological innovations derived from new knowledge in agriculture and nutrition.
3. Increase Science Literacy in Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Nutrition. California is undergoing a remarkable social transformation driven by two forces that have shaped the state throughout history: dramatic demographic changes in the number, age, and diversity of the population and the impact of science and technology. Education will be a key contributor to the successful outcome of this transformation, providing the principal means of making informed decisions about complex issues.
4. Sustainable Natural Ecosystems. Population growth, coupled with climate and land use changes, are the most important issues that will affect California’s natural resources. Future urban and suburban growth is projected to shift more toward rangelands and forests.
5. Enhance the Health of Californians and California’s Agricultural Economy.
Improving the health of Californians, enhancing their quality of life, and reducing health care costs are critical to the future of California.
6. Healthy Families and Communities. The major challenge for our families, schools, and communities is to promote positive development of children, youth, and adults.
7. Ensure Safe and Secure Food Supplies. Food-borne illnesses affect one in four Americans annually, with higher rates in California. Food-borne illnesses place a burden on our health care system and reduce the productivity of our workforce. Food insecurity, which currently affects one in ten California households, places additional burdens on our health care system as poor nutrition is directly related to numerous human diseases and increased health care costs.
8. Manage Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases. Increases in the number and kinds of pests and diseases may negatively impact California agriculture, natural resources productivity, and ecosystem functions, affecting Californians’ quality of life.
9. Improve Energy Security and Green Technologies. California faces diminishing and more costly supplies of energy, which can be addressed in part by California’s vast agricultural and natural resource base.
The Ventura County UCCE office is already working on several of these initiatives that are within our area of expertise. Throughout the state, many other dedicated scientists, researchers, and program representatives are also working hard today for the future.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
We hear often of exotics pests and invasive species. We know that plants, pests and disease can spread in many ways. We also know new problems arrive regularly – seemingly with increasing speed.
In the Ventura County UCCE office people often show up with samples of soil, plants, and insects. We would like to take this opportunity to remind people that moving these, and related items, across geographical borders (countries, states and counties) often require permits. Permits may even be required when working with government agencies. Not obtaining a permit when required can lead to unpleasant consequences including: regulatory action, fines, or loss of research funding.
To help protect yourself and reduce the spread of exotic and invasive species, please do not move samples across geographical borders without checking if a permit is required. UC ANR Safety Note #146, “Quarantined and Regulated Pest Permit Requirements” can help. It can be found at http://groups.ucanr.org/ehs/files/68310.pdf.
Other UC ANR safety topics can be found at http://groups.ucanr.org/ehs/Safety_Notes/.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
To protect water resources and comply with increasing regulation, greenhouse managers are wise to make changes to prevent pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and container media from ending up in surface and ground waters. One way to do this is to use vegetated buffers.
Vegetated buffers are areas or strips of land maintained in permanent vegetation to prevent erosion and improve water quality by trapping and treating contaminants. Vegetative buffers can also provide many other benefits such as increasing beneficial insects for biological control of crop pests and protecting streambanks. In addition, they can be used for green waste and secondary crop production.
Some examples include vegetated buffers are bioswales, vegetated filter strips, and constructed wetlands.
- A vegetated bioswale is a stormwater conveyance system that channels stormwater. This type of buffer system improves water quality by reducing flow velocity and increasing sedimentation, filtering pollutants, and allowing infiltration into the underlying soils.
- A filter strip is a band of vegetation that can be used between a greenhouse and a waterbody. The purpose of the filter strip is to slow runoff from the production area and trap sediment, fertilizers, and pesticides before they reach surface water.
- A constructed wetland is an artificial marsh or swamp for treating wastewater, controlling flood waters, and reducing erosion. In greenhouse production, they can be built to further remove pollutants in the effluent from a retention basin.
Although there are different types of vegetative buffer systems, most work in a similar manner. Runoff containing soluble nutrients and pesticides, and sediments with adsorbed pesticides, enters the buffer. Vegetation in the buffer slow surface flow and sediments drop out. Some water infiltrates into the root zone and subsoil, while the remainder becomes lateral subsurface flow. When the roots of buffer plants grow to sufficient depth, they intercept infiltrated water, taking up the soluble nutrients and pesticides. Pesticides adsorbed to soil particles become trapped in the root zone, and high soil organic matter provides conditions for denitrification and pesticide degradation.
Things to consider before constructing a vegetative buffer.
When planning and designing a vegetative buffer, it is best to consult a licensed engineer or the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Buffers need to be designed and constructed to comply with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
Plant species that are used in buffers should be selected based on their adaptability and tolerance to site conditions. Check local information sources, such as the NRCS and Cooperative Extension, before making selections. Some points to consider are: cost, growth rate, potential of plant invasiveness if not using native plant species, and the ability to use the buffers for producing secondary crops. Growers who are interested in developing techniques to produce secondary crops in vegetative treatment systems should contact Cooperative Extension and the NRCS for guidance.
Planting should be timed so buffers are established prior to expected runoff. Maintenance of vegetative buffers is necessary to sustain buffer function and effectiveness.
The information above was extracted from a larger document, written by Ventura County Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Julie Newman. Please contact us if you would like to read the original document in its entirety.