Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

News Feed

New California Waterfowl Tracker website launched to help poultry producers assess bird flu risk

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Circles on the California Waterfowl Tracker map shows where waterfowl are feeding and roosting. Red indicates a high density of birds, orange is medium density and yellow is low density.

To reduce potential exposure to avian influenza, a new interactive website is now available to help California poultry producers, backyard poultry enthusiasts, regulators and risk managers assess the locations of waterfowl relative to poultry farms in the Central Valley.

While not all waterfowl carry avian influenza, the migratory birds are the primary reservoir of the virus that kills chickens, turkeys and other birds and can take an economic toll on the poultry industry. During an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza in 2014-15, nearly 50 million birds had to be killed to contain the disease in the United States.

“Avian influenza is such a devastating disease, in an abundance of caution, we want to limit any interaction between waterfowl and domestic poultry,” said Maurice Pitesky, UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist.

The California Waterfowl Tracker has been developed by Pitesky at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, the University of Delaware, U.S. Geological Survey and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to show where waterfowl are.

From September through March, geese, ducks and other waterfowl migrate by the millions via the Pacific Flyway and winter in California wetlands, rice and corn fields. At the height of migration, the Central Valley is home to 3 million waterfowl.

Migrating waterfowl stop at Yolo Bypass. UC Davis research has shown that 5 percent to 20 percent of waterfowl carry avian influenza.

The Central Valley is also home to the majority of the state's commercial egg-laying hens, broiler chickens and turkey flocks.

Using the web app to understand when and where waterfowl are feeding and roosting, poultry farm managers and other stakeholders will be able to consider waterfowl in their decision making. They may decide to place pasture-raised poultry in a region of the state that has less wetlands, such as Fresno. If a large number of Canada geese take up residence nearby, poultry owners may decide to move their domestic birds indoors to reduce their exposure until the migrating waterfowl move on.

Using a machine-learning approach developed by Jeff Buler, University of Delaware wildlife ecology professor, the web app produces a waterfowl density map of California's Central Valley that is automatically updated daily with both satellite and weather station information.

“The model doesn't tell us whether waterfowl are carrying avian influenza, but it helps poultry producers and regulators understand where those interfaces could happen,” Pitesky said.

By law, organic and cage-free production must give birds access to the outdoors. While they are outdoors, poultry are at a higher risk of exposure to diseases carried by wild birds.

Additional waterfowl habitat and next-generation radar analysis of waterfowl are integrated into the web app. Users can search one or more addresses to anticipate their farms' interaction with waterfowl. Based on the proximity of waterfowl and wild bird monitoring information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, poultry owners can make biosecurity decisions.

“While the current version of the website is designed for California, the long-term goal is to develop and expand this system for the continental U.S. to promote health and safety of poultry flocks nationally,” Pitesky said.

To use the California Waterfowl Tracker, visit the UC Cooperative Extension Poultry website http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry. A video of Pitesky demonstrating how to use the web app can be viewed at https://youtu.be/EOO0Q_ggZ9I.

Poultry producers who would like to be notified by UC Cooperative Extension if there is an avian influenza outbreak in their area can sign up on the California Poultry Census page at http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry/California_Poultry_Census.

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2018 at 9:05 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

UC scientists offer “hot topic” exhibits and displays for farm community at World Ag Expo 2018

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Focusing on current “hot topics” in farming and agriculture, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources academics will offer nonstop displays and demonstrations in its own tent at the World Ag Expo, Feb. 13-15. The public and the press are invited to stop by anytime to meet the scientists and learn about a few of UC ANR's many agricultural research and extension programs in California.

The tent is in space I-37, on I Street, just west of Pavilion A.

Following is the schedule:

Tuesday, Feb. 13
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Drones in Agriculture
Join us for a demo (no flights) of the hardware components and software used for drone mapping and a brief discussion of related regulations. (Available through Thursday!)
Sean Hogan, UC ANR IGIS Statewide Program
Andy Lyons, UC ANR IGIS Statewide Program

University and Community College Collaboration in Technology
Learn about the role of community colleges working with universities that span the continuum of education in agriculture.
Gabe Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer
Jeff Dahlberg, UCCE specialist and director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
Tim Ellsworth, West Hills Community College Farm of the Future
Terry Brase, West Hills Community College Farm of the Future

UC Cooperative Extension Historical Archive
Learn about UC Merced Library's efforts to preserve, organize, and provide online access to records of enduring value on California agriculture.
Emily Lin, UC Merced Digital curation and scholarship
Lisa Vallen, UCCE archivist

Virtual Orchards
See a three-dimensional reconstruction of an orchard created by a photogrammetry technique and learn about Virtual Orchard applications
Ali Pourreza, UCCE specialist in ag engineering

Tuesday, Feb. 13
12:30 to 5 p.m.

Biosecurity in Animal Science and 4-H Project Curriculum
Learn more about this project and curriculum (available for free download), which can be used in 4-H animal science projects to teach about how easily disease is spread between species.
Martin Smith, UCCE youth science literacy specialist, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine
DeAnn Tenhunfeld, 4-H State Office

Improving the Efficiency of Flood Irrigation in California Through Automation
Learn about increasing irrigation efficiency and reducing the cost of labor and water to growers.
Khaled Bali, UCCE irrigation specialist
Peter Moller, Rubicon Water
John Krukar, Rubicon Water

Citrus variety display
Greg Douhan, UCCE citrus advisor, Tulare and Fresno counties

Wednesday, Feb. 14
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Long View: How conservation agriculture may help us prepare for food production for generations to come
Conservation agriculture contributes to more vibrant farm economies, greater production efficiencies, environmental benefits and farm water use efficiency.
Brenna Aegerter, UCCE vegetable crops advisor in San Joaquin County
Jessica Chiarta, UC ANR Communications Services

Providing Sustainable Farming Solutions
Learn how the strawberry and vegetable research and extension program is helping growers to produce with less water and chemical pesticides.
Surendra Dara, UCCE strawberry and vegetable crops advisor in San Luis Obispo County

Small Farm Innovation
View samples of value- added products developed from small farms, including moringa powder produced by local growers. See a showcase of Southeast Asian vegetables in season.
Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UCEE small farms advisor, Fresno and Tulare counties
Michael Yang, UCCE small farms ag assistant
Lorena Ramos, UCCE Fresno small farms

Wednesday, Feb. 14
12:30 to 5 p.m.

Moisture Sensors, Vineyard Management and Precision Irrigation
Learn about using the latest technology in collecting soil moisture information for irrigation scheduling to improve crop water use efficiency and crop quality.
Khaled Bali, UC irrigation management specialist, UC Kearney Research and Extension Center
Reinier van der Lee, Founder and CEO, Vinduino

Reintroducing an Old Crop to California—Sorghum!
Learn about this drought-tolerant crop used for animal feed, renewable fuel production, and gluten-free flour and grain for human consumption.
Jeff Dahlberg, UCCE specialist and director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Nutrition Programs
Learn about UC Cooperative Extension nutrition education programs, which are focused on improving knowledge, skills, attitudes and behavior to support healthy eating and physical activity.
UCCE Tulare County nutrition staff

Thursday, Feb. 15
9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Asian Citrus Psyllid Management (ACP)
Learn about the Asian citrus psyllid, the insect that transmits the bacterial disease that is threatening California citrus.
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UCCE entomology specialist and director of the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center
Craig Kallsen, UCCE citrus advisor, Kern County

Pest Management Resources from UC IPM
Learn about publications, online tools, courses, and other resources to help you manage pests!
Stephanie Parreira, writer/editor, UC IPM Program

Plant-Parasitic Nematodes in Agriculture
Learn how to recognize their symptoms and how they cause damage.
Andreas Westphal, UCCE nematology specialist
Zin Maung, staff research associate

The Science Behind Caring for Cows
See what tools we are using to identify sick cows and how we check the quality of cows' food.
Noelia Silva-del-Rio, UCCE specialist, Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, Tulare

Does your Spray Stray?
Check out this demonstration using color-changing cards to see where spray droplets are landing and then view easy modifications to reduce drift. Plant-Parasitic Nematodes in Agriculture Learn how to recognize their symptoms and how they cause damage.
Cheryl Wilen, UCCE IPM advisor, San Diego County

Posted on Friday, February 9, 2018 at 1:10 PM
Tags: World Ag Expo (1)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

California Plant and Soil Conference convenes in Fresno Feb. 6-7

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The state's top agricultural scientists will gather in downtown Fresno Feb. 6-7 for the American Society of Agronomy, California Chapter, 2018 California Plant and Soil Conference.

The conference comes at a key time for the California farmers and allied industries.

“There has been a flurry of new state regulation in recent years that the industry must contend with, increasing the needs for grower certification and training,” said Dan Munk, irrigation and soils advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County. “Never before has grower education and training been more critical for irrigated agriculture in the state.”

The conference will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel & Fresno Convention Center, 2233 Ventura St.

At 9:30 a.m. Feb. 6, California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross opens the event by providing her thoughts on how California agriculture can move forward given recent droughts, floods and increased environmental restrictions as well as increased grower reporting, certification and compliance requirements.

Following Ross's remarks, three speakers will discuss timely topics at the intersection of water and nutrient management. The speakers are:

Patrick Brown, UC Davis
Topic: Barriers to the adoption of recommended nutrient and water management practices

Sarah Beganska, UC Santa Cruz
Topic: Addressing groundwater recharge with an eye to water quality

Tim Hartz, UC Davis
Topic: Irrigation effects on nitrogen efficiency

The remainder of the two-day conference contains 12 sessions, presented by scientists from the University of California, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno State, Oregon State, NASA, USDA and industry. Session presentations are slated to cover nutrient management, emerging technologies for improved crop management, pest management, site-specific management, soil biology and soil health, sustainable use of water, applied crop management and managing farm energy.

More information and the complete agenda are available on the conference website, http://calasa.ucdavis.edu/

'Never before has grower education and training been more critical for irrigated agriculture in the state,' said Dan Munk, UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and soils advisor in Fresno County.
Posted on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 9:42 AM
Tags: Dan Munk (2), Soil (2), water (16)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Register today: 37th Rice Technical Working Group Conference, Feb. 19-22

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is hosting a four-day Rice Technical Working Group Conference February 19-22 in Long Beach. The conference will provide participants with the latest information and research from experts on plant breeding and genetics, rice culture, weed control, economics and marketing, and many other topics

“California is very excited to host the 2018 RTWG (Rice Technical Working Group) conference, which brings together over 300 researchers from all over the U.S. and the world to discuss the latest developments in rice research,” said Bruce Linquist, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and conference chair.

Keynote presenters are Ken Cassman, emeritus professor of agronomy at the University of Nebraska; John Eadie, professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at UC Davis; and Susan McCouch, professor of plant breeding and genetics, plant biology, biological statistics and computational biology at Cornell University.

The conference will be at the Westin Long Beach, 333 East Ocean Blvd. Registration is $475; $300 for students. Registration includes conference attendance, the welcome reception, the industry luncheon, the awards luncheons, and technical sessions. Current registration prices valid until the day of the conference. Register at http://ucanr.edu/sites/2018RTWG/Registration/.

California Department of Pesticide Regulation credits are pending.

Visit our website to see the latest information and to view the full conference agenda http://ucanr.edu/sites/2018RTWG/.  

For more information, contact Lauren McNees at (530) 750-1257 or anrprogramsupport@ucanr.edu.

Rice variety trials at the Rice Research Station in Biggs, Calif. (Photo: Evett Kilmartin)
Rice variety trials at the Rice Research Station in Biggs, Calif. (Photo: Evett Kilmartin)

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 1:25 PM
Tags: Rice (6)

Federal grant to fund preservation of UCCE history

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An ongoing effort to collect, digitally preserve and share 100 years of historical records by the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has earned the UC Merced Library a more than $300,000 grant.

“We're extremely proud to be able to further the work already begun on the UCCE project,” UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Our library is producing a collection that demonstrates the organization's lasting effects on the state, the work it has done in the past and its potential for the future.”

The work is especially relevant to the San Joaquin Valley, said Emily Lin, the UC Merced Library's Head of Digital Curation and Scholarship.

“We have a lot of archives and historic records based around urban centers, but we haven't been collecting the records of rural California in any systematic way,” she said. “But rural California has had an incredible influence on the state's history. California was transformed by agriculture over the past century.”

A four-year pilot archive project begun after the UCCE centennial in 2014.

The Archivist of the United States approved the $308,900 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for “A Century of Impact: Documenting the Work of the Cooperative Extension in California's Counties.” The three-year project will begin in the summer, after Lin and others hire a group of undergraduate students to help with the work. Additionally, the project will be part of an informational booth at the World Ag Expo in February in Tulare — UC Merced's first appearance at the exposition, which draws more than 100,000 people from all over the world.

“We were convinced the history of Cooperative Extension in California was worthy of preserving when we launched the pilot project four years ago,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the organization that oversees UCCE. “The federal grant to continue this work confirms the value of UCCE history and its contribution to California's prosperity.”

A pilot project, begun after the 2014 centennial of the UCCE, looked at Merced, Ventura and Humboldt counties' UCCE records, and produced a stack of material 70 linear feet long — just for Merced County. A banker box is about 1 linear foot.

Records from Humboldt County included disaster responses from the 1955 and 1964 historic floods, while Merced County's records were mainly about crops, irrigation, the beginnings of the Merced Irrigation District and 4-H. Each county's records provide insight into its unique characteristics, Lin said.

The new project will collect 100 years' worth of reports and historic photographs from 20 California counties — in the Valley, along the coast, up north at the edges of the Sierra and along the southern border — and will geocode all the records.

Part of the archive collection, a vintage photo of a UCCE Merced County vehicle.

“This project is of great potential value in supporting a number of lines of existing research, as well as in opening up new and fruitful areas of inquiry into the interrelated topics of democracy, technology and community,” said David Campbell, a political scientist and the associate dean for social/human sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. He wrote a letter of support for the project that was included in the application.

The digitization project will help researchers at all levels, Professor Mario Sifuentez said.

“It provides access to a trove of documents that shed light on the nature and development of agriculture in the region, which amazingly has been understudied,” he said. “Despite living in the heart of one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, few people really understand how agriculture in the Central Valley works. I am invested in producing work and helping students produce work that explains the historical trajectory of how the Valley ended up as ‘The Valley,' and agriculture is the main component of that story.”

The archives set the stage for many research projects across many disciplines. Historians will find the records helpful, but so will people studying progressive era institutions, immigration, race relations, social movements, technological change or the rich history of food and agriculture in California, Campbell said. There are also implications for political science and public policy scholarship; environmental and climate studies around such topics as water and pesticide use; material for economists and labor market scholars; and geographers.

The library is working with the San Joaquin Valley Historical Society, and San Diego State University will also have a set of the records digitized when the project is completed. In addition, regional 4-H students will be part of the project, helping tag and digitize the material.

Cornell University Professor Scott Peters, a historian of higher education who wrote a letter of support for the project, said engaging with local students and their families through a 4-H project is particularly valuable.

“It's always important to help young people connect with the history of their communities,” Peters said. “These historical materials will enrich their understanding of the vision, values, ideals, tensions, dilemmas and struggles that the work of building a democratic culture in partnership with higher education requires and involves. And it helps them understand their own role in history and ask themselves what they are creating and leaving that will be part of history 100 years from now.”

After the 2014 centennial, UC ANR allocated funds to locate a professional archivist at the UC Merced library, which is becoming known for creating comprehensive digital collections of historical materials.

Archivist Lisa Vallen began work with the three pilot counties. She found UCCE records in the National Archives as well as pictures, negatives and documents spread throughout the state.

“Ideally, historical records should be kept in a space that's climate controlled,” Vallen said. “In Ventura, they have some in a container on a farm. That's not ideal at all.”

The ANR hopes this project will help not only researchers, but will educate the public and policy makers about UCCE.

“There's no question about the value of this project and the richness it brings to the whole state, not just UC,” said UC Merced University Librarian Haipeng Li.

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 10:03 AM
Tags: archive (1), centennial (4)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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