Opening 2009 with significant UC press hits

Jan 5, 2009

Happy New Year! UC ANR experts are off to a running start in the New Year, with appearances in a number of well-read publications.

The Associated Press moved a story on the wire about the use of lasers for irrigation. The article was picked up widely in the news media over the holiday weekend, including the Los Angeles Times. The article, written by John Rogers, said a UC San Diego professor of environmental engineering is pointing a laser beam across an alfalfa crop in Southern California's Imperial Valley, looking for a better way to conserve the millions of gallons of water sprayed each year on thirsty crops. The objective is to give farmers a more accurate, up-to-date reading of how efficiently their crops are using water than current technology allows.

UC Cooperative Extension irrigation expert Khaled Bali said water shortages are prompting researchers to come up with new ways to determine when to irrigate and how much water to use. "There's not enough water to go around," he was quoted in the story.

UC Cooperative Extension's Rose Hayden-Smith authored an essay that was posted recently in the Huffington Post. Her article offered advice to Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa who was nominated by President-elect Obama to be his administration's Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack's nomination has been met with some criticism, Hayden-Smith wrote.

"He has been criticized for his ties to agribusiness and his support of biofuels and biotechnology. To many, Vilsack represents 'agribusiness as usual.' But Vilsack also has a reputation for being a good listener and being able to work successfully with those who hold differing viewpoints. Those are reasons to be hopeful," the article says.

Hayden-Smith invoked the ideas and idealism of Henry Agard Wallace, the agriculture secretary from 1921 to 1924, in advising the nominee. Wallace's tenure was imperfect, she said, but he had vision and understood agriculture.

"My advice to the incoming Ag Secretary: Channel another son of Iowa, Henry Agard Wallace. Read everything he wrote. Focus on Wallace's visionary nature and the size of his ideas," Hayden-Smith said in her essay.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist