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Posts Tagged: July 2016

Travel funds available for CE specialists to collaborate with CE advisors

ANR will be making additional travel support available for UC Cooperative Extension specialists to collaborate with UCCE advisors in FY 2016/17. With the level of funds available, each specialist may apply for up to $2,500 for FY 2016/17 (funds must be expended by June 30, 2017). These travel funds must be utilized by the UCCE specialists only and cannot be used for out-of-state travel.

Completing a short online survey is the only step in accessing these funds.

A brief survey form is accessible from your ANR Portal. The survey asks 

  • Name and title of specialist requesting support
  • Project/Program name
  • Brief project description (one paragraph)
  • Collaborating advisors

While there is no deadline for applications for these travel funds, they must be expended in the current fiscal year.

"We are pleased that we are able to take this step to assist in meeting an identified need," said Wendy Powers, associate vice president.

UCCE specialists may apply for funds directly at

Posted on Monday, August 1, 2016 at 8:15 AM
Tags: July 2016 (14), travel expenses (9)

Names in the News

Macaulay named rangeland specialist

Luke Macaulay
Luke Macaulay joined UCCE on June 30 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist for Rangeland Planning and Policy in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley.

Macaulay was involved in the formation of the Graduate Training in Cooperative Extension Pilot Program in 2013, and went on to become one of its inaugural participants in 2014-15. The three-year pilot program partners UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources students with UCCE specialists and advisors as mentors to carry out extension-based projects. For his project, Macaulay gathered information from private landowners and managers to determine how recreational hunting for big game and upland game may influence decisions regarding land-use and conservation practices.

As a UCCE specialist in rangeland planning and policy, his research focuses on land use change, the interaction of wildlife, livestock and people across the landscape, and policy that impacts conservation and use of rangelands.

Prior to joining UCCE, Macaulay was a postdoctoral researcher evaluating land use and ownership of California cropland. Before his graduate studies, Macaulay worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Antitrust Division and later as the spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco.

Macaulay earned his Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management and M.S. in range management from UC Berkeley. He completed a B.A. in liberal studies (a Great Books program) and Spanish from University of Notre Dame.

Macaulay is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at and @LukeRangeWalker on Twitter.

DiCaprio named food safety specialist

Erin DiCaprio
Erin DiCaprio joined UCCE on June 30 as a community food safety specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. DiCaprio focuses on community food safety. She is involved with the UC Master Food Preserver Program and extends safe food handling, preparation and storage information to the general public.

DiCaprio earned a Ph.D. in comparative veterinary medicine and a M.S. in food science and technology from The Ohio State University and a B.S. in biology from Virginia Tech.

Prior to joining UCCE, DiCaprio was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences at Ohio State. Her research project was focused on studying the interaction of foodborne viruses with fresh produce and developing methods to eliminate viruses in foods. She has worked in microbiology laboratories in both industry and academia and she has experience working with a wide array of microorganisms including mycorrhizal fungi, bacteria and viruses.

She is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-6594 and

Brim-DeForest named rice advisor

Whitney Brim-DeForest
Whitney Brim-DeForest joined ANR on June 20 as an area rice advisor in Sutter-Yuba, Placer and Sacramento counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Brim-DeForest was a graduate student researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, working at the California Rice Experiment Station in Biggs. She managed the UC Davis Weed Science field and greenhouse trials, and worked with industry and academic scientists to design field and greenhouse trials for weed management in rice.

Her past research has focused on the germination, emergence, and ecology of key weeds in the rice system and their impact on yields, and managing weeds of rice with subsistence farmers in the Kolda Region of Senegal.

Before starting graduate school, Brim-DeForest served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Kolda and Dakar, Senegal. During her service, she worked with local farmers on best management practices in rice, cowpeas, millet, sorghum and corn, as well as horticultural crops. She is fluent in Pulaar (Fulani) and French.

She completed a Ph.D. in horticulture and agronomy and an M.S. in international agricultural development at UC Davis and a B.A. in biology from Brown University.

Brim-DeForest is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-7515 and

Diaz named 4-H STEM coordinator

Jessica Diaz
Jessica Diaz is the new 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academic Coordinator.

As STEM academic coordinator, Diaz leads California's STEM Initiative to develop, strengthen and evaluate programmatic opportunities for California's young people in the areas of science, engineering and technology education. She will adapt and design culturally responsive best and innovative practices, programs, activities, and curriculum to reach underrepresented youth, particularly Latino youth.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Diaz earned her B.S. in biotechnology with a minor in chemistry from Cal State University, Northridge. While pursuing a Ph.D. in plant biology at UC Riverside, she co-created the Botany and Plant Sciences Department's Plant Discovery Day, where fifth- and sixth-graders were invited to learn about various aspects of plant biology. 

Diaz is based in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530)750-1341 and

Fontecha joins CSIT as artist

Katt Fontecha
Kathreen Fontecha has joined Communication Services and Information Technology as a senior artist.

Prior to joining ANR, she was the senior designer at the California Lighting Technology Center, a lighting efficiency research center at UC Davis, for eight years. Her career has focused on visual communications, branding and content development. She enjoys using her design skills to communicate technical information. She has a penchant for data collection, discovering patterns in information and interest in presenting analysis visually and succinctly. 

Fontecha earned bachelor's degrees in design and English from UC Davis and is currently enrolled in Northwestern University's master's degree program for information design and strategy through distance learning.

Fontecha is based in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1216 and

Bud inserted into rootstock.
ANR shares in multistate research award

Several ANR academics shared in the national 2015 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award for a project to improve the sustainability of tree fruits. The NC-140 Research Project, “Improving Sustainability in Fruit Tree Production through Changes in Rootstock,” conducted innovative research on fruit tree rootstock genetics, production, management and economics.

UCCE specialists Scott Johnson and Ted DeJong, and Rachel Elkins, UCCE advisor in Lake and Mendocino counties, represented California at annual meetings held around the country, Canada and Mexico. Kevin Day, Johnson and DeJong led statewide trials in peaches, Johnson led apple trials, and Elkins led pear trials. UCCE advisors Joe Grant and Chuck Ingels also participated as trial cooperators in cherry and pear, respectively. DeJong and Elkins co-hosted and chaired the 2015 NC-140 Regional Rootstock Project Annual Meeting, attended by about 40 national collaborators.

The NC-140 Research Project has been in existence since the 1970s, and the award recognizes the project's large body of work contributed by many researchers.

NC-140 recommendations have resulted in earlier returns, greater yields, and higher fruit quality, with a financial benefit to U.S. fruit tree producers of at least $250 million. Less easily measured benefits, such as averted losses and enhanced environmental quality, likely increase the financial value of NC-140 to well beyond $500 million over the next five years.

For example, adoption of NC-140 recommended dwarfing rootstocks will result in a 50 percent reduction in canopy volume and reduce pesticide usage by half on 200,000 acres, providing net environmental benefits and savings of $150 million in pesticide application costs. With NC-140 recommended rootstocks, it is expected that yields will increase by 20 percent per acre, fruit size will increase by 10 percent and tree losses due to disease will decline by 10 percent.

The Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award, given annually, provides NC-140 an additional $15,000 in additional funding. A permanent plaque will be displayed at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, DC.

Elkins, Lucas and Pittenger win ASHS awards

ANR members won two awards from the American Society for Horticultural Science Extension Division for Outstanding Extension Education Materials.

Rachel Elkins, UCCE advisor, and Ray Lucas, ANR videographer, won the 2015 Outstanding Video Award for “Budding, Grafting and Planting Walnut Trees.”

“There have been over 100,000 views, the most of any UC ANR video, ever,” said Elkins.

The video can be viewed at It is also in the ANR catalog

As editor of the California Master Gardener Handbook, Dennis Pittenger accepted the ASHS Outstanding Book Award for the comprehensive reference on basic horticulture

The award is based on the book's completeness and accuracy of information, appropriateness for its intended audience, organization, attractiveness, originality/uniqueness and correctness of grammar. 

“This award is very meaningful and speaks to the technical merit and usability of the book because the judges are Cooperative Extension colleagues of other universities across the U.S.,” said Pittenger, UCCE area environmental horticulture advisor for Los Angeles County based at UC Riverside. “It verifies the quality of content provided by the 24 authors and co-authors and the production quality provided by ANR Communication Services.”

This is the second time the California Master Gardener Handbook has received this award from ASHS, as the 1st edition also received the award in 2002. The handbook is the leading Master Gardener training support publication nationally. 

Authors included Pamela M. Geisel; Ben Faber; James Walworth; Deborah D. Giraud; Deborah Silva; Janet Hartin; Demetrios G. Kontaxis; Richard H. Molinar; Julie P. Newman; Ralph Gay; M. Ali. Harivandi; Donald R. Hodel; Nancy Garrison; Paul M. Vossen; Delbert S. Farnham; Mark Bolda; Donald J. Merhaut; Carol Lovatt; Mikeal Roose; Georgios Vidalakis; Berthold O. Bergh; Akif Eskalen; John F. Karlik and Judith A. Alsop.

The ASHS awards were presented Aug. 4, 2015, at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans.

[Editor's note: We're a bit tardy in reporting the 2015 ASHS awards.]


Posted on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 9:02 AM

Webinar explains staff performance and merit pay

Human Resources hosted a town hall webinar July 29 on the staff performance appraisal process and the 2016 staff merit pay program. The session included opening remarks from VP Glenda Humiston followed by an update from John Fox, ANR Human Resources.

For employees who were unable to participate, the session was recorded and available for viewing on the ANR HR website.

View the recorded webinar on ReadyTalk (Flash required)

ANR Staff Salary Program 2016/2017 FAQs

ANR Town Hall Webinar July 29, 2016 (PPT)

Posted on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 2:55 PM

Weighing lysimeter available for research at KARE

The Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) in Parlier is requesting proposals for new research and demonstration projects for the period Nov. 1, 2016, through Oct. 31, 2017.

Located near Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley, Kearney has 330 acres suitable for many types of tree, vine, and row crops and environmental research.

Kearney has the most extensive specialized agricultural research facilities of any off-campus location within UC: modern greenhouse, post-harvest facilities, sample handling (including cold storage and drying), sensory evaluation, soil-weighing lysimeter, and associated research laboratory facilities.

Substantial open ground, plantings of grapes, stone fruit, kiwi and alfalfa are becoming available.

Proposal forms are to be submitted electronically via the “Universal Review System” accessed through your UC ANR Portal by Sept. 30, 2016. Forms are located at

To submit the required forms, log into, then click on “Login to Universal Review System.” Under “Open Systems” select “Kearney REC CALL FOR RESEARCH PROPOSALS 2016-2017.” Fill out the “New Proposal” form, then submit it by clicking the “Create Proposal” button at the bottom of the page.

Weighing lysimeter available

A soil-weighing lysimeter is available for research at KARE.

A weighing lysimeter measures water loss from plants and the surrounding soil. The lysimeter at Kearney consists of an underground chamber that houses a balance-beam weighing system, upon which rests a rectangular box measuring 6.5 feet wide by 13 feet long and 6.5 feet deep. The box is automatically weighed every hour to determine water loss.

The KARE Research Advisory Committee will review competitive proposals and recommend the assignment of the lysimeter. The approved proposal will be allocated subsidized support hours and the adjoining 3.5 acres of open ground.

Project proposals for using the lysimeter are due Sept. 30, 2016, or until it has been assigned. Project proposal forms are available on the RECS website. Applications must be submitted online.

For more information contact KARE superintendent of agriculture Chuck Boldwyn,, (559) 646-6020; KARE office manager Janie Duran,, (559) 646-6010; or KARE director Jeff Dahlberg,; (559) 646-6060.

To learn more about Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, visit

Retired pomologist Scott Johnson in the underground access chamber of the weighing lysimeter.
Posted on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 2:14 PM

Apps for Ag hackathon brings ag and tech together

From left, GivingGarden team members Scott Kirkland, Josh Livni, Deema Tamimi and John Knoll.
A gardening and produce-sharing app took top prize in the Apps for Ag hackathon, after contestants pitched judges at the California State Fair in Sacramento on July 17.

The Apps for Ag hackathon, which was spearheaded by Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer, brought software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers and others who work in agriculture to the ANR building for a weekend to create apps to address agricultural issues.

The first place team, GivingGarden, took home $7,500 in prize money, custom rodeo belt buckles and a six-month, top-tier membership to the AgStart Incubator in Woodland.

The hyper-local, produce-sharing app provides gardening advice from the UC Master Gardener Program and enables backyard gardeners to connect with others who want to share their produce. The GivingGarden team members are Scott Kirkland, Josh Livni, Deema Tamimi and John Knoll.

Neil McRoberts, UCCE specialist, explained the threat posed by Asian citrus psyllid.
Second place was awarded to Sense and Protect, a mobile task-management app that connects to climate sensors to protect farmworkers' health and enhance their productivity. Sense and Protect team members Dhrubajyoti Das, Alex Avalos, Anthony Johnson and Peter Swanson shared $4,500.

UC IPM's Mark Takata and Chinh Lam split $2,500 for third place for their ACP STAR System, a geo and temporal database and platform for tracking Asian citrus psyllid and other invasive pests.

The top three teams will also receive complimentary startup incorporation services valued at $2,200 from Royse Law.

From left, UC IPM's Mark Takata and Chinh Lam, who won third place, with Rina DiMare of the California State Fair, and Gabe Youtsey.
Compostable, which finished in fourth place, is an app and “Internet of Things” (IoT) device that diverts food waste from landfills and turns it into fertilizer and fuel so that it can be used on a farm. Sohail Khan, Nathan Azevedo, Brandon Jack, Regan King and Raheela Khan make up the Compostable team.

All of the participating teams had about 48 hours to develop their apps. Teams that were interested were offered $500 in “cloud credits” to build their solutions and host them on Amazon Web Services' platform. Teams also had access to an IoT kit to incorporate connected devices into their solution.

The top four teams pitched their apps to judges in front of a live audience at the California State Fair.

The event was sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California State Fair and the City of Sacramento.

“It's really important for UC ANR to be involved in app development because as farmers and natural resource managers face ever-increasing challenges – climate change, invasive pests, the need to conserve water – technology is one of the ways to find solutions,” said VP Glenda Humiston.

“Using technology we can find better ways to reduce pesticide use, increase irrigation efficiency, reduce travel into the fields, manage people better, and deal with the fact that we have a huge labor shortage in this state,” said Humiston, who served as one of the Apps for Ag judges.

The other judges included University of California Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola, USDA Chief Data Officer Bobby Jones, and Better Food Ventures and Mixing Bowl Hub founder Rob Trice.

From left, judges Rob Trice, Glenda Humiston, Bobby Jones and Tom Andriola.
Posted on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 11:38 AM

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