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ANR Employees

2016 Call for Positions

On December 14, 2016 UC ANR Vice President Humiston announced the the release of 26 CE positions from the 2016 call for a new round of hiring over the next two years. This new release continues the commitment for hiring to exceed projected turnover, thus achieving the goal of academic growth. And, as funding becomes available, UC ANR will consider additional positions.

2016 approved CE positions

January 12, 2016 solicited proposals for Cooperative Extension (CE) advisor and specialist positions in the ANR Update. The call identified positions for strengthening and expanding the UC ANR network to address programmatic gaps and emerging needs. Below this public webpage displays all 138 new CE position proposals (there is a search tool to assist in finding proposals).

The online submittal process was open from January 12 – May 5 (5:00 PM) to allow as much time as possible for internal consultation and external input from UC ANR stakeholders in all program areas. Submissions were accepted from the following official submitter groups:

The Review Phase was completed May 5 – August 1. All proposals were reviewed. The program area and unit reviews were conducted by the Program Teams; geographic groups of County/Multicounty Partnership and Research and Extension Center Directors, and the UC ANR affiliated colleges and school. These groups prioritized and provided rationale for the position proposals under their purview. This input was used to inform UC ANR Program Council’s recommendations and ultimately the UC ANR Vice President’s decisions. More information about the review process is available in the review orientation.

The public comment period was open Jan. 12 through July 11, 2016. Comments can be viewed by clicking the position links below. Comments were reviewed by the review groups, Program Council and the Vice President.

Relevant documents:

If you have any questions, contact Katherine Webb-Martinez at (510) 987-0029 or


2016 URS Call for Positions

This proposal has been formally submitted for the 2016 cycle.

Position Details

135 Viticulture/Automation and Mechanization Specialist

California’s grape growers are confronted by an increasingly expensive and less available labor force, compelling them to reconsider their traditional reliance on hand labor. The focus of this position will be to develop and optimize technologies to automate and mechanize vineyard operations such as site evaluation, soil tillage, spraying, canopy management, weed control, irrigation scheduling, estimating yield, assessing fruit maturity, and harvesting. This position will be located at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier (KARE), with a main appointment in the Department of Viticulture and Enology and a joint appointment in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. The incumbent will be expected to serve California’s wine, table and raisin grape growers that represent over $5 billion in value and over 800,000 acres planted. The position would join two other complementary existing CE Specialist positions to cover the entire scope of the California grape industry’s research and extension needs.

Proposed Location/Housing

Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center, affiliated with the Depts of Viticulture & Enology and Biological & Agricultural Engineering, UC Davis

Proposed Area of Coverage

Statewide with emphasis in the San Joaquin Valley


Associated Documents



Labor costs are making it more difficult for grape growers to find reliable and cost efficient ways to harvest their grapes. There is a tremendous need for the development and deployment of mechanized harvesting and pruning technologies to offset the loss of traditional hand labor, which has been the key to successful grape production in California. KARE has unique machine shop and research facilities that would encourage the development and testing of technologies that would address the labor issues currently facing grape growers. KARE is also home to a new variety of DOV raisins that would benefit from this technology. The position would be expected to test and develop technologies that would encourage the deployment of machine harvesting and pruning, which would extend beyond grapes into other crops facing the same labor issues. In order for grapes to remain competitive in California, there will be the need to move away from traditional hand labor to more mechanization in the future if our producers are to remain competitive in a world market.
Posted Jun 7, 2016 11:19 AM by Jeff Dahlberg, Director
With decreased economic return and increased labor cost for vineyard operation in San Joaquin Valley, mechanization and sensing technology are essentially needed to increase grape yield/quality and reduce the labor cost in order to make reasonable profits for grape growers to stay in the business. This proposed position will help the grape industry move forward to maintain its competiveness and strength in order to sustain the SJV grape industry .
Posted Jun 7, 2016 11:48 AM by George Zhuang
My proposed ranking is contingent on this position stimulating research and support for both small and large vineyard operations located across a variety of growing environments. The labor shortage and quest for fruit quality applies to all sizes of vineyards and many terriors, not just the multi-thousand-acre vineyards in SJV where where KARE is located.

My ranking is High if this position can reach across the diversity of vineyards in California. Otherwise, my ranking is Low.
Posted Jun 20, 2016 7:10 AM by Ed Muns
Other comments have focused on reduction of labor, reduced long-term costs and improvement of grape and wine quality, which are all very true. Another great benefit to our industry and our communities is a huge increase in overall safety for workers. Many industries see large reductions in injuries and illnesses when increased mechanization is intelligently applied and an overall increase in both worker production and pay rates. Results will indeed also include strengthening social fabric of our communities. Better use of resources will include reduction in spray applications per acre and lower impact on our environment. In order to move towards these goals, this position is greatly needed and overdue!
Posted Jun 20, 2016 9:14 AM by Greg La Follette
Manual vineyard laborers are an endangered species that will soon only be available to work in vineyards where machines cannot for proper wages. Aside from super luxury wines, the other 99% of wine grapes will need to be worked by machines. Dissemination and propagation of labor saving mechanization is critical for sustaining the industry. I applaud UCD for addressing this need, and support the addition of this position.
Posted Jun 20, 2016 9:52 AM by Daniel Sullivan
NGWI recently received a $4 million grant to develop sensor based technology to improve yield estimating in vineyards. This research will result in the commercialization of platforms to turn data into information to more efficiently farm our vineyards. We can expect to reduce inputs, increase yields and quality, and become better stewards of our land.
From the position description: “The focus of this position will be to develop and optimize technologies to automate and mechanize vineyard operations such as site evaluation, soil tillage, spraying, canopy management, weed control, irrigation scheduling, estimating yield, assessing fruit maturity, and harvesting.”
It is imperative that our universities have the resources necessary to leverage this move to precision farming in perineal crops and bring the benefits to all growers. I applaud UC ANR for having the foresight to develop and advocate for this critical Extension position.
Posted Jun 20, 2016 10:17 AM by Tony Stephen
I am a recently retired UCSD faculty member who has been active in research and education for over 40 years, I have just started a vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, We and other grape growers in the region need all the help and advice possible. Our land is on steep terrain, and so expertise in adapting mechanical procedures to replace manual tasks on challenging terrain are critical - as is expertise in all aspects of viticulture. To have just two people presently to serve the entire state in one of its flagship industries is hard to believe, and although 3 would be a 50% increase, it is still a very small ratio of faculty to vineyards. Currently, we are helping each other, but it is a little like the blind leading the blind, and whether we are making good decisions is really in question. True expertise would greatly help. We support this new position in the strongest possible terms.
Posted Jun 20, 2016 9:54 PM by peter wagner
A CE Specialist with expertise in vineyard mechanization for grapes is of critical importance now and for the future. While it makes sense for this Specialist to be based in Kearney, their research and expertise will prove valuable to coastal grape growing regions as well. Mechanization may not be appropriate for every vineyard, but its role will only grow and growers will need help understanding how best to implement these new tools.
Posted Jun 22, 2016 2:02 PM by Matthew Reid, Winemaker, Benessere Vineyards; Consulting Winemaker, Burgess Cellars
Mechanization has become a top priority for the survival of the industry given the scarcity of labor, as well as the associated cost in a worldwide marketplace that's gotten so competitive.
Having a specialist to guide growers in their journey towards mechanized vineyard operations is by all means justified. It's surprising to see there are only two CE Specialists for the entire state.
Posted Jun 23, 2016 8:06 AM by Adolfo Alarcon
This joint appointment with the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering makes incredible sense in tapping the experience and expertise of an engineering department that has proven impact in the area of agricultural mechanization. This area of research WILL have a positive impact on the industry and other industries looking to modernize with the latest technologies.
Posted Jun 23, 2016 5:09 PM by Mike Chan
Up to 90% of the wine in the United States is produced in California. Labor availability is one of the biggest issues in the California agricultural industries. In addition, since farm work is more physically demanding and less well compensated than non-farm jobs requiring similar skills, it is increasingly difficult to attract domestic and international workers willing to performa farm jobs. It is extremely important to encourage the development of new technologies to reduce the usage of manual labor in agricultural production, including in viticulture. Technical investments and development will help the viticulture sector adjust to current needs, and it will be the only way of being nationally and internationally competitive.
Posted Jun 28, 2016 11:06 AM by Irwin R Donis-Gonzalez
Research in the field of viticulture mechanization and automation is very valuable since it will contribute to the profitability and competitiveness of the California table grape industry and other grape and wine industries in the United States.

Table grapes are an extremely important commodity in California, both in value and in amount of planted acreage. In 2015, the crop had a volume of 110.5 million box units with a value of $1.8 billion, and accounted for over 99% of national table grape production. About 40 percent of California table grapes are exported.

The California table grape industry has identified mechanization and automation as key components for future research work with goals to improve vineyard productivity, fruit quality, and profitability through an innovative, science-driven, and feasible precision viticulture. Unlike winegrape production, most table grape canopy and crop operations, such as canopy management, cluster thinning and harvesting, are presently performed manually, and labor is becoming less available and more expensive. Research in the field of vineyard mechanization and sensing technologies, such as canopy and crop sensing, water use sensing and automated irrigation; and assessing nutrient status of the site and vines is considered essential for modern agriculture.

The California Table Grape Commission supports the new Cooperative Extension Specialist position in Viticulture/Automation and Mechanization, as it believes that research in mechanization and automation will help take modern table grape growing to the next level. The strategic location at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier is especially welcomed, because of its proximity to multiple grapevine industries, including table grapes.
Posted Jul 7, 2016 8:47 AM by Kathleen Nave, President, California Table Grape Commission
In order to keep competitive, agriculture has had to adapt. In large part, mechanization has lead the way in order to do this. Winegrapes have incorporated some specific mechanical practices over the decades, but in large part this area of agriculture has been slow in adopting large scale mechanical practices. This is beginning to change with the adoption of mechanical pruning systems. As labor becomes more stretched and more expensive, the wine grape industry will have an ever increasing need to turn to more mechanical practices. By filling this position UC will be poised to be an industry leader and help California’s wine grape industry remain profitable and competitive for decades in the future.
Posted Jul 11, 2016 11:04 AM by Stuart Spencer, Programy Manager, Lodi Winegrape Commission
The automation of management and harvest of the diversity of wine-, table-, and raisin- grape crops and landscapes provides many opportunities for robotics R&D as well as improved crop management.
Posted Jul 11, 2016 4:53 PM by Carolyn Jones
As the Director of Industry Relations for the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, I have traveled all over the state asking attendees at our educational seminars what is important to them. We often get the comment that the need to mechanize more than just the picking of grapes is extremely important, due to labor shortages. Having an Extension Specialist in Viticulture devoted to optimization of automation and mechanization would be a great step in the right direction for the wine grape, table grape, and raisin grape industries.
Posted Jul 11, 2016 5:02 PM by Karen Block
What are we going to do without labor? Mechanize. We need a specialist dedicated to mechanization. It is a technology that cannot be disseminated via books or a website. A hands-in specialist with expertise, experience and a willingness to trial new equipment is critical.
Chris Storm
Vino Farms
Posted Jul 11, 2016 9:27 PM by Chris Storm

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