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Humiston and Parker see climate-smart ideas in the Netherlands

Glenda Humiston and Doug Parker visited Wageningen University with CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.
Last week VP Glenda Humiston and Doug Parker, California Institute for Water Resources director, joined Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, on an agricultural tour of the Netherlands. The purpose of the trip, arranged by Ross, was to strengthen collaboration between Californians and the Dutch in addressing climate change in the agricultural sector.

Ross wrote about the experience in her Planting Seeds blog while Humiston, Parker and other participants posted Twitter updates from their climate smart agriculture tour with the hashtag #CSAmission.

During the visit, Ross and the Netherlands Minister of Agriculture Martijin van Dam signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate on shared agricultural issues.

“The agreement between California and the Netherlands can speed up solutions for the agricultural industry to adapt to climate change,” Humiston said. “With Dutch collaboration on climate-smart research, we'll be able to develop new technology and improve agricultural productivity faster.”

Tomato and sea kale grown in the Netherlands with sea water.
Ross said the trip to the Netherlands is just the start of greater collaboration with the Dutch in addressing climate change in the agricultural sector.

“The innovations in water use, green house technology and saline agriculture are practical on-farm solutions that can assist California's farmers,” Ross wrote in the blog.

At Wageningen University's research farm, the group met Salt Farm Texel growers who are using saline water to produce food crops such as potatoes and tomatoes.  “California has both saline groundwater and saline soils in some areas,” Parker said. “In those areas, our growers may be able to use some of their techniques.”

Noting that the Netherlands has similar water quality concerns to California's, Parker said, “The people we met in the Netherlands are interested in learning from our efforts to find ways to help our agricultural sector produce healthy, environmental sound and sustainable products.”

Dutch scientists are trying to achieve carbon neutrality in greenhouse production.
Humiston and Ross met with Louise Fresco, president of Wageningen University & Research Centre and author of Hamburgers in Paradise, and discussed opportunities for cooperation.

“With our partners at the University of California, we have the opportunity to expand collaboration with Wageningen UR to develop joint research projects on climate smart agriculture – bringing the lessons and practices learned in the Netherlands, home to California,” Ross wrote. “When I see the reuse of water for food production, taste horticultural products grown with salt water and observe the production gains that greenhouse management systems can bring to our berry industry – these are connections that our growers would be eager to learn more about.”

Humiston said, “We will be following up with our new friends in the Netherlands to look at ways our researchers can exchange ideas and information with their Dutch counterparts.” 

The Netherlands is just one of the countries facing challenges similar to those in California where UC ANR hopes to increase collaboration. On Jan. 12 and 13, UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources will be co-sponsoring “Proven Solutions to Drought Stress: Water Management Strategies for Perennial Crops with Limited and Impaired Water Supplies,”  a workshop in Modesto for scientists from Israel and Australia to discuss drought management with California scientists.

From left, Ross, Louise Fresco, Humiston and Richard Rominger, grower and UC President's Advisory Commission member.
Posted on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 7:54 PM

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