Posts Tagged: Blake Sanden
For 26 years, Blake Sanden has been the irrigation, soils and agronomy farm advisor with UC Cooperative Extension at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. Sanden retired from UCCE Kern County on July 1.
He helped growers with on-farm soil and water problems, organized and spoke at workshops across California and conducted applied field research projects focusing on irrigation, salinity/fertility management for all crops, and agronomic field crop production of alfalfa, dry beans and oil crops.
Sanden has a bachelor's degree in international agricultural development and agronomy and master's degree in irrigation and drainage from UC Davis and 35 years of experience in California production ag, international ag development and extension.
He developed salt tolerance thresholds for high-production California pistachios in the San Joaquin Valley, soil moisture monitoring techniques and irrigation efficiency assessment on 12,000 acres in Kern County and deficit irrigation in early citrus navel oranges.
Over the last eight years, Sanden has fulfilled a vision that started nearly 30 years ago. Through collaboration with nearly 50 University of California researchers, farm advisors, extension specialists, the Wonderful Farming Company and almond industry representatives, he played a crucial role in increasing the precision of water and fertilizer application for optimal almond yield – increasing the statewide average yield by more than 50 percent.
But some of his greatest joys and heart-felt satisfaction lay in development work in Africa – 3 years of missionary service in the 1980s developing vegetable gardens in Zambia and month-long training/consulting trips working with farmers and extension agents in Uganda, Ethiopia and central Asia.
When asked what he'll miss the most about his career, he said the interaction with the growers, most notably “seeing the ‘ah-ha' light up in a grower's eyes when he finally grasps the solution.”
He remembered a particular time in May of 2004 when a sugarbeet grower called him seeking his advice on whether or not to irrigate his 380 acres of beets one last time before harvesting. That was the way he had always done it. So Sanden went out and spent a couple of hours using his hand probe to check the moisture of the fields down to a three-foot depth.
“I ask, ‘Ken, when did you last probe this field?'” Sanden recalled.
‘“Oh, I really didn't check it this year?' he says.”
“Do you really need to irrigate or is this enough water to get through harvest?” noting that he already had enough moisture.
“I guess it's enough, but that's why I asked you out here. It wouldn't hurt to put on the irrigation, would it? I'd feel better. Of course, we did get the digger stuck a couple times last year because the field was too wet.”
“Too much water does hurt beets because you will reduce sugar percentage and can get rot and lose tonnage,” Sanden replied.
“OK, it makes me a bit nervous but you say I have at least four inches of water stored in the soil that the beets can get at.”
That year Ken was the top sugar producer in Kern County and got the Silver Beet Knife for highest percentage of sugar, Blake recalled.
“With that two hours worth of field scouting, he probably made an extra $300,000 in the saved irrigation and increased sugar,” Blake said.
In my ANR Update message on Feb. 8, I shared a report released in January by the Huron Consulting Group on the UC Office of the President's (UCOP) organizational structure. President Napolitano's goal in commissioning that review was to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of UCOP, while aligning its work to best support the university's core mission.
As I mentioned last month, Huron offered options that we believe would harm ANR's ability to deliver our mission of research and extension and to bring UC to local communities in every part of California. We identified several issues with both options, chief among those were adding layers of administration between ANR and the UC president as well as between ANR and the public we serve. Those additional layers would likely increase administrative costs and reduce funding for program delivery. At the president's request, we have developed an alternative proposal that would strengthen ANR's ability to deliver our mission while also serving the needs of UCOP for better financial management and administrative efficiency.
A challenge we have faced for years is that about half of our budget flows through UCOP while we manage the remainder directly. ANR is the only major operating division at UCOP that directly conducts research and program delivery, with hundreds of employees throughout California deploying over $200 million in resources. This has caused a great deal of confusion for auditors and often led to budget cuts during calls to reduce UC administrative overhead. Our recommendation places the entire ANR budget into one operating unit/location within the UC Chart of Accounts and allows for more transparency to the public. It also improves ANR's opportunities to stabilize our funding, rebuild our academic footprint and enhance program delivery.
Unlike the institutions used as examples in Huron's report, there is no one flagship campus serving as California's land-grant institution; instead, the entire UC system is responsible for the land-grant mission. To effectively deliver that mission, ANR is structured as a large statewide operating unit administering over 300 Memoranda of Understanding with a wide array of public and private sector partners, including deployment of resources on multiple campuses across the UC system and in close partnership with local governments in every county. The Huron report recognized that housing ANR within one campus was suboptimal and could create perceptions of favoritism and inequities between the campuses. Our proposal calls for a collaborative relationship; injecting competition and administrative layers would not serve the UC system nor our stakeholders well.
Separating ANR's budget and FTE from UCOP offers many advantages to both entities. Under the proposal we have offered, the ANR vice president continues to report directly to the president, the ANR governance structure does not change and no people or infrastructure would be moved. The proposal does agree with the Huron recommendation that ANR funding should be changed to state appropriations and that reconnecting the UC Natural Reserve System to ANR offers improved research opportunities for both entities. We believe these changes would best achieve the president's objectives to better align UCOP support functions to campuses while enhancing the systemwide and statewide functions of a vital outreach and engagement arm of the university.
The president continues to analyze the different options before her to ensure UCOP is best serving the UC system as well as all Californians for the long term. We are excited to work closely with President Napolitano to strengthen UC as a premiere research and extension institute by giving these vital programs room to grow and better serve the critical needs of California's economy and communities. I will continue to keep you apprised as our discussions unfold.
Gabriel Torres joined UCCE on Feb. 1, 2018, as an area viticulture advisor in Tulare and Kings counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Torres was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Nematology at UC Riverside developing an integrated pest management strategy for controlling the most prevalent nematode species in grape vineyards in California. Torres evaluated rootstock resistance, chemical and biological compounds, and anaerobic soil disinfestation methods. Torres conducted most of the nematode experiments under the supervision of UC Cooperative Extension specialist Andreas Westphal.
From 2014 to 2016, Torres was a leader of the plant pathology program for the Colombian Oil Palm Natural Research Centre (CENIPALMA) in Bogota, Colombia. There he developed and guided projects aimed at solving disease problems of the oil palm crop in Colombia, including bud rot, lethal wilt, and basal stem rot.
He completed a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Michigan State University and a B.Sc. in agronomy from Universidad de Caldas, Manizales, Caldas, Colombia.
Torres is based in Tulare and can be reached at (559) 684-3316 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lund named grape advisor for Madera, Merced and Mariposa counties
Karl Lund joined UCCE on Jan. 8, 2018, as an area viticulture advisor in Madera, Merced and Mariposa counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Lund was a trial specialist at Syngenta Flower, where he designed and conducted floriculture research trials under both greenhouse and garden conditions for a wide variety of flowering plants, specifically focused on the development of fertilization recommendations and nutrient profiles. In 2016, Lund was a technology development representative at Monsanto, where he worked with seed distributors and local farmers to plant, maintain and evaluate pre-commercial varieties of lettuce, bell peppers and spinach.
Lund spent many years teaching and conducting research in viticulture. Starting in 2008, he worked in the laboratory of Andy Walker at UC Davis, where he ran a project looking at the phenotypic and genetic diversity of phylloxera in Northern California, and trying to understand the genetics of phylloxera resistance in hopes of breeding new phylloxera resistance rootstocks for California. His research helped identify new feeding types of phylloxera in Northern California and connected those feeding types to genetic groups. He also identified new sources of broad phylloxera resistance to be used in breeding phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.
As a postdoc in the Walker lab, Lund looked at drought avoidance in grapevine rootstocks. Insights from this work may be useful in the creation of more drought-tolerant rootstocks. In addition to his research, he was a teaching assistant for several UC Davis classes. Lund wrote a book chapter on grapevine breeding in the western United States and lectured at Cal Poly SLO for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Lund completed a B.S. and a Ph.D. in genetics at UC Davis.
Based in Madera, Lund can be reached at (559) 675-7879, ext. 7205 and email@example.com.
Kansal joins CSIT as portfolio and project manager
Namita Kansal recently joined the Communication Services and Information Technology as a portfolio and project manager.
Some of the projects she is working on include assessing the network status of all UCCE sites in California to inform strategic decisions to fund and prioritize the UCCE sites that urgently need network upgrades, portfolio-level reports to inform strategic, operational and funding decisions for the Web IT team, a change management process for the entire IT team, and a project plan and funding estimates for the ANR website redesign.
Before joining ANR, Kansal was a project manager at the UC Davis School of Medicine, working to operationalize strategic initiatives, program development and project management.
She earned a masters in public administration and a master in arts from Syracuse University.
Kansal is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1207 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers has selected Ali Pourreza, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis, to receive the Sunkist Young Designer Award.
This award recognizes and honors ASABE members under 40 years of age for outstanding contributions to the advancement of the agricultural engineering profession and to stimulate professional achievement.
Sponsored by Sunkist Growers, Inc., the Young Designer Award recognizes the development of a technical plan that influences agricultural engineering progress, as evidenced by use in the field.
Pourreza developed a polarized imaging technique to detect accumulation of starch in citrus leaves as an early indication of citrus greening disease or huanglongbing (HLB).
“The polarized imaging technique was primarily used for early citrus greening detection, that is a major disease of citrus with no known cure,” said Pourreza. “Early detection of citrus greening is important because growers can prevent further spread of the disease before the entire orchard gets infected. The polarized imaging technique can also be used in other applications that involve the detection of starch or sugar.”
He also developed the Virtual Orchard, which uses aerial imagery and photogrammetry to create a 3-D image of an orchard.
“Knowledge about tree geometry such as individual canopy cover, volume, height and density is important for growers to understand variability within their orchard and make timely decisions about irrigation, nutrient, pest and disease, etc.,” Pourreza said. ”Virtual Orchard is an affordable technology that makes this information accessible for growers. Information extracted from the Virtual Orchard can be used to apply variable rate inputs in a site-specific manner according to the prescription maps that identify the application rate at different locations of an orchard.”
The award will be presented to Pourreza during the ASABE annual meeting in July in Detroit.
UC ANR receives award for extending high-speed broadband
CENIC has awardedUC ANR its 2018 Innovations in Networking Award for Broadband Applications. The award recognizes work to extend high-speed broadband to University of California researchers in rural communities across California by connecting UC ANR sites to the California Research and Education Network (CalREN),
Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer; Tolgay Kizilelma, chief information security officer; and Tu Tran, associate vice president for business operations, were recognized as project leaders.
“You can't do big data with dial-up internet speed,” said Jeffery Dahlberg, director of the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center. “Before this upgrade, our internet was slower than my home internet speeds. Now we have speeds more like you will find on UC campuses.”
In addition to the RECs, Highlander Hall, home to News and Information Outreach in Spanish and the Citrus Clonal Protection Program, is now connected to CalREN. Elkus Ranch (the environmental education center for Bay Area youths), the UC ANR building in Davis and 30 UC Cooperative Extension sites are in the process of being connected.
“Mark has exceptional accomplishments in the private sector, academia and administration that demonstrate his ability to partner and collaborate in order to achieve what, at first, might seem impossible,” said Wendy Powers, associate vice president. “I'm excited about the expertise, experience, insight and perspective he will bring to UC ANR as we drive towards our 2025 Strategic Vision and having a positive impact for every Californian.”
Lagrimini is currently a professor in the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studies the regulation of carbohydrate partitioning in maize and its impact on drought tolerance.
“I am excited about joining the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources leadership team,” Lagrimini said. “Agriculture is an economic engine for the state of California. I will support a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and teamwork within the division to turn the numerous challenges we face in agriculture into opportunities.”
From 2005 to 2011, he served as head of the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, leading the university's largest department of more than 80 faculty members.
From 1999 to 2005, he was a project leader for Syngenta Biotechnology Inc. located in Research Triangle Park, NC, where he led an ambitious agronomic improvement project using structural and functional genomics, coordinated ectopic gene expression, metabolic pathway engineering, elite maize transformation, and physiological assessment of plant performance with proof-of-concept achieved. While at Syngenta, Lagrimini received four U.S. patents. He began his academic career as an assistant/associate professor in the Department of Horticulture & Crop Science at The Ohio State University from 1987 to 1999.
He holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Iowa and a B.S. in biochemistry from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As Vice Provost of Research and Extension, Lagrimini will report directly to the Associate Vice President and collaborate closely with the Vice Provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs and Vice Provost of Academic Personnel and Development. He will lead the County Director/REC Director Council, oversee all UCCE county directors, REC directors and both assistant vice provost positions and serve on Program Council.
Lagrimini will join ANR on June 1, 2018, and be based at the Second Street building in Davis.
Would you like to be a mentor for a UC Berkeley graduate student interested in gaining experience in Cooperative Extension?
The Graduate Students in Extension (GSE) Pilot at UC Berkeley has been extended for one year. The Request for Applications for 2018-2019 fellows at UC Berkeley is open, and student applications are due on March 30, 2018.
One of the goals of the GSE pilot is to facilitate greater interaction between graduate students and Cooperative Extension employees. As such, applicants must identify Cooperative Extension mentors who will assist in advising their project and introduce them to Extension work. Prospective students have been encouraged to identify possible mentors through the ANR Directory, so students might reach out to ANR academics directly in the coming month to inquire about their interest in being a mentor.
Students have an option of completing a fellowship during the summer (Summer 2018), an academic semester (Fall 2018 or Spring 2019), an academic year (Fall 2018–Spring 2019), or a calendar year (June 2018–June 2019). Mentorship teams are required to cover 25 percent of the costs for the fellow. More information about this pilot and requirements for students and mentors can be found at http://ucanr.edu/sites/GGCE/.
Academics who are interested in being a mentor, whether you have a project in mind or are open to working to develop a new project with a fellow, please contact Jennifer Caron-Sale in ANR's Program Planning and Evaluation Office at email@example.com or (510) 987-0214 to be connected with prospective applicants.