Posts Tagged: Jeff Dahlberg
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Dahlberg, also the director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) in Parlier, invoked his 35 years of sorghum expertise to increasing interest in growing the crop in California and to better understanding plants' ability to tolerate drought. Dahlberg retires Jan. 8.
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger in the early 1980s, Dahlberg was intrigued by sorghum, a staple food being cultivated by the country's vast population of subsistence farmers.
“I was impressed with the fact that sorghum was so drought tolerant,” Dahlberg said. “Nigerien farmers relied solely on rain for their sorghum and millet crops.”
Upon returning to the U.S., he earned a master's degree at the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M, where his research focused on sorghum. He worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Puerto Rico for 7 years and then spent the next 10 years as research director with the National Sorghum Producers in Lubbock, Texas.
When Dahlberg took the helm of the 330-acre UC agricultural research center in 2010, he and colleagues at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center and at UC Davis began conducting sorghum forage variety trials. Sorghum wasn't new to California. In the past, it had mainly been used for animal feed. But Dahlberg believed the crop's adaptability – excellent for forage, biofuels and gluten-free human food – offered the grain a rosy future in the Golden State.
"With our research, we have provided California farmers who are thinking about growing sorghum access to locally generated, research-based information to help them make the decision," Dahlberg said.
In 2015, Dahlberg and UC Berkeley specialist Peggy Lemaux launched a sweeping drought research project at KARE. The five-year study, funded with a $12.3 million grant from the Department of Energy, researched the genetics of drought tolerance in sorghum and how soil microbial communities interacted with sorghum roots to battle drought stress.
A journal article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018 presented the first detailed look at the role of drought in restructuring the root microbiome. The plant switches some genes on and some genes off when it detects water scarcity and access to water.
“That has implications for feeding the world, particularly considering the changing climate and weather patterns,” Dahlberg said.
In recent years, Dahlberg helped reestablish tea research at Kearney, initiated nearly 60 years ago in a study funded by Thomas J. Lipton, Inc. At the time, Lipton was seeking to grow tea for the instant tea market. When the Kearney tea research program was scrapped in 1981, a researcher had a handful of the best tea clones planted in the landscape around buildings at Kearney.
Those shrubs became the basis for a new tea research trial planted at Kearney in 2017 with UC Davis professor Jackie Gervay Hague to determine whether drought stress impacts the production of phenolics and tannins in the tea.
“We know we can grow good tea here and we can grow high tonnage,” Dahlberg said. “We want to determine if we can do that on a consistent basis and whether we can improve tea quality through irrigation management.”
In retirement, Dahlberg plans to relocate to Lake Ann, Mich., to be close to family. UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist Khaled Bali will serve as interim director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
People from across California and around the world got to taste new crops, see research demonstrations and learn about several UC ANR activities at the World Ag Expo Feb. 12-14. Despite the cold rainy weather, the world's largest agricultural exposition attracted 102,878 people representing 48 states, the District of Columbia and 65 countries to Tulare.
At an outdoor tent, Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, Greg Douhan, UCCE citrus advisor, and other researchers, handed visitors fresh Tango citrus grown at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center and told them about their citrus variety research.
Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UCCE small farms advisor, and Michael Yang, small farms and specialty crops agricultural assistant, encouraged visitors to taste moringa tea. Surendra Dara, UCCE entomology and biologicals advisor, described how Bagrada bugs and other pests under the microscopes can be controlled by microbes. Roger Baldwin, UCCE wildlife specialist, and Niamh Quinn, UCCE urban wildlife conflict advisor, took turns showing taxidermy vertebrate pests and describing their management research.
Jeff Mitchell, UCCE specialist, and Jeff Dahlberg, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center director, gave demonstrations to show the superior health of soils managed with conservation techniques.
Demonstrating the use of high-tech in agriculture, Sean Hogan, Informatics and Geographic Information System academic coordinator, Andy Lyons, IGIS program coordinator, and Jacob Flanagan, IGIS programmer, showed how they use drones and cameras in agricultural research.
Inside Pavilion A, Teresa Rios-Spicer, UCCE nutrition program manager, andYeseniaMedrano, UCCE community education specialist, both from Tulare County, challenged visitors to test their nutrition knowledge by playing Jeopardy! Visitors could spin the UC Master Gardeners prize wheel to answer gardening questions and win seeds. 4-H members invited youth to peer into virtual reality goggles to give them an idea about the fun activities that can be part of joining 4-H.
Frank Mitloehner, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, gave a seminar explaining confusion in the media about the amount of greenhouse gas livestock emit in California and globally. He reviewed the innovations in livestock production that are leading the way to a "greener future" for California and U.S. agriculture.
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension citrus entomology specialist, and Victoria Hornbaker of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, gave an update on regulatory protocols relating to Asian citrus psyllid and HLB quarantines and the proper transportation of bulk citrus to prevent the spread of the pest and disease.
The California and Dutch AgFoodTech innovation partners reunited in Tulare for a networking luncheon to share their action plan with invited guests and scope the projects.
UC ANR vice provost Mark Lagrimini visited the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, the Lindcove REC and the West Side REC in October as he continues to become familiarized with the diversity of resources in the Division.
After a morning meeting with Kearney director Jeff Dahlberg on Oct. 15, Lagrimini traveled 45 miles southeast to the Lindcove REC. At Lindcove, director Beth Grafton-Cardwell led Lagrimini on a tour of the facility's greenhouse, laboratories, office facilities, the screenhouse, conference facility and research packing line.
The next day, Lagrimini was 70 miles due west to visit the West Side REC, where director Bob Hutmacher showed him research projects at the center in pistachios, cotton and other row crops.
There are 19 wildfires threatening communities all over the state and causing concern for our friends and colleagues. We've been in touch with our colleagues in the fire zones and everyone is safe and, as far as we know, no ANR members have lost homes. Here's an update from the affected areas.
In Lake County, the UCCE office is closed and staff members have been evacuated from their homes since Saturday due to the Mendocino Complex fires.
Hopland REC was hit hard by the River Fire. The good news is the evacuation order was lifted Monday and all Hopland Research and Extension Center employees are safe and the headquarter buildings are undamaged. The guard dog that had gone missing has been found. The animals were moved on Friday and all livestock are safe and accounted for. Roughly 2500 acres of the upper pastures burned and the domestic water line from the spring is down. On Friday, Cal Fire set up Incident Command Post at Hopland REC with 6+ engines, three bulldozers and a water tanker. Kudos to John Bailey, superintendent and interim director, and staff for their efforts, which no doubt limited the damage.
UCCE Shasta office is open. Many staff members evacuated due to the massive Carr Fire. Last week, 4-H members helped relocate animals to safety. At least one 4-H family lost their home to the Carr Fire – and 4-H advisor Nate Caeton fears others he hasn't been able to contact in the West Side 4-H Club have lost homes – so the local UCCE staff is reaching out to see how they can help.
UCCE Mendocino office is open. All employees are safe and the office suffered no damage from the Ranch Fire.
UCCE Riverside office is open. A Master Gardener volunteer lost her home in Idyllwild to the Cranston Fire. UCCE Master Gardener coordinator Rosa Olaiz and the rest of the UCCE Riverside County staff are safe and are making plans to assist the volunteer.
UCCE San Bernardino office is open and all staff members are safe from the Cranston Fire.
As the fires are still active, we're continuing to monitor the situation and hope for the best.
Because emergencies can arise without warning, UC ANR Environmental Health and Safety has this Safety Note to help make plans http://safety.ucanr.edu/files/152253.pdf. You can also learn what to do before, during and after a fire at http://cesutter.ucanr.edu/LivingWithFire, a website by Kate Wilkin, UCCE forestry, fire and natural resources advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Butte and Nevada counties.
Thank you all for your hard work and dedication, especially those of you impacted by the fires.
Intermountain Research and Extension Center (IREC) celebrated the grand opening of a multipurpose conference and laboratory building on July 26. The facility will be available for use by private and public groups for business meetings, job fairs, trainings and conferences.
"The facility is the first in the Tulelake area to offer modern audio-visual infrastructure and high-speed internet connectivity capable of supporting remote presentations to stay in touch with groups from around the world," said Rob Wilson, IREC director. "We hope this facility will greatly increase the visibility and accessibility of local events and help draw more regional attention to the area."
The conference room was dedicated in honor of the late John Staunton, a local research collaborator with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources who passed away in 2015. Staunton Farms and the Staunton family donated $25,000 to support the building project and recognize the Tulelake farmer and his long-standing support of agriculture and research.
Winema Elevators/Western Milling, Sensient Natural Ingredients, Macy's Flying Service, and Basin Fertilizer also contributed support.
UC awarded approximately $2 million for this capital improvement project with funds from UC lease revenue bonds to pay for most of the building's design and construction costs, but additional support is needed to complete the project. Intermountain REC has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 to pay for tables, chairs, furnishing and lab equipment for the building.
A special UC fund has been created to collect tax-deductible contributions to be used solely for this building project. Donations over $50 will receive recognition in print and on the IREC website. Donations over $1,000 will receive recognition on the donor wall in the building entryway. Name plate recognition on the donor wall will be based on the gift amount: Gold ($2,500+), Silver ($1,750 to $2,499), and Bronze ($1,000 to $1,749). Donations can be made via check using the enclosed envelope or by credit card by visiting the IREC website at http://irec.ucanr.edu and clicking the “Make a gift” link.
The ribbon cutting followed the 2018 IREC field day, an annual event that showcases the research underway at the 140-acre facility. Charlie Pickett of USDA, UC Davis Plant Breeding Center director Charlie Brummer, UCCE farm advisors David Lile and Rachael Long and UCCE specialist Dan Putnam joined Wilson in giving research updates on the tour.
Research presentations included work on biological control of cereal leaf beetle, influence of fall harvest management of irrigated grass hays, onion white rot, managing alfalfa weevil and clover rootcucurlio, pulse crop options for theKlamath Basin, cover crops and amendments, cutting schedule effects on lowlignin alfalfa andgermplasm evaluation of alfalfa and tallfescue.
Siskiyou Daily News, noted the palpable absence of the late Steve Orloff, who was a UCCE farm advisor for Siskiyou County for 25 years. “Orloff's absence was noticeably felt throughout the day,” she wrote. “He passed away in October of 2017, and his influence in Siskiyou County's ag industry was very apparent, evidenced in part by the many mentions of his name and work throughout the day. IREC paid tribute to Orloff in the final page of its field day guide, which featured a full-page image of Orloff during a previous field day, with the words, ‘We miss you, Steve.'”
In the news article, Jester also wrote, “The information gleaned through research at the IREC can be invaluable to farmers and other researchers. Through its years of experimentation, the center has helped growers develop more effective practices in a wide range of areas, from determining the crops that will grow best in the local climate, to selecting the most economically viable crops for the region, to understanding the most effective ways to manage pests and disease.”