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Posts Tagged: Joji Muramoto

New California Organic Research Agenda available online

A new report examines current needs and challenges of organic farmers and ranchers across California. Joji Muramoto studies organic strawberries. Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta

Organic Farming Research Foundation has published the new California Organic Research Agenda (CORA), a comprehensive report that examines current needs and challenges of organic farmers and ranchers across California and provides policy and research recommendations to address producer-identified issues.

The CORA report is a companion to OFRF's 2022 National Organic Research Agenda. The national organic survey data boasts responses from over 1,100 producers and 16 listening sessions held across the U.S. Using the California subset of the national survey data, the CORA report highlights the top production and non-production challenges cited by California's organic farmers and ranchers.
“Organic farming has been historically under-invested in, in terms of research, education and extension,” says OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “Both the new California Organic Research Agenda and the 2022 National Organic Research Agenda present incredible feedback directly from organic farmers and provide a compelling roadmap for how to best support the growth of this important sector of agriculture.”
Report findings indicate that managing production costs is a substantial challenge for 71% of producers surveyed, and accessing labor proved to be the leading non-production challenge. An overwhelming number of state producers (76%) expressed substantial need for technical assistance with the organic management of weeds, pests, and disease. In addition to detailing farmer challenges on and off the field, OFRF's CORA report provides a comparison analysis of farmer responses based on commodity and farming experience. National and state comparisons are also included in the report.
Production of the CORA report was supported in part by the University of California Organic Agriculture Institute (UC OAI), a new statewide program within the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), as well as the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology.
“One of our primary activities is to generate new research and extension programs focused on organic agriculture,” says Houston Wilson, director of the UC OAI. “The CORA report provides an excellent roadmap to guide and prioritize our efforts, we're really excited to turn this information into action.” 
According to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, state farmers and ranchers were responsible for 40% of all organic agricultural product sales in the country. Data from a 2019 USDA organic survey concludes California has 965,257 acres in organic production, which is approximately 17.5% of all organic acreage in the country. OFRF's California Organic Research Agenda examines grower needs in the nation's top-producing state of organic agricultural commodities and specialty crops, paving the way for future research and investment.

"This report will benefit organic growers in California by playing a role as a critical reference to increase public support and develop research projects targeting specific needs that diverse organic growers in the state are facing," says Joji Muramoto, UC Cooperative Extension organic production specialist.
Each report is available online ( free of charge to farmers, policymakers, ag suppliers, seed companies, and the general public.

Posted on Monday, May 30, 2022 at 3:20 PM

Names in the News

Muramoto hired as first UCCE organic ag specialist

Joji Muramoto

Joji Muramoto joined ANR on May 29 as an assistant Cooperative Extension organic production specialist. The first UCCE specialist hired to focus on organic agriculture, Muramoto will coordinate a statewide program focused on fertility and pest management in organic production systems across the state.

He has a joint affiliation with UCCE and the Department of Environmental Studies and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UC Santa Cruz. Muramoto, who is fluent in Japanese, is also an affiliate professor in the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan.

Prior to joining ANR, Muramoto served in multiple capacities at UC Santa Cruz. Since 1996, he has conducted research and extension on fertility and soil-borne disease management in organic and conventional strawberry and vegetable production in coastal California. Over the course of his 32-year career as a soil scientist/agroecologist, Muramoto has secured and managed over $11 million of external grants as a principal investigator or co-PI, conducted numerous field-based research projects, published 39 peer-reviewed or invited papers or book chapters including several multidisciplinary papers, supervised more than 100 undergraduate student workers and interns, and given more than 90 extension presentations in California.

Muramoto earned a Ph.D. and an M.S. in agriculture chemistry (soil science), and a B.S. in agriculture chemistry from Tokyo University of Agriculture. 

Based at the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in Santa Cruz, Muramoto can be reached at (831) 459-2178 and

Amir Haghverdi
Haghverdi receives USDA New Investigator Award

Amir Haghverdi, assistant UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and water management specialist in the UC Riverside environmental sciences department, has been awarded a nearly $500,000 Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement New Investigator grant by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

NIFA Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement Grants are highly competitive funds awarded to researchers at the beginning their career, with less than five years postgraduate career-track experience.

Haghverdi's research focuses on developing and disseminating scientific knowledge, practical recommendations, and tools for sustainable urban and agricultural water resources management. His approaches include field research trials, laboratory analyses, and computer modeling, with a goal of identifying opportunities for synergy between research and extension activities. 

The award will support a project to enhance irrigation management in Southern California desert agriculture. – Holly Ober


Monica Cooper
Cooper receives Viticulture Extension Distinction Award

Monica Cooper, UCCE viticulture advisor for Napa County, received the 2019 American Society for Enology and Viticulture Extension Distinction Award on June 19 at the ASEV National Conference at the Napa Valley Marriot Hotel.

Cooper joined UC Cooperative Extension in Napa County in 2009 as a viticulture farm advisor. Her applied research and outreach programs provide data-driven information to the vineyard industry. She directs the Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group, a local forum for technical information and collaborative learning. Fluent in Spanish, she also offers education programming to farmworkers.

Cooper's early career was defined by programs addressing invasive pests such as vine mealybug and European grapevine moth. Her current research interests include disease epidemiology, pest management, rootstock evaluation, labor issues affecting farmworkers and improving extension delivery. 


ESA Pacific Branch honors Grafton-Cardwell, Dara, Williams

Beth Grafton-Cardwell

Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Surendra Dara and Neal Williams received awards from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America April 2 at PBESA's annual meeting in San Diego.

Grafton-Cardwell, director of the Lindcove Research and Extension Center, UCCE IPM specialist and research entomologist with the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, received the CW Woodworth Award, which recognizes an individual Pacific Branch ESA member for outstanding accomplishments in entomology over the past 10 years. Her research interests include all aspects of integrated pest management of citrus pests, including biocontrol, pheromone disruption, pesticide efficacy and selectivity, pesticide resistance management, pest monitoring and economic thresholds. With her collaborators, Grafton-Cardwell has authored over 60 journal articles and over 270 extension articles on these subjects. In the past decade, she has spent much of her time responding to invasive pests and disease, the most serious situation being Asian citrus psyllid, the vector of huanglongbing, a deadly bacterial citrus disease. Her extension program on this subject reaches the citrus industry, Master Gardeners, homeowners, regulatory agencies and the news media.

Surendra Dara
Dara, UC Cooperative Extension entomology and biologicals advisor, received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension, which recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to extension entomology. Dara, who serves San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, studies pest management with biostimulants, biopesticides and other biological materials. He has authored more than 340 scientific and extension publications that include 13 book chapters, three co-edited manuals, and several peer-reviewed trade journal, newsletter and eJournal articles. Dara has delivered presentations worldwide and has trained strawberry and vegetable growers in Bangladesh, Haiti, India, Kosovo, Moldova, Myanmar and Transnistria about crop production, pesticide safety and IPM.   

Neal Williams
Williams, a pollination ecologist and professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis, won the Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award. The annual award is given to an individual with outstanding accomplishments in the study of insect interrelationships with plants. His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of bees and other pollinator insects and their interactions with flowering plants. Williams was recently named a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

July 17-20, Williams will co-chair the Fourth International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy at UC Davis. The four-day conference, themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” will highlight recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and link to policy implications.

Jim Stapleton
Stapleton and biosolarization team win DPR award

Jim Stapleton, UC IPM plant pathologist based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, received a 2018 California Department of Pesticide Regulation Integrated Pest Management Achievement Award as co-PI of the Soil Fumigant Alternatives BioSolarization Team. The scientists research techniques that can be used in place of agricultural soil fumigants to reduce human health and environmental risks.

For the past 14 years, this team has generated and disseminated a large body of information on soil pest management practices. By improving the implementation and efficacy of biosolarization, the team is seeking to create an alternative to soil fumigants—a DPR priority issue. Solarization is a well-established pest management practice. Biosolarization, and its cousin anaerobic soil disinfestation, are newer and lend themselves to innovations in quality and implementation. The team's work on quantifying the factors that influence effectiveness has the potential for tailoring treatments to individual sites and reducing pesticide use throughout California. In addition to managing soil pests and pathogens, biosolarization practices promoted by the team aim to improve soil health and reduce landfill waste. Members of the team have been conducting outreach and collaborating with industry, academic/research groups, and public stakeholders for many years. More information is available at and

The award was presented Feb. 12 at Cal-EPA headquarters in Sacramento during a ceremony recorded at  

Kabashima honored for volunteer achievement 

Rick Otis, left, presents award to John Kabashima.
The Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition presented John Kabashima, UCCE environmental horticulture advisor emeritus, an award for outstanding volunteer achievement for his continued efforts to address shot hole borers across California and the West. He received the award June 11 at a Congressional reception and awards program in Washington DC with a crowd of over 100 Congressional and federal agency officials in attendance. The event was hosted by RRISC and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as co-chairs of the Congressional Invasive Species Caucus. 

The polyphagous shot hole borer, an invasive wood-boring beetle, attacks dozens of tree species in Southern California, including commercial avocado groves, common landscape trees and native species in urban and wildland environments. The beetle spreads a disease called fusarium dieback, which can kill trees.

“Noticing insufficient support from the California state legislature, John spearheaded an Invasive Species Summit in January 2018 to develop consensus recommendations that conservation organizations would use to lobby state legislatures,” said the RRISC. “This effort, in consultation with John, developed two bills based on the Summit's recommendations, and retained $5 million to address invasive shot hole borers. While the efforts to maintain funding and awareness continue, John's excellent, actionable leadership has helped produce important awareness for a pressing invasive species issue.”

Sourbeer and Zacarias receive EFNEP awards 

From left, Sonia Rodriguez, who nominated Johana Zacarias, Katie Panarella, director of Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Leah Sourbeer.

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture presented awards to two California women for their role in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). EFNEP participant Johana Zacarias of Yolo County and Leah Sourbeer, UCCE EFNEP supervisor, were honored at the 50th Anniversary celebration at the National EFNEP Coordinators Conference in Virginia, March 11-14.

Zacarias, a young mother of four children, participated in EFNEP at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Olivehurst, Calif. EFNEP educator Sonia Rodriguez suggested participants check with their doctors before changing their exercise and dietary habits. Zacarias visited her doctor and discovered she had early stage fatty liver disease.

 “I was 220 pounds, never exercised, nor controlled my diet,” Zacarias told an EFNEP educator. “Because of the changes I made coming to EFNEP, using the Walk Indoors CD, I now weigh 166 pounds, and my liver is normal.”

Sourbeer, who supervises seven EFNEP educators in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, developed online systems to enable educators to capture outcome data and success stories. She seeks out professional development opportunities for herself and staff to enhance evidence-based nutrition knowledge, teaching methodologies, and social determinants of health.

“Leah demonstrates exceptional programmatic skills,” her nominators wrote. “She often mentors other EFNEP supervisors and represents EFNEP staff on two university-wide committees.”


Long honored with Bradford Rominger Ag Sustainability Leader Award

From left, VP Glenda Humiston, Rachael Long and Tom Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, which hosted the award event.

Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor covering integrated pest management for field crops in Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties, is the recipient of the 2019 Bradford Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award.

During her career with UCCE, Long has been a pioneer in developing practices to protect water quality from agricultural crop production, helping farmers meet state mandates for clean surface water. She worked on hedgerows, documenting that field edge plantings of native California plants attract beneficial insects, including bees and natural enemies, for better pest control and pollination in adjacent crops. She documented that birds and bats are farmer allies; they help control codling moths in walnut orchards. She promotes hawks and barn owls for control of rodent pests. She has also written numerous publications focusing on agronomic practices for managing pest, weeds, and diseases in field crop production.

At the time she started her research projects over 25 years ago, her ideas were way outside the box and on the fringe. Now her work is mainstream with the UC IPM guidelines incorporating the value of habitat planting for enhancing natural enemies and pollinators on farms for better pollination and biocontrol of crop pests. The California Healthy Soils Initiative and Natural Resource Conservation Service have cost-share funding for hedgerow establishment on farms for pest management and carbon sequestration.

Long continues to do research on hedgerows, but more importantly, she strives to be a leader by teaching others about agriculture and the need to have co-existence between farming, food production, and wildlife conservation for a better world for all.

Long received the award at a presentation May 28 in the UC Davis Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center. Read more at

UC communicators win 10 ACE awards

Niamh Quinn shows that a coyote ate a rabbit. Steve Elliott won a gold award for writing within a specialized publication for “Learning to Manage – and Live with – Coyotes in Southern California.”
Three UC communicators were honored for their work by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE).

Steve Elliott, communication coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center won four ACE awards:

  • A silver award for the Western IPM Center's monthly electronic newsletter, highlighting integrated pest management research, issues, funding opportunities, jobs and meetings.
  • A bronze award, with UC ANR designer Will Suckow, for the Western IPM Center website

Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won five awards:

  • Kathy Keatley Garvey won a silver ACE award for a feature photo of a honey bee covered with mustard pollen.
    A gold award for her news story, "To Boldly Go, and the Chancellor Did: To an Insect Museum," chronicling UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, who is a Star Trek enthusiast, and Dean Helene Dillard's tour of the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
  • A silver award for a feature photo of a honey bee covered with mustard pollen.
  • A bronze award (third place) for "The Bee Man" newspaper story on Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology, book author, and retired bee wrangler
  • A bronze award for writing within a specialized publication. This was a feature on "Bugs and Beats," published in Entomology Today, a publication of the Entomological Society of America, and featuring the Entomology Band of UC Davis graduate students
  • A bronze award for her Bug Squad blog, "When Queen Bees Get Permanents," showcasing the art of Karissa Merritt, UC Davis entomology student, in a Bohart Museum calendar

Science writer Gregory Watry of the College of Biological Sciences won a silver award in the promotional writing category for his story, “Feeding the Future: Growing Stronger Crops.”

The awards were presented at the annual ACE conference June 26 in San Antonio, Texas. UC's recipients did not attend the event, which was held in a state that is subject to California's ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel.



Posted on Monday, July 1, 2019 at 2:10 PM

Thank you, and looking ahead for a great 2017!

Dear Colleagues,

As we wrap up 2016, I want to take a moment to thank you for everything you've done on behalf of UC ANR this year. Whether you are conducting research, organizing extension programs, teaching nutrition, leading volunteers or quietly working behind the scenes to support our various activities, your work makes a huge difference in the lives of all Californians.

In addition to those activities, many of you also took the time to give feedback to the recent strategic planning exercise, gathered to exchange ideas at the Research to Policy conference, or contributed to enhancing the UC ANR mission in many other ways.  A special thanks to the folks who chaired a committee, led a program team or served as county director – having strong, passionate leaders at every level of this organization is what makes us effective.

We are continuing to grow in numbers as hiring outpaces retirements. In 2016, 29 academics joined UC ANR and three more are poised to start in 2017. We also established four new endowed chairs with matching funds from UC President Janet Napolitano, the California Rice Research Board, the California Pistachio Research Board and, recently, the Orange County Farm Bureau. Thanks to the hard work of many stakeholders – both internal and external – we identified 26 academic positions ( for a new round of hiring priorities over the next two years. 

At the request of President Napolitano, we've submitted a five-year plan for UC ANR that will help us operationalize the Strategic Vision 2025 in a very thoughtful and timely manner. The next step is to further develop specific action plans for implementation and ensure the financial stability to support our vision. After the winter break, we will share the plan with the UC ANR community, as well as external stakeholders, and invite additional input as we move forward.

I'm very excited about 2017!  Some great groundwork has been laid this past year to further enhance our ability to deliver the UC ANR mission and enjoy new partnerships. I hope you will have a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays with friends and family and return refreshed to tackle the challenges that await us in the new year.

Happy Holidays!


Glenda Humiston
Vice President


Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 2:16 PM

DANRIS-X launches into Project Board with webinar trainings

DANRIS-X has been updated and Project Board will open for 2018 reporting.

DANRIS-X has been updated and will eventually be replaced with the newly created Project Board for UCCE specialists and advisors. When DANRIS-X opens for reporting, users will see a reduced number of data fields and an aesthetic refresh.

Project Board will open for 2018 reporting and will have an improved user experience and simplified data entry. Special thanks to the Project Board Academic Advisory Committee and Project Team for their continued involvement. More information can be found at

Upcoming dates and action items:

CE Specialists

  • DANRIS-X opens Jan. 9
  • All CE specialists are invited to the Zoom webinar trainings offered on Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., or Jan. 24, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Topics include an overview of the reporting system, what and why we report, etc.
  • Actions: Complete Annual Report for FY 2016 and Annual Plan for FY 2017 by March 6, 2017, at midnight.

CE Advisors

  • DANRIS-X opens on Feb. 2
  • All CE advisors are invited to the Zoom webinar trainings offered on Feb. 6, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., or Feb. 7, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Topics include an overview of the reporting system, what and why we report, etc.
  • Actions: Complete Annual Report & CASA for FY 2017 and Annual Plan for FY 2018 by Oct. 30, 2017, at midnight.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Kit Alviz, Program Planning and Evaluation, at or (510) 987-0027.



Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 2:14 PM

Names in the News

Mary Maffly Ciricillo
Ciricillo named director of Annual Giving

Mary Maffly Ciricillo brings more than 20 years of professional experience to her new role as the director of Annual Giving for UC ANR. She comes to ANR from the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, where she was director of Development & Alumni Relations, steward of the Business Partnership Program and point person on building connections, community and involvement of the school's alumni.

Ciricillo has spent the last 10 years in diverse roles at UC Davis, creating and growing programs that help further university goals. She launched UC Davis goClub, the campus alternative and sustainable transportation program. To get goClub rolling, Ciricillo signed on sponsors, built new relationships across campus and the business community, and revved up the marketing plan to encourage campus commuting options, such as carpool, vanpool, bike, walk, bus and train.

Before joining UC Davis, Ciricillo was an account executive in the communications industry, developing branding and marketing solutions. Her clients included The Gap, Oracle, Knight Ridder Newspapers, the San Francisco Ballet and the Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley.

She earned a B.A. in history with a minor in business from San Francisco State University.

Based in Davis, Ciricillo can be reached at (530) 750-1302, cell (530) 219-1085 and

Glenn County Soil Partnership from left, Dani Lightle, Betsy Karle, Kandi Manhart, RCD executive officer, and Rob Vlach NRCS district conservationist.

Karle and Lightle on team honored for conservation innovation

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and California Association of Resource Conservation Districts presented its prestigious Excellence in Innovation award to the Glenn County Soil Partnership, which includes the Glenn County Resource Conservation District, UC Cooperative Extension in Glenn County and the NRCS field office in Willows.

Betsy Karle, UCCE county director and dairy advisor, and Dani Lightle, UCCE orchard systems advisor, both based in Glenn County, are among the partners working together to promote and encourage healthy soils and greatly increased local interest among farmers. Their goal is to increase awareness of the importance of soil health and to create a forum for farmers to share information and learn from each other. To ensure a locally led process, the partners created a farmer-led Steering and Technical Advisory Committee made up of farmers and local experts.

“Dani Lightle was a key player in the process and she has taken the opportunity to tackle some very interesting questions about cover cropping in orchards,” said Karle. “UCCE specialist Jeff Mitchell has also been a key motivator and has logged hundreds of miles and countless hours to support the effort.”

“Your partnership is bringing back a focus on conservation planning, technical assistance and management change motivated by the desire to enhance the health of the soil resource,” said NRCS state conservationist Carlos Suarez, who presented the award.

“You wisely chose to root your leadership in local farmers and agencies, combining agency and university technical knowledge with private business skills and real world know-how. This makes your partnership credible and inspiring to local farmers who are open to improving the health of their soil.”

“This is the best way to engage our customers in conservation planning that results in regenerative agriculture and ecological benefits,” Suarez said.

The Soil Partnership received the award on Nov. 17 during the 71st annual California Association of Resource Conservation Districts' conference in Ontario.

Sabrina Drill
UC CalNat associate director named to national organization board

UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor Sabrina Drill has been elected to the board of the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach Service Programs (ANROSP). Drill is associate director of the UC California Naturalist Program.

ANROSP is the national organization in which master naturalist programs from around the country share methods and information to train naturalists, build local and statewide communities, and support their efforts to protect, enhance, understand, and teach the public about each state's unique natural history.

“As a board member, the things I am most keen to work on are strengthening efforts to professionalize participatory citizen science, and build bonds with groups like the new Citizen Science Association and communities of practice like SciStarter,” Drill said. “In addition, I want to build on our individual efforts to increase the demographic diversity of naturalists.”

Drill's role in the national organization will support the continued growth and development of the California Naturalist program, which was established in 2012.

“Working across states, I think we'd like to again see how we might garner national support to grow our programs, and see where we can use nationally developed educational and evaluation tools,” Drill said. “For example, we recently published a paper in Conservation Biology with Virginia Master Naturalist looking at how our training programs enhanced individuals' experiences as citizen scientists, and the opportunity to compare programs was very enlightening. Being an active part of ANROSP leadership can enhance these efforts.”

ANROSP holds a national conference each year in September, where it presents awards in five categories: program of the year, outstanding educational materials, outstanding team, outstanding volunteer project and outstanding program evaluation. In 2015, the UC ANR California Naturalist program was named the “program of the year” by ANROSP

Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at 1:53 PM

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